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Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Giri Sapto Artist and Culturalist Cemetery

Publish 19-02-2010 11:28:14 by Admin
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A. Overview

Nobody had ever thought that Gajah hill, one of the hills in Wukirsari, Imogiri, Bantul, would be a graveyard complex for artists except Dr. (HC) RM. Sapti Hoedojo FRSA (FellowRoyal School of Art). The Solo born artist on February 6, 1925 had dreamed about building an artist cemetery complex since 1980s, twenty years before his death.

Aside from being famous as an all-round artist (competent in painting, batik, handicraft, to ceramic art), Sapto was also known for his controversial ideas. Before coming out with the cemetery idea, Sapto encouraged artists to found a cooperative. Through the artist’s cooperative, he hoped that artists’ lives could be better off. However, after established in 1985, the cooperative was bankrupt because there were more lenders than depositors.

The idea about artist cemetery was not free from criticisms. Some of his fellow artists even thought that it was a crazy idea because for them, the most important thing was how to sell their works. Graveyard was the last thing to consider. Sapto was adamant though. Piek, as he was usually called, had a simple argument. If heroes deserve commemoration for their services, artists also deserve remembrance for their works.

Despite of the critics, there were also some artists supporting the idea. Affandi, a well-known painter that was also Piek’s ex-father in law, even enlisted himself as a future dweller of the cemetery. Unfortunately, when the Indonesian maestro died, he was not rested in the artist cemetery. Affandi, at his wife’s request, Maryati (RIP), was buried in Affandi Museum, Laksda Adisutjipto Street 167, Sleman, Yogyakarta.

The idea finally became a reality after KRT Suryaparno Hadiningrat, the then head of Bantul regency, bestowed a space of land in Wukirsari Hills for the cemetery construction. The area, that is situated next to the Imogiri Royal Graveyard Complex, was then officially open with the name “Makam Seniman Pengharum Bangsa (The Cemetery of National Pride Artists)” by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX. However, not long after that Sapto Hoedojo changed the name to “Makam Seniman dan Budayawan Giri Sapto (Giri Sapto Artist and Culturalist Cemetery)”, and became usually called as Giri Sapto.

B. Features

Making a pilgrim to Giri Sapto is one of the ways to commemorate the late artists. In the sire, visitors can sense a nostalgia, like the people who missed Shakespeare’s figure visiting his grave in England. Visitors in this cemetery can see the resting place of various Indonesian artists, particularly those who lived in Yogyakarta and surrounding areas. Among those who were buried in there are painting, dance, and music artists.

As a work of art itself, the cemetery complex is quite unique. The design of the complex follows the contour of the hill, is divided into some stages, and has concrete stairs structure. Entering the cemetery yard, visitors will see stairs with a half-circle gate. The gate looks monumental due to its quite big size, diametrically spans to more than 10 meters. On the right corner of the gate, there is a big pot (for flowers) to ornament the gate. At the north of the cemetery, there is a gravestone of Sapto Hoedojo, founder and initiator of the site, who died on September 3, 2003.


Giri Sapto Gate (left) and the grave of Sapto Hoedojo (right).

After walking up scores of steps, pilgrims will find the rows of artists’ graves. There is the grave of another Indonesian painting maestro, H. Widayat. The artist who found the H Widayat Museum in Mungkid, Magelang died on June 22, 2002. There is also the grave of a prominent dance artist from Yogyakarta, KRT Sasmintadipura, who died on February 26, 1996. Romo Sas, or Father Sas as he was usually called, was known as the empu (creator) of Yogyakartan dance. Aside from dancing and choreographing, he also set up the Pamulangan Beksa Sasminta Mardawa Yogyakarta Institute that is active in the field of art, particularly Yogyakartan dance.


The cemetery of painter H. Widayat (left) and dancer KRT Sasmintadipura (right).

Not only painting and dance artists, in Giri Sapto graveyard there were rested two prominent Indonesian composers, Kusbini and Liberty Manik. Kusbini was the composer of Bagimu Negeri, a patriotic song that is usually sung by people in August (Indonesian Independence Day is August 17) as well as in every competition in which Indonesia put its representatives. Dr. Liberty Manik was the writer of Satu Nusa Satu Bangsa. Kusbini died on March 30, 1991 while Liberty Manik passed away two years later, that was on September 16, 1993. Their works gave the composers the title of National Hero.


The graves of Kusbini (left) and Liberty Manik (right)

As well as making pilgrimage and remembering the names of a number of artists, we can also enjoy the scenery of Imogiri area from height there. The design of the complex that resembles a garden lets the pilgrims stay for relaxation. Up in the upper end of the stairs, precisely on the top of the hill, visitors could sit around for a rest while enjoying the natural panoramic view. Not far from the graveyard complex, about 250 meters to the east, is the Imogiri Mataram Kings Graveyard, where people could also visit after.

C. Location

Giri Sapro Artist and Culturalist Cemetery is located in Gajah Hill, Girirejo Village, Imogiri Subdistrict, Bantul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

D. Access

The complex of cemetery is situated about 20 km to the south of Yogyakarta City. The location is next to Girirejo Hill, where the Imogiri Mataram Kings Graveyard Complex is sited. You could reach the site by taxi or public transportation (bus) of Yogyakarta-Panggang route or Yogyakarta-Petoyan route from Giwangan Bus Station, Yogyakarta at a fare of about Rp. 5000,-. After a 30 minute trip, you will arrive at the Imogiri Bus Station, Bantul. From the terminal, you can walk 250 meters to the site. However if you want to go there by ojek (motorcycle taxi), you will have to pay about Rp. 3000 – Rp. 5000 (by November 2008).

E. Ticket Rate

Pilgrims can visit and enter the site for free.

F. Accommodation and Other Facilities

Unlike the Imogiri royal graveyard, the artist cemetery does not have any custodian or guide to give detailed information about the construction of the site as well as the life of the artists rested there. Visitors can only read brief information about who was rested in a grave on each stone. Each gravestone reads personal information such as name, date of birth and death, works, and the artist’s profession (painter, composer, and so on).

The cemetery complex is also equipped with a mosque. However in dry season, water in the mosque’s well decreases or even dries off. To find water for wudu (Islamic washing before prayer) or toilet, Pilgrims must go 250 meters away to the Imogiri Bus Station. In the bus station, there are also taverns providing foods and Imogiri local beverage, wedang uwoh. Wedang uwoh is known to have power to restore stamina, warm the body, and prevent the body from cold—good to drink after the exhausting walks up and down the steps. For each package, wedang uwoh is offered at Rp. 1000 (by November 2008).

(Lukman Solihin/wm/33/11-08)

Translation by Reza Daffi (terj/12/02-10)



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