Oh death please consider my age
Please don't take me at this stage
My wealth is all at your command
If you will move your icy hand
Oh the young, the rich or poor
Hunger like me you know
No wealth, no ruin, no silver no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul
>O Death by Ralph Stanley from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
We’ve all gotta go sometime and most of us will probably end up in a graveyard or in an urn on Aunt Molly’s mantelpiece.
In Bali they end up in the sea.
Sure some fabulously rich people have had their corpses “cryonically preserved”, but they have as much chance of being brought back to life as the dinosaurs I reckon.
At the other extreme, Diogenes took the view that there was no philosophical reason whatsoever to respect dead bodies and he was insistent that his dead body be chucked out to the dogs.
Everyone has a different opinion it seems.
Even when they’re dead.
In Jakarta, hidden away in a quiet corner of this frantic and chaotic city - and almost completely forgotten about - is an old Dutch cemetery called Taman Prasasti.
It first started to be used in 1795 and is uncannily calm, mysteriously spooky and – as I was surprised to find out – home to a remarkable collection of slowly crumbling artwork.
Jakarta’s weeping angels!
There are some fascinating graves here and although some of the older tombstones are unreadable many of them are in surprisingly good condition.
One that piqued my interest was of a Liverpudlian lass named Mary Anne Mackenzie who died at sea in 1873 (not because of the Krakatoa eruption, if you were wondering; that happened 10 years later in 1883).
She was aged just 21.
And this was her fine epithet:
Farewell dear friends, my life is past
My love to you so long did last
And now for me no sorrow take
But love each other for my sake
In fact, back then most of the people died pretty young – 40 years seemed to be a good innings.
Looking around and there are other interesting things to see. And no graveyard would be complete without the macabre of course, and there - up on that tomb – what the hell is that?
Yep, it’s an old skull impaled on a spear. Nice I don’t think!
Some of the people buried at the Taman Prasasti cemetery are:
• Adami Caroli Claessens, Catholic priest.
• Adriaan Osstwalt (1674-December 30, 1734), director general of the Dutch East Indies.
• F.H. Roll (founder of STOVIA medical school, now University of Indonesia)
• Johan Harmen Rudolf Köhler
• Jan Laurens Andries Brandes (1857–June 26, 1905), a Dutch author, historian, and archeologist who collected Hindu statues now in possession of the National Museum of Indonesia.
• Miss Riboet, a 1930s artist.
• Olivie Mariamne Raffles (died November 23, 1814), the first wife of British governor general Thomas Stamford Raffles).
• Pieter Eberveld
• Soe Hok Gie, an Indonesian activist.
I couldn’t find them all. Maybe you’d have better luck than me!
My full set of pics are here on Flickr.
Taman Prasasti Museum
Jalan Tanah Abang I Jakarta, 10160
Tel: +61 21 315 4094