The Old Mosque of Angke

June 14, 2018 | Candrian Attahiyyat


The story starts with the history and origin of Kampung Bali (Bali Village) in Batavia. The history of Kampung Bali begins in 1687 when the VOC gave 3 (three) villages to the loyal Balinese residents lived within the walls of the city of Batavia. The objective was to remove Balinese, who were not granted privileges, from within the city walls. The other objective was to place the Balinese in the outpost line to defend Batavia from the Sultanate of Banten. This village is later known as Kampung Bali. The first inhabitants were predominantly Javanese Moslem from Banten. Slowly, the Balinese and the Javanese blend in, many of the Balinese became Moslems. In 1761, they built a mosque for Moslem. Today, this mosque is known as Angke Mosque.


Angke Mosque, 1921. surrounded by plantations. (photo: colletion Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures – CC BY-SA 3.0)


Use a GPS when you are going to Angke Mosque. Although accessible, you will get confused once you get to the main road of Pangeran Tubagus Angke and start searching for the aisle of Gang Mesjid I RT 01 RW 05 Kelurahan Angke, Kecamatan Tambora, West Jakarta. All of the alleys along that main road look alike. Even the signage is too small, as if it is adjusting to the narrow and dense alley with many vehicles pass by. Most first-timers come by car will be perplexed since the alley only fits for two-wheeled vehicles. So, just leave your car in any shop to park, then take your journey on foot. It is only a 5-minute walk from there.

Walking down a few meters pass a residential area, you will find a simple run-down gate, marked “You are entering Angke Mosque area (Al Anwar)”. Beyond this gate is a cemetery complex of Al Habib Syarif Al Kadri on the left side, while on the right side in the middle of a densely populated area is the beautiful towering building of the old mosque, the Angke Mosque.

Angke Mosque is now 250 years old and under restoration by Lingkar Warisan Kota Tua (Lingwa) or Jakarta Heritage Circle, an organization concerns about the conservation of heritage buildings. Toeti Heraty Roosseno is the chairman of Lingwa and I am also involved in it. Lingwa has proposed a number of buildings to be restored and the final decision favor restoration of the Angke Mosque. The main objective is the diversity in history, the architecture and the ornament of Angke Mosque. Moreover, there are also four supporting arguments: (1) it is a registered cultural heritage property, (2) it meets the condition of authenticity, (3) it is a beautiful building, (4) it needs restoration.


Angke Mosque in early 20th century. (photo: collection Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures – CC BY-SA 3.0)

The evidence of diversity in Angke Mosque, can be seen from the historical records that mention the role of Balinese, Javanese, Arabs and Chinese during the construction and development of Angke Mosque. Local inhabitants are predominantly Javanese from Banten, the Balinese were migrants intentionally placed by VOC authority at that time. Balinese was a majority among the other ethnic groups. They provide the plot of land for development of Angke Mosque. The Arab migrants were not many yet played a significant role in guiding the Islam. The Arabs often serve as advisor in religious activity and in construction of the mosque. Meanwhile, the Chinese, who mostly own plantations and sugar cane plants, participated in the funding or materials provision. A number of Chinese Moslem were possibly involved and overseen the construction of Angke Mosque directly. Many believes that Sheikh Lion Tan was the overseer of the construction of Angke Mosque. The grave of Sheikh Lion Tan laid behind the mosque.


Angke Mosque, the condition before the restoration of 2017. (photo: Candrian Attahiyyat)

The architectural evidence of the Indonesia’s diversity can be seen from the tiered-roof, which generally found in many old mosques on Java Island in the 18 th century. Even though it has Javanese characteristics, the roof of Angke Mosque is slightly different compared to the roof of mosque in Java in general. The roof has an upward-curving ridge shaped like the tail of a swallow. The feature is commonly found in Chinese temples. The curved-shape of mihrab, pulpit and wooden trellis in every window, reminds us of the Arab-Moorish style. The main entrance shows the Dutch colonial style, while the carvings engraved over the outside wall are in Balinese style, which reminds us of the carvings on Candi (temple) Bentar. Majority of the carvings are Balinese with a mixture of the Dutch decorative pattern. Today, the Balinese and the Javanese are no longer the majority population in Angke. In fact, there is no Balinese anymore. The majority of residents in Angke are now Chinese. However, the existence of this

Chinese population does not necessarily lead to conflict, on the contrary, there is harmony in the neighborhood. Muslims respect Chinese, and vice versa. On the occasion of breaking fast together (Ramadan) which has become a tradition in Angke Mosque for a long time, many Chinese residents donate the food. This is a testament to the success of managing cultural diversity to live together in peace and harmony.

Candrian Attahiyyat
University of Indonesia archaeologist; The member of DKI Jakarta Province Culture Heritage Team for the Period 2017-2020.
Tags : architecture, diversity, Jakarta, mosque, Old Mosque

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