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SOLO RIVER

River of Life Bengawan Solo Solo River, or Bengawan Solo as it is called locally (Bengawan is an old Javanese word for river), is the longest river on the Indonesian island of Java. Solo River is approximately 540km in length. It rises on the slopes of Mount Lawu volcano and passes through the major city of Surakarta (called Solo by local inhabitants) thereafter the river has little gradient and meanders over the lowlands before discharging into the Java Sea at a point opposite Madura Island. The river’s marshy delta here is used for fish ponds. To reduce silting of the strait between Madura and the northern approach to Surabaya on Java, the main mouth of the Solo was diverted north in the 19th century. Flooding is common during the wet season and the consequent distribution of silt and volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the Java’s high population density. In the dry season much of the riverbed is dry. In the past, the river was an important transport link between Solo and the north coast of Java but these days, the river is too shallow to be navigated safely. However, Solo River and its tributaries is an important watercourse to the inhabitants and supplies the farmlands of the eastern and northern parts of the island with valuable water to irrigate crops. Bengawan Solo has also been a lifesaver - Solo River was the crash site of Garuda Indonesia Flight 421 in January 2002. The plane hit thick clouds and the engines cut out, unable to restart them, the pilot saw the river when he broke through the cloud cover and landed there. The depth of the river and the high water level saved all 54 passengers. Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

River of Life Indonesia and Java Indonesia is an archipelago of 17,508 islands with 238 million inhabitants making it the world's fourth most populous country after China, India and the United States. The nation’s fortunes were founded on the trade in aromatic spices, notably nutmeg, cloves and pepper. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism and periods of rapid economic change. With a population of 135 million, Java is home to 60% of Indonesia’s people. While the majority of the people of Java are Muslim, the island has a diverse mixture of religious beliefs, ethnicities and cultures. Java is almost entirely of volcanic origin; it contains thirty-eight mountains forming an east-west spine which have at one time or another been active volcanoes. Further mountains and highlands help to split the interior into a series of relatively isolated regions suitable for wet-rice cultivation; the rice lands of Java are among the richest in the world. Java was the first place where Indonesian coffee was grown, starting in 1699. Indonesia is currently the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world. Most of the crop is used in instant coffee, various manufactured products and in espresso blends, where it adds characteristic flavours and the all important crema on top of the coffee. After independence, the plantations throughout Indonesia either came under the control of the new government or were abandoned. Today close to 92% of coffee production is in the hands of small farmers or cooperatives. Since Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species (1861), the search was on to find an evolutionary “missing link” between humans and apes. In 1891, in the Bengawan Solo valley, a Dutch anthropologist, Eugène Dubois discovered human fossils of what has become known as Java Man. Dating back 1.7 million years, they were the first specimens of early human remains to be found outside of Africa or Europe and provided the evidence that first convinced many of Darwin’s theory that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors.

Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

Polluted River Java’s challenges The soil in the Solo valley is fertile, partly because of the volcanic activity of Mounts Merapi and Lawu. Combined with an abundant water source, this makes the hinterland good for planting vegetables, food and cash crops. But in the last 20 years, manufacturing industry and tourism have been booming and agriculture declining. Indonesia's high population and rapid industrialization present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels. Issues include large-scale deforestation (much of it illegal) and related wildfires causing heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; over-exploitation of marine resources; and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization and economic development, including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services. Deforestation and the destruction of peatlands make Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Habitat destruction threatens the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered, including Bali Starling, Sumatran Orangutan and Javan Rhinoceros. The Javan Rhinoceros has only one known population in the wild and no individuals in captivity. It is possibly the rarest large mammal on earth, with a population of as few as 40 in Ujung Kulon National Park on Java in Indonesia. The decline of the rhinoceros is attributed to poaching, primarily for their horns, which are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, fetching as much as £40,000 per kilogram on the black market – more valuable by weight than gold, platinum or cocaine. Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

Resourceful River Flooding The Bengawan Solo River has been important to the welfare of the people of Java since ancient times. These days, land use in the Solo basin is split between paddy fields (35%); other farmland (17%); forest (24%); and other uses (24%). Some 70% of the paddy fields are irrigated by 44 small, localised dams Java has a tropical monsoon climate. There is a lengthy wet season beginning in October and ending in April, with the wettest months being January and February with heavy rain falling mostly in the afternoons. There is a relatively short dry season from July through to September. As is common in tropical monsoon climates, temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year, averaging between 22°C and 29°C. Flooding along the Bengawan Solo River is a common occurrence. In fact, this annual inundation is a valuable means of fertilising the area with river bourne silt. But, during dry season, drought effects over 80% of the irrigated paddy fields in the basin. The construction of the Wonogiri Dam, completed in 1981, was part of a major flood control and irrigation plan for the overall Bengawan Solo river basin. The dam also generates hydroelectric power for the region, the reservoir is a water supply and is also used for water sports and other recreational purposes. Annual flash flooding continues. The inundations between 2007 and 2010 caused severe economic, social, and ecological damage and loss. Plans are being developed to improve flood management and to instigate countermeasure systems in the Upper Solo River basin especially in Surakarta City. It is believed that climate change will result in greater rainfall during the rainy season and harsher periods of drought between. In late December 2007 and early January 2008, persistent heavy rains led to overflowing rivers, flooding and landslides throughout Indonesia, resulting in numerous fatalities and crop losses. Bengawan Solo river basin was the hardest hit from flooding and landslides. More than 100 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been affected in East and Central Java Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

Resourceful River Natural disasters Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes including Mount Lawu and Mount Merapi. Mount Lawu, which straddles the southern border of East and Central Java, is located at 3,265 meters above sea level. In ancient Javanese mythology, Lawu is called Mahendra and legend has it that the gods who created the first kingdom in Java descended from heaven here. In later history, Lawu was the retreat of the last king of Majapahit in Java, Brawijaya V. On the eve of the Javanese New Year, thousands of adherents of the indigenous Javanese belief - kebatinan - climb to the summit to meditate. As in other sacred places in Java, names that dot the landscape often echo the ancient Indian Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata. The crater, for instance, is called Candradimuka, believed to be the place where the gods boiled Bhima's son Gatotkaca in molten metal to make him invincible. Bhima is the second of the five Pandawa brothers, who are the main protagonists in the Mahabharata. Brawijaya V had a fascination with Bhima - in the Karanganyar regency (in Central Java), on the Surakarta side of Lawu, he built two temples dedicated to him. These are Candi Sukuh which looks almost Mayan and Candi Cetho. Candi Cetho was developed on the orders of the late president Suharto without any archaeological considerations. Irresponsible and inappropriate development is still irreversibly changing the spiritual sites of Lawu. Mount Merapi is a volcanic mountain peak located near the centre of the island of Java, Indonesia. The volcano is about 20 miles (32 km) north of Yogyakarta and somewhat farther south of Semarang. Merapi (“Mountain of Fire”) rises to 9,551 feet (2,911 metres) and has steep slopes with dense vegetation on its lower flanks. It is the most active of Indonesia’s 130 active volcanoes. One of its largest eruptions occurred in 1006 and spread ash throughout central Java. Other major eruptions were those of 1786, 1822, 1872, 1930, and 1976. Almost half of Merapi’s eruptions have been accompanied by pyroclastic flows, which are clouds of superheated gases and incandescent solid particles. In the eruption of Nov. 22, 1994, the release of a pyroclastic flow killed 64 people. A series of eruptions of the volcano in late 2010, which included pyroclastic flows, killed scores of people, injured dozens more, and forced tens of thousands to evacuate the area.

Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

Working River Fishing Agriculture has been the Indonesia's largest employer for centuries with fish being the main source of animal protein in the average diet. With 13,667 islands, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago. Fishing in Indonesia is important for the tourism industry, for consumption and for export. Shrimp and tuna caught for Japan form a substantial share of fish exports. A total catch of over 4 million fish in 2000 placed Indonesia on the sixth position in the world fishing market. Commercial fishing is restricted to the narrow strip of inshore waters, especially in northern Java, but fishing is also carried out along the coast and in the rivers, lakes, coastal swamps, artificial ponds, and flooded rice fields. Fishing in Indonesia also is a major tourist activity. The most popular fishing sites are the island of Krakatoa and Ujung Kulon National Park in south west Java. Historically, the Bengawan Solo river was famous for its fresh water fish. But of the 30 native species of fish that used to live in the river, only a few survive today such as Jambal, Gabus and Putihan. Despite this, The Bengawan Solo River still forms a vital part of everyday life for people living close to its banks, providing water to wash, drink and irrigation for crops as well as fish to eat. The river is being developed for tourism with river trips offering visitors the opportunity to its beautiful scenery. During a river trip, people are able to see Elo trees growing in several areas along the river. According to popular belief, if you are lucky enough to see an Elo tree in flower then it is a sign that you will one day become rich. Visitors can also see an ancient shipwreck which sunk around three hundred years ago, in Trucuk. This boat is 40 meters long and 8 meters wide, and used to belong to a Chinese merchant. It sunk when it was sailing towards Ngawi. Bengawan Solo River was also known for Larung Getek, an annual tradition that used actors to re-enact Joko Tingkir’s journey down Bengawan Solo. Joko Tingkir founded the 16th century Javanese Kingdom of Pajang. Unfortunately, some parts of the river have become too shallow to navigate, and as the result the reenactment can no longer be completed. Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

Working River Solo Gethek Festival To familiarize the public with the Solo River, Solo City Government holds an annual ceremony called Gethek Solo Festival. Gethek Solo Festival is a river rafting festival designed to reestablish Bengawan Solo river as the main mode of transportation in the past and to preserve this tradition. During the festival, people perform historical reconstructions of daily life on the River Solo. The festival celebrates the past, bringing back memories of the merchants who often crossed the Solo River. Complete with costume and attributes, participants drive gethek boats carrying various merchandise such as produce, grains, cloth and cattle. The festival acts to encourage people to reconnect with Solo river conditions, become familiar with challenges the river is currently facing, and develop interest in looking after the river for future generations to enjoy. Sigra milir activities on the river are central to the festival, these include various performances such as dance, traditional music and fashion, which come together to form a river carnival.

Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

Working River Trade The river played important part in Javanese history. Its drainage basin is an important agricultural area, dominated by rice farming. The river transported fertile volcanic ash downstream, replenishing the soil. It also provided a link between Javanese port cities on the coast and the rice-growing hinterlands, with shallow vessels transporting rice to the ports to be sold. Trade with other parts of Asia such as India and China flourished as early as the 4th century. Java also took part in the global trade of nutmeg, cloves, pepper and other spices. Following the acquisition of much of Java by the Dutch colonial governmental, various cash crops was introduced to be planted across the river basin, such as coffee, sugar, cotton, rubber, tea and quinine. In the 19th and early 20th century, Javanese coffee gained global popularity. Java is the most developed island in Indonesia. The road transportation networks that existed since ancient times were connected and perfected in the early 19th century and the need to transport commercial produces such as coffee from plantations in the interior of the island to the harbour on the coast spurred the construction of railway networks. Today industry, business, trade and services flourish in major cities, such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, and Bandung; while some traditional Sultanate cities such as Yogyakarta, Surakarta, and Cirebon preserved its royal legacy and became centres of art, culture and tourism. For hundreds of years, tobacco has been a significant Indonesian industry, but in recent years it has been given a distinctive local boost. Kretek are cigarettes produced with a mix of tobacco and crushed cloves and they have been promoted since the early 20th century as means of relieving asthma, a smokers cough and other ailments. Today, their distinctive sweet, spicy scent dominates 90% of the domestic cigarette market and has forced Indonesia, once a famed exporter of cloves to become a net importer. Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

