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Kota Gede the centre of Yogya’s silver industry

Kota Gede the centre of Yogya’s silver industry
Kota Gede the centre of Yogya’s silver industry

Kota Gede was the original site where Panembahan Senopati, founder of the new Mataram kingdom established his palace in 1575. The new Mataram kingdom claims direct descent from the ancient Mataram rulers who built the mighty Borobudur and Prambanan temples. In the year 1680 Kota Gede was ransacked by troops from Madura, and the palace of Mataram shifted east, first to Kartasura, then to its present location on the banks of the Solo river,at Surakarta (Solo).

Today, Kota Gede is a suburb of the city of Yogyakarta. The town is a maze of narrow streets, lined with tiny, traditional silversmith shops and mosaic-tiled houses, once the homes of the aristocracy and royal merchants. Kota Gede is a great place to come and take a slow wander round. For those who like to shop, come here and browse (or maybe buy) some handcrafted silver. Take in the surrounds of the quaint buildings that years ago, were the homes of wealthy Arab and Dutch merchants. Find out whether you can visit one of these houses and be transported back in time.

This precinct is now most famous as the centre of Yogya’s silver industry. There are a number of workshops where visitors can stop by and watch silversmiths at work and see the remarkable way they can transform a piece of silver into a beautiful work of art.

Kota Gede The best are made of sterling silver

Silver of Kota Gede
Silver of Kota Gede

Yogya silver distinguishes itself by its embossment and contrasting black on white silver. The best are made of sterling silver. Kota Gede produces beautiful silver tea sets, bracelets and necklaces and fine filigree brooches.

The Royal Cemetery of Kota Gede, is a site of ancient grandeur and reflects the cultural heritage of this region. Javanese dress is required to enter the cemetery and can be hired at the registration post. As there are Mataram kings buried here this is a holy site and pilgrims from all over Java still come here to pay their respects, burn incense and ask for blessings.

Culture of Kotagede

Kotagede is well known for its silver crafts. It is also known for other Javanese crafts and arts (gold, silver, copper, leather, etc.) and local food (kipo, legomoro, etc.)

Performing arts include karawitan (local gamelan music groups), syalawatan (Islamic music group), mocopat (Javanese poetry reading), kroncong, tingklung wayang puppet, and offering ceremonies on special days (caos) and leading an ascetic religious life (tirakatan).

Kotagede  Silver crafts

Kotagede Silver Craft
Kotagede Silver Craft

Kotagede silversmiths grew since the establishment of Kotagede as the capital of Mataram. During that time, the traditional silver, gold and copper industries began to develop, dominated by the use of repoussé (embossing) techniques. The products of this region were to fulfill the need of household and ceremonial equipment for the royal family. During the colonial period of the 1930s, silverworks and silver handicrafts prospered in Kotagede. The Dutch colonial government established the Stichting Beverding van het Yogyakarta Kent Ambacht to protect the silverwork of Kotagede. Filigree technique enters Kotagede around 1950 under the influence of craftsmen from Kendari, Sulawesi. According to local silversmiths, Sastro Dimulyo with his company “SSO” was the pioneer for introducing filigree technique in Kotagede.

Characterized of Kotagede silverware

Kotagede’s silverware is characterized with its floral motifs, e.g. leaf or lotus flower, based from the Hindu tradition; and their manual labor, kept historically authentic. Types of silverware produced by Kotagede are filigrees, silver-casting, sculptures (miniatures), and handmade products (necklaces, rings).

Jalan Kemasan, the main street leading into town from the north, is lined with silver workshops selling hand-beaten bowls, boxes, fine filigree and modern jewellery .

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