Little Holland’s rule over this vast land – today the world’s largest Muslim country by population – never loomed large in the European imagination (the Netherlands excepted) and thus has been too easily forgotten. Peter van Dongen’s Rampokan series of graphic novels (in Herge’s ligne-claire style) is the most prominent recent attempt to shine some light on the Dutch East Indies and it has obtained a bit of a cult following.
The colonial architecture went through the usual transformations, from awkward hybrids of the motherland and the vernacular to a cool and crisp classical elegance of the later imperial buildings. Henri Maclaine Pont’s work at Bandung is probably the most successful Dutch take on local building traditions, and in some ways Geoffrey Bawa is his spiritual offspring.
The ministries of Indonesia’s government still convene in elegant Dutch colonial buildings, though the names have all changed. The Daendels Palace is now the Finance Ministry, Buitenzorg is now Bogor, and the old Koningsplein is now the Medan Merdeka or Freedom Square.
The Buitenzorg Palace, chief residence of the Governor-General
Governor Bijleveld with Hamengkubuwono VIII, the Sultan of Jogjakarta
Paleis te Koningsplein, the Governor-General’s town residence
The new governor-general, Jonkheer Alidius Warmoldus Lambertus Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer, with his immediate predecessor Jonkheer Bonifacius Cornelis de Jonge
The palace of the Volksraad in Batavia
Opening of the Volksraad by Governor-General van Limburg Stirum