River City Surakarta or Solo City Surakarta’s population is just over half a million. It is located in central Java on the Solo River and originally developed as an inland port. It is now a trade centre for an area producing tobacco, rice and sugar. Surakarta, commonly called Solo City, is particularly noted for its batik cloth and gold work. The city has well established traditional markets. The Pasar Klewer is the biggest textile market in Indonesia and is famous for its batiks in all prices and qualities, while the Pasar Triwindhu specializes in antiques. Solo is also a cultural centre, featuring gamelan music and wayang, or shadow plays. Surakarta's outstanding feature is the vast, walled palace of the sultan, virtually a city in itself. The European section of the city, which contains a Dutch fort built in 1799, resembles an old Dutch town. Solo City has had to endure more than its fair share of suffering. In May 1998, triggered by rising oil prices, an angry mob ransacked and set many buildings on fire, particularly banks and official government buildings. But then the situation became uncontrolled as the mob also targeted shopping centres and other commercial buildings for destruction, before it finally turned into a racial riot as rioters targeted houses and business assets of the local Indonesian-Chinese, leading to widespread destruction in the region. Much more recently, a brutal suicide bombing took place in Surakarta in September 2011. The city also gives its name to a board game for two players. The object of the game is to capture all 12 of the opponent's pieces (or alternatively, have more pieces remaining on the board than one's opponent when no further captures can be made). Pieces always sit on a point of intersection of the board's grid lines. On a turn, a player either moves one of his pieces a single step to an unoccupied point in any direction (forwards, backwards, sideways, or diagonally), or makes a capturing move. A capturing move consists of traversing along an inner or outer circuit (coloured blue or green in the illustration) and landing on an enemy piece, capturing it. Captured pieces are permanently removed from play. Only unoccupied points may be travelled over; jumping over pieces is not permitted. Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

River Culture Javanese classic arts The Sunan (king) of Surakarta, although he no longer holds official political power, is still revered and holds an important position as a cultural symbol among Javanese people. As the centre of Javanese courtly culture, Surakarta is also the centre of royal Javanese dance. Students study these dances at the School of Arts in Surakarta (left). Traditional Javanese puppetry, a famous part of Javanese culture, is rooted in Hindu and Buddist mythology.There are two main forms: Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet – below left) and Wayang Golek (three-dimensional wooden puppets). Bengawan Solo is a famous Indonesian song about the Solo River. The song describes the legendary river in a poetic and nostalgic way - that it is surrounded by mountains, its sources are near the city of Surakarta, that it ends in the sea, and that the merchants make use of it: "Solo River, ancient your histories span. Linking present to past, linking the life of the soil and man. In the summer's heat your streams are sluggish and slow. In the rainy season's height far afield your banks overflow. Now you flow on through fertile rice fields, down to the sea at last. Here are ships of trade, and when your journey's over, sailors brave the ocean wide, seeking some far distant shore.” The Gamelan is probably Indonesia’s most distinctive musical form. Its characteristic waves of sound are played by orchestras of some 60 to 80 instruments, it consists of a large percussion section including bronze kettle drums, xylophones and gongs accompanied by spike fiddles and flutes. Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


SOLO RIVER

River Culture Batik The existence and use of batik (cloth using a wax-resist dying technique) was already recorded in the 12th century and the textile has since become a strong source of identity for Indonesians. Batik is regarded as formal attire for women and is acceptable for men to wear in the office or as a replacement for jacketand-tie at certain receptions. After the UNESCO recognition for Indonesian batik as an intangible world heritage on 2nd October 2009, the Indonesian government asked Indonesians to wear batik on Fridays. Javanese traditional batik, especially from Yogyakarta and Surakarta, has notable meanings. Indigo, dark brown, and white, represent the three major Hindu Gods of BrahmÄ , Visnu, and Ĺšiva. Some regions of Indonesia have their own unique patterns and certain patterns can only be worn by nobility; traditionally, wider stripes or wavy lines of greater width indicated higher rank. Infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck. Certain batik designs are reserved for brides and bridegrooms, as well as their families. The dead are shrouded in funerary batik. Batik clothing has revived somewhat in the turn of 21st century, due to the efforts of Indonesian fashion designers to innovate batik by incorporating new colours, fabrics, and patterns. Batik is now incorporated into many fashionable items such as a shirts, dresses, or scarves for casual wear. The Solo Batik Carnival (above) is held annually in June. It promotes creative fashion industries based on batik and is an event that showcases Surakarta as the centre of Javanese batik art. Now, not only is batik used as a material to clothe the human body, its uses also includes furnishing fabrics, heavy canvas wall hangings, tablecloths and household accessories. Batik techniques are used by famous artists to create batik paintings which grace many homes and offices. Solo River was compiled by Adrian Evans in 2012. Rivers of the World is a Thames Festival project delivered in partnership with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms with support from HSBC Global Education Trust. www.riversoftheworld.org


Solo River Pack