Map of the royal tombs at Kotagede

One of the most striking maps that is georeferenced recently, is this manuscript plan of the royal tombs at Kotagede. In this historic neighbourhood in Yogyakarta the remains of the first capital of the Mataram sultanate, including its royal cemetery, are still visible. The large plan, measuring 81 x 93 cm., is in Javanese script and drawn around 1890. In the legend 295 graves are listed and in the map itself four types of graves are distinguished by colour: purple, green, red and yellow.


The image can be viewed in detail in the KITLV digital image library:

Urban planning from the nineteenth century

From time to time we will post some background story in this blog about an object in our collection.

It’s always nice to see a direct result from your work in the form of a reward or a goal you reached. With our Maps in the Crowd project we can see the result bar progressing to our end goal with each map you, the reader, georeferenced. At the moment we are close to having half of our maps done, thanks to you. Not all things in life show a direct consequence, but studying the past can give us a view how some plans can show their influence ten, twenty and maybe even a hundred years later.

Soerabaja 1898

Our story begins with a map of Surabaya from 1898. The map, made as an attachment for a research about the water supply of the city, is marked with a few red stripes. It was made for a Dutch engineer and architect named Hidde Petrus Nicolaas Halbertsma. While Halbertsma’s report is not easily available, the map clearly shows his plan. To get more clean water to the growing city, water sources from the nearby mountains needed to be used.

Soerabaja 2 1898

In a report from 1917 about the status of the water supply, Halbertsma’s work is mentioned again. The plans he worked on, almost twenty years before, serve as a base for the current urban planners. The report from 1917 states that the city is in dire need of more clean water and carefully explains the cost and processes needed to accomplish this. Haste was needed according to the writers, before 1920 the supply needed to rise with nearly 50% and even more water was needed before 1930.  Aside from a lot of interesting stories about urban planning and water supplies, the main question that rises is: Did they eventually build those reservoirs that our Dutch architect planned? The KITLV collection gives us the option to view the city over the years. Soerabaja 1925

The map above from 1925 does not show any waterworks yet at the spots planned by Halbertsma. Maybe the building did not go as planned, or there wasn’t enough funding, we don’t know. The map from 1943 however…

Soerabaja 1943

This map clearly shows the water supplies of the city. The reservoir or tower with the number 17 beneath it is almost on the same spot where our Dutch architect planned it. The reservoir is build closer to the city then Halbertsma planned, but it is there. Even today the Surabaya water works, build somewhere between 1925 and 1943, are still there: View the water works on Google Maps

If you are interested you can view the maps yourself in the links below. For more colonial city planning or architecture you can go to

Halbertsma’s map from 1898

Map of Surabaya from 1925

Map of Surabaya from 1943

Sketch map of Sumatra

From time to time we will post some background story in this blog about an object in our collection.

After the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the kingdom of the Netherlands was slowly given back her colonies in the east, most of which had been under a short British rule. The kingdom traded a few of her other colonies to the British for this deal. One of the more important treaties around this transaction is called the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.A remnant of this time is in our collection: a sketch map of the West coast of Sumatra, made around the end of the Java War (1825-1830), a few years after the treaty was signed. Spread around the map you can see notes (in Dutch) about tribes, local leaders and parts that used to belong to the English.

Hele kaart

On this map you can see blue colored areas on the coastline. In the text on the map it says that the author considered these parts under authority of the Dutch around 1830.

Engelse overname
This note says that these lands were part of the treaty of 1824. Literally it says: “This part was gained from the English since 1825.”

The map is really an all-rounder in it’s focus. The author added notes about different local leaders, tribes, and resources. Some tribes were considered rather dangerous and were described as ‘rough’ or ‘wild’.

Wilde stammen
A small, but rough tribe.

Different resources can be found on the coast of Sumatra: coal, gold and even elephants.

The deal with the British did not mean that they immediately ruled the islands of modern Indonesia. In short, a lot of unrest brewed under the people of the Dutch Indies which led to revolts all across the land. These unrest’s caused the Java War. After this war, the Dutch government tried to focus its actions mainly on Java and Sumatra, leaving the insurrections on the other islands be. The government only dealt with the local leaders on these parts of the land. On the West coast of Sumatra was the sultanate of Aceh. This is one of the area’s the Dutch found very difficult to deal with. Around these parts there was a lot of privateering and the people of Aceh were not very fond to join the Dutch colonization. Our next post in this blog will be about the unrest that followed a few decades after the treaty, the Aceh war.

Voorbode Atjeh
The Dutch note says that the coast of Aceh is a dangerous one.

You can view the map yourself in the KITLV database: