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Images: Rembang preserving shipbuilding craftsmanship

Suherdjoko

The Jakarta Post

Rembang  /  Wed, July 19, 2017  /  01:11 pm
  • Business as usual: Wooden vessels anchor in the waters off Juwana in Pati, Central Java.

    Business as usual: Wooden vessels anchor in the waters off Juwana in Pati, Central Java. OF JP/Suherdjoko

    Business as usual: Wooden vessels anchor in the waters off Juwana in Pati, Central Java.

  • Waterproof: Workers seal the ships planking.

    Waterproof: Workers seal the ships planking. OF JP/Suherdjoko

    Waterproof: Workers seal the ships planking.

  • Inside job: The shipbuilders work in precision to ensure the smooth placement of the heavy timbers.

    Inside job: The shipbuilders work in precision to ensure the smooth placement of the heavy timbers. OF JP/Suherdjoko

    Inside job: The shipbuilders work in precision to ensure the smooth placement of the heavy timbers.

  • Long project: It requires four to six months to finish a ship of around 20 meters in length and 10 meters in width.

    Long project: It requires four to six months to finish a ship of around 20 meters in length and 10 meters in width. OF JP/Suherdjoko

    Long project: It requires four to six months to finish a ship of around 20 meters in length and 10 meters in width.

  • Ancient: The Yogyakarta Archaeological Team examine an old vessel that is estimated to date back to the 7th century.

    Ancient: The Yogyakarta Archaeological Team examine an old vessel that is estimated to date back to the 7th century. OF JP/Suherdjoko

    Ancient: The Yogyakarta Archaeological Team examine an old vessel that is estimated to date back to the 7th century.

  • Ready to go: A shipyard in seen on the northern coast of Java. Once the ship is completed, it can be directly dragged into the sea.

    Ready to go: A shipyard in seen on the northern coast of Java. Once the ship is completed, it can be directly dragged into the sea. OF JP/Suherdjoko

    Ready to go: A shipyard in seen on the northern coast of Java. Once the ship is completed, it can be directly dragged into the sea.

  • Teamwork: Between five and seven skilled carpenters fit the planks manually.

    Teamwork: Between five and seven skilled carpenters fit the planks manually. OF JP/Suherdjoko

    Teamwork: Between five and seven skilled carpenters fit the planks manually.

OF

The coastal people of Rembang, Central Java, are known for their long history of shipbuilding expertise. The recent discovery of a vessel in the village of Punjulharjo in Rembang district, estimated to date back to the 7th century, serves as archeological evidence.

The old kingdoms with strong naval forces in Java always had flourishing shipbuilding ports in the northern coastal areas, from the Singasari period to the Majapahit Empire, the Demak Sultanate and to the rule of Islamic Mataram.

During the Dutch colonial era, shipyards supported the movement of cargo as well as Dutch troops in their control of Indonesia. Back then, many wooden freighters and warships with cannon were produced in Rembang.

Later, during the Japanese occupation, the Japanese troops forced Rembang shipyards to build hundreds of wooden vessels with diesel engines. Some 44,000 workers toiled away to meet the orders.

The Rembang shipyards have moved from Lasem to Sarang in the same regency. Today, hundreds of shipbuilders continue to produce wooden ships, each costing up to Rp 2 billion (US$150,257), depending on the size. With fishing equipment, the price can reach Rp 5 billion.

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