Mount Merapi – One starts off at midnight and summits by sunrise to biscuits and hot tea.

Yogyakarta (often called “Jogja”) is a city on the Indonesian island of Java known for its traditional arts and cultural heritage. Its ornate 18th-century royal complex, or kraton, encompasses the still-inhabited Sultan’s Palace. Also within the kraton are numerous open-air pavilions that host classical Javanese dance shows and concerts of gamelan music, characterized by gongs, chimes and plucked string instruments. ― Google

Borobudur Temple Compounds

This famous Buddhist temple, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, is located in central Java. It was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and, at the top, a monumental stupa. The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,500 m2. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. The monument was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s.

Mount Merapi, Gunung Merapi.

Photo: Wili Lumintang

Mount Merapi, (IndonesianGunung Merapilit.‘Fire Mountain’, also in Javanese), is an active stratovolcano located on the border between the province of Central Java and the Special Region of YogyakartaIndonesia. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548. It is located approximately 28 km (17 mi) north of Yogyakarta city which has a population of 2.4 million, and thousands of people live on the flanks of the volcano, with villages as high as 1,700 m (5,577 ft) above sea level.

Smoke can often be seen emerging from the mountaintop, and several eruptions have caused fatalities. A pyroclastic flow from a large explosion killed 27 people on 22 November 1994, mostly in the town of Muntilan, west of the volcano.[3] Another large eruption occurred in 2006, shortly before the Yogyakarta earthquake. In light of the hazards that Merapi poses to populated areas, it was designated as one of the Decade Volcanoes.

On the afternoon of 25 October 2010, Merapi erupted on its southern and southeastern slopes.[4] A total of 353 people were killed over the next month, while 350,000 were forced to flee their homes;[5] most of the damage was done by pyroclastic flows, while heavy rain on 4 November created lahars which caused further damage. Most of the fissures had ceased erupting by 30 November, and four days later the official threat level was lowered.[6] Merapi’s characteristic shape was changed during the eruptions, with its height lowered 38 m (125 ft) to 2,930 m (9,613 ft).[2]

Since 2010, Merapi had experienced several smaller eruptions, most noticeably two phreatic eruptions which occurred on 18 November 2013 and 11 May 2018. The first and larger of these, caused by a combination of rainfall and internal activity, saw smoke issued up to a height of 2,000 m (6,562 ft).[7] There have been several small eruptions since the beginning of 2020,[a] which are of great interest to volcanologists.

Spirit Kraton of Merapi

The Javanese believe that the Earth is not only populated by human beings, but also by spirits (makhluk halus). Villages near Merapi believe that one of the palaces (in Javanese kraton) used by the rulers of the spirit kingdom lies inside Merapi, ruled by Empu Rama and Empu Permadi. This palace is said to be a spiritual counterpart to the Yogyakarta Sultanate, complete with roads, soldiers, princes, vehicles, and domesticated animals. Besides the rulers, the palace is said to also be populated by the spirits of ancestors who died as righteous people. The spirits of these ancestors are said to live in the palace as royal servants (abdi dalem), occasionally visiting their descendants in dreams to give prophecies or warnings. “[54]

A spirit house is a shrine to the protective spirit of a place  found in Southeast Asian countries of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. The spirit house is normally in the form of small roofed structure, often miniturizes and mounted on a pillar or a dais.

Spirits of Merapi

To keep the volcano quiet and to appease the spirits of the mountain, the Javanese regularly take offerings on the anniversary of the sultan of Yogyakarta’s coronation.[55] For Yogyakarta Sultanate, Merapi holds a significant cosmological symbolism, because it forms a sacred north-south axis line between Merapi peak and Southern Ocean (Indian Ocean). The sacred axis is signified by Merapi peak in the north, the Tugu Yogyakarta monument near Yogyakarta main train station, the axis runs along Malioboro street to Northern Alun-alun (square) across Keraton Yogyakarta (sultan palace), Southern Alun-alun, all the way to Bantul and finally reach Samas and Parangkusumo beach on the estuary of Opak river and Southern Ocean.[56] This sacred axis connected the hyangs or spirits of mountain revered since ancient times—often identified as “Mbah Petruk” by Javanese people—The Sultan of Yogyakarta as the leader of the Javanese kingdom, and Nyi Roro Kidul as the queen of the Southern Ocean, the female ocean deity revered by Javanese people and also mythical consort of Javanese kings.[57]

Winter 2001

WE&P by: EZorrillaM.