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Jakarta Post

Upholding tradition as remembrance of battle

Mon, September 16, 2019   /   03:21 pm
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    Residents walk around the museum on its inauguration day on Aug. 16. The museum is the first building of a terracotta-based development project in Majalengka, one of the 10 creative towns planned by the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf). JP/Arya Dipa.

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    The Architecture Department of Pelita Harapan University, Jatiwangi Art Factory, the Land Agency and residents work hand in hand to build the wall of Wakare Museum using rammed earth materials. JP/Arya Dipa.

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    Wakare Museum explores the history of Wates village in Majalengka. The town aims to develop the performing arts and its identity as a terracotta city. JP/Arya Dipa.

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    A museum is built as a form of advocacy for residents looking to acquire their land certificates. The Office of the President is committed to resolving land conflicts between the village’s residents and the Indonesian Air Force. JP/Arya Dipa.

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    A mosaic made of clay shows how the Japanese army came to the village in 1943. The museum holds four other mosaics, depicting the Day of Carrying Houses and the residents’ genealogy. JP/Arya Dipa.

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    Hundreds of village residents take part in the Wakare festivity. The event has been held annually ever since the Japanese occupation, which left residents without their land certificates until present time. JP/Arya Dipa.

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    Residents hold a collective prayer after the inauguration of Wakare Museum on Aug. 16. They wish for the country’s acknowledgment of their land, which was owned and lived on by their ancestors before the occupation. JP/Arya Dipa.

Arya Dipa

Residents of Wates village in Majalengka, West Java, performed their annual tradition of carrying stilt houses on Aug. 16.

In 1942, Japan occupied Majalengka and demolished nine villages in order to build an airplane runway. The people of Wates then decided to move. Along with all of the residents, at least 20 stilt houses were carried to Reusing village, 3 kilometers to the south.

Zaenal Abidin, now 82 years old, is the only living witness of the time. He told The Jakarta Post that the move was voluntary. He also said that the runway was built by romusha (forced labor) from Majalengka, Cirebon, Kuningan and Indramayu.

After Japan surrendered, residents of Wates returned to their land along with the stilt houses. But not long after they arrived, the Indonesian Army came and put pegs in their village, claiming over half of the 10.5-hectare plot of land.

Land conflict continues to this day. Residents of Wates are without land certificates and are still fighting for their rights.

dome placed in the center of the museum covers a certificate. The certificate was issued by the Land Research Agency as a form of cultural ownership as residents have yet to acquire certificates from the state.

The Creative Economy Agency [Bekraf] picked Majalengka as one of the creative towns in Indonesia within the performing arts subsector. The Majalengka administration responded by declaring Jatiwangi a terracotta city, with Wakare Museum as the first building and cultural symbol.

In early February, the Architecture Department of Pelita Harapan University held an excursion to nonprofit organization Jatiwangi Art Factory, located beside the village. Along with the residents, they agreed to build the Wakare Museum to honor the village’s history.

Wakare means farewell in Japanese.

Made from terracotta, the museum is shaped like two rings united, as a symbol of the people’s mutual efforts. The tradition of carrying homes is told through a mosaic, while the residents’ genealogy is on another.

“This is our statement as residents who are yet to enjoy freedom in this country,” said Zaenal. (wng)