The Jakarta Post
The Patung Dirgantara ' better known as the Pancoran Monument after its location in South Jakarta ' has been getting a much-needed makeover during the last month.
According to the Jakarta Tourism and Culture Office, the statue, built near the Wisma Aldiron Dirgantara building, formerly Air Force headquarters, has not been thoroughly cleaned since its inauguration in 1966.
The statue was initiated by Sukarno before his ouster, as part of the then-president's vision to build a national identity for Indonesia through monuments.
Edhi Sunarso was the sculptor and used 11 tons of bronze to craft the monument, which stands 11 meters high, with supporting pillars as tall as 27 meters.
Sukarno was reputedly ready to sell his own car to fund building of the statue, which continues to greet commuters trapped in traffic on the flyover that runs beneath it.
The Patung Dirgantara ' the word 'dirgantara' relates to the skies or space ' was devised to symbolize courage, gallantry and dedication in aviation.
'An extract of lime juice is used to clean the statue of oxidation and salts resulting from pollution by vehicle emissions and rain water,' conservation supervisor Andia Sumarmo said. 'This traditional method needs 25 to 30 kilograms of lime,' he added.
According to Andia, lime juice contains an acid that can remove stains without damaging the structure.
The extract is also meant to minimize the use of chemicals, which are only applied in small amounts to limited parts of the statue.
The Technical Management Unit of the Tourism Office's Conservation Center has also used the same method to clean the city's other monuments, including the iconic Selamat Datang (Welcome) Monument at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle; the Pemuda Membangun (Youth) Monument, better known as the Pizza-Delivery Man, at the Senayan traffic circle in South Jakarta; and three monuments in Central Jakarta: the Patung Tani (Farmer's Monument) in Cikini; the Pembebasan Irian Jaya (Irian Liberation) Monument at Banteng Square and the Arjuna Wiwaha Statue, featuring the hero riding a chariot pulled by horses, near the National Monument.
'The conservation activity has been professionally conducted. We were observing this statue for several months before diagnosing its condition. The result was that Dirgantara was in a very poor state,' Andia said.
The Technical Management Unit has recruited experienced youths for the project, all certified by Garuda Nusantara Foundation as conservation workers for tall buildings.
The first phase was the cleaning with lime juice. The workers ascended a perilously looking ladder that curved around the statue's base to reach its head and arms.
Work was especially perilous on the right arm of the statue, which lay over the overpass below. The men labored throughout the night, so that water used to rinse the statue would not cause too many disruptions as it fell onto the traffic passing below.
When work on the restoration is complete later this week, the Jakarta government plans to bathe the monument in spotlights to show off its restored beauty.
' Images by JP/P.J. Leo