Tracing the Mystery of Tugu Gono Manggala-Sangid

The story of the surprising archeological finding by Henry Irving (1813) is lent and almost publicly exhibited!

During the Dutch-Indies colonial era, there was a countless number of archeological artifacts shipped to the West through the conspiracy of colonial administers and Javanese elites. Some of the artifacts were stored in European museums (and warehouses), some were turned into private collections, and some can no longer be traced. One of the archeological artifacts that was once neglected and now forgotten was the monument of mass grave Gono Manggala-Sangid that was found by Henry Irving, and brought to Britain by Crawfurd and MacKenzie. They were Thomas Stamford Raffles’ assistant in 1813 during their voyage in Ophelia.

This monument, whose shape is more like a statue rather than an inscription stone, was found near the mass grave area that was assumed to be dug in the 13th Century. Based on a number of related studies, the monument was assumed to function as a warning sign so that the locals would not approach the pit of illness in Gono Manggala-Sangid. This statue also became a historical monument regarding an episode of mass ‘cleansing’, when men, women, elderly people, and infants were slaughtered under the command of King Tohjoyo. The King was threatened by the illness brought by the supporters of Anusapati, the son of Tunggul Ametung that was killed by Ken Arok, his father, using a dagger crafted by Mpu Gandring. According to the statue that was attached to the monument, the cleansing done during the brief reign of Tohjaya (1249-1250 M) was considered as an effort to heal Tumapel. The sick people were located in Gono Manggala-Sangid to be exterminated along with their worsen illness. The Tambora disaster that followed in 1815 had closed the steps left on the digging site. As a special note, at the bottom of the monument was written (in English translated version):

“The one within the space, but occupies no space. The one within the time, but occupies no time.”

Along with Mr. Engelhard, Raffles took those items to be researched further with Royal Archaic Society in Britain. Unfortunately, they failed to answer the riddle. The failure was followed by the dismissal of Royal Archaic Society due to an internal conflict with the Royal family. Those happenings made the archives (and manuscripts) about the community floated by and missed from the mainstream historians’ attention.

After some time of institutional approach with The British Museums, at last CE.ME.TI: ALTERNATIVE HISTORICAL RESEARCH DEPARTMENT in 2015 was allowed to borrow, and exhibit Monument/Statue Gono Manggala-Sangid with recommendation and guarantee under the correspondence with Troppenmuseum. The item was arrived in 2 Mei 2015 and now is located behind this wall. Sadly, the cargo box containing the Gono Manggala-Sangid is not allowed to be opened before the local government grants their approvals. While waiting for the administrational process, CE.ME.TI honorably invited Daliho Kusbirin to do some possible trace back to investigate the narration that had gone along with the uprooted statue from the monument. Along with this exhibition, CE.ME.TI asked the audiences to come as close as possible with the memories that had (possibly) gone along with ‘Tambora’.

Spectators who wish to access the artifacts and studies done by Daliho Kusbirin behind this wall should contact the staff of Cemeti Art House. We would gladly take you in a journey back in time and dig the memories together.

This exhibition is supported by Cemeti Art House and CKU (Centre for Culture and Development, Embassy of Denmark) as the part of Liminal Art Project (2015); entitled Anatomy of the (Lost) Memory – Collective Remembering Through Institutional Art (Liminal 08)