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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 entry, paper

-7.7955798, 110.3694896

Wed 18. [18 March 1903] Up at 4 and off at 5.30 or so, quite dark anyway. Had a carriage to myself at first, 3 boring men got in later. We are already on the beginning of the Fursten Land and I saw a swell with a gold tassel round his jockey cap whom my doctor friend told me must be one of a royal house. (These jockey caps are very odd - they're cut out behind, half the crown gone. The govt makes the king people a large allowance but very little is his to spend because he has to support such an enormous and far reaching family. The Dr told me how he had once been called in to operate on a baby of the Raja of Solo's for hair lip. There is a superstition which connects hair lip with the machinations of a tiger devil and the king refused to look upon the child. All sorts of ceremonies had to be gone through before the operation cd be performed. Grey morning with heavy rain, but fortunately it cleared before we reached Djokya [Yogyakarta] at 9.30. The proprietor of the Hotel Toegoe came down to meet me and see about my luggage. I had time to go up to the hotel and have a cup of tea and a rusk - it is a very nice comfortable place - and at 10 I started off by steam tram, light railway really, to Moentilan for Borobudur [Borobudor]. I had the 1st class compartment all to myself and slept for a bit, waking much revived. Amusing journey along the country roads. All the people here wear dark blue blue and white, or ..... a dark brown and white sarong. The women often have a dull green jacket and mostly a batek [sic] scarf falling to the knee, blue or brown. It's a pretty and graceful costume. The country mostly under rice but a good deal of cane also. The govt has had to restrict the cane area by order for they don't grow enough rice to make the island self supporting with its enormous population - it has doubled in the last 16 years. Only a very little of the more expensive kinds of rice is exported. In spite of the restrictions on Chinese immigration, the only people besides me[?] who r....... ....... are Celestials and every tidy fair sized house in every village is sure to belong to a Chinese[?]. A great many of the women had horrible goitres. I got to Moentilan at 11.45 about and hired a sadoe from a Chinaman in which I drove off along the country roads between ricefields to Boro Budur. The rice is in every stage at once and in neighbouring fields you see ploughing, planting weeding and garnering going on. Very thickly populated. We went along the tram line for 20 min. then turned off to the left and drove towards a line of volcanic hills. The temple stands up on its hillock and is visible a long way off. It is indeed a part of the hillock itself, but though it is so firmly built its terraces are shaken with earthquake. It gives no impression of height. The first scultured [sic] platform has groups of people sacrificing on an altar with a panel with a single figure between. At the foot of the stone stairs are lions of sorts and the doorways - not true arches - are sculptured with nagas. The next platform has the whole life of Buddha very wonderfully carved. I failed to identify the scenes, not having a guide book, but the vision the birth the preparation, the flight and the whole tale is there. Ships and houses, elephants horses all very beautifully rendered. The inside of the outer wall is also sculptured, chiefly with trees and animals. The next gallery is entirely occupied with Buddhas sitting in contemplation. There are also 100s of Buddhas in all the cupolas all over. Then there are 4 galleries without sculpture but with lots of sort of openwork stupas and finally the central tope which has a chamber inside containing the unfinished Buddha. The figure is however buried up to its neck - I don't know whether this is the result of the earthquake which knocked in the top of the chamber. There was a little offering of flowers in front of it and ashes of burnt offerings. Lovely view across the hill bounded plain. Went down and into a charming D.B. where I found a friendly person who gave me selzer and biscuits and so away about 2. I might have stayed an hour longer for the tram is an hour later that I thought. Hibiscus and a white thing growing like an iris in the ditches. I had to wait at Moentilan - it poured with rain. Had tea consisting of Pilsener beer and Marie biscuits. So home getting back soon after 6. Bath, wrote my diary till dinner. Sat by an old Dutchman who spoke French well and we discussed the intermarriage question. He said there was no prejudice against a little native blood - and indeed I have seen lots of evident half castes who are treated just like Europeans, men and women. At the same time I doubt whether the mixture makes a race anything like as good as Europeans; my doctor told me that children had to be sent home between the ages of 10 and 20 otherwise they don't develop properly and probably the Dutch who stay deteriorate and the half castes are a mongrel race something like our Eurasians.

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