National Geographic : 1955 Sep
drum made of a tree trunk; and its pools. I lost count, but I am reasonably sure that the Minangkabaus have more swimming pools per capita than even the Californians; the route down to Padang is lined on both sides with rectangular concrete tanks used impartially for breeding fish and for bathing. Cradle of Javanese Culture The first visitor to the Surakarta and Djok jakarta region of Java that we know much about was a chap called Pithecanthropus, a rather simple-minded prehistoric cousin of ours related to the Neanderthal family on one side and some apes on the other. He left a few bones, discovered by a Dutch scientist in 1891-92, but no journal, diary, or other ob servations. I have been to this area more recently and can at least relate how it struck me. It would be too much to say that it hasn't changed since Pithecanthropus checked in, some 500,000 years ago; but certainly it possesses, more than any other section of Indonesia I saw, an air of serene antiquity. Here are the gray monuments of an ages-old civilization: the Buddhist temples of Boro budur and Mendut, the magnificent Hindu shrines of Prambanan (page 353). Here, too, as Indonesians rarely tire of pointing out to foreigners, is the cradle of Javanese culture -the center of the shadow-puppet plays, the wayang dances (page 352), the gong, drum, and flute music of the gamelan. Ironically, Djokjakarta, a city of some 295,000 people, is known today as much for its modern, democratic sultan as for its archaic glories. Hamangku Buwono IX, a vigorous man in his early 40's, is still guarded by men with wooden spears and approached by his courtiers almost on their elbows. He keeps some 300 dancers and female relatives in quarters to which he alone has access, and has his tea and cigarettes brought to him under a vast yellow umbrella. Yet this same man defied the Japanese occupation forces, worked for Indonesian in dependence, sends his children to public school, drives his own car (with a perfectly ordinary license number), changes his own tires, and spends a great share of his time on measures for economic reconstruction.