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Javanese Village - Expo Paris 1889

Javanese Village at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1889
Architect(s) : Bernard

One of the curiosities, not only of the Dutch exhibition, but of the whole Exhibition, is the Javanese village (Kampong) at the end of the Esplanade des Invalides.

This very private exhibition was organised by Mr. Bernard, who has been living in Java for eighteen years and who has done a most interesting work there. He has built a Javanese village: he has added a few Indian dwellings which he found characteristic and has populated it with 60 people, almost all of whom are from the Pranger tribe of the mountain.

Here we have before our eyes the life led by 21,000,000 human beings. First we see the chief's house, built like all the others in bamboo, raised on stilts to protect the inhabitants from the attacks of the wild animals.

A restaurant has been set up here where you can taste local products served by Malays dressed in white.

A little further on, there is an ordinary house where you can see hatters weaving huge hats also made of bamboo; then the kitchen where an old Javanese woman cooks rice.

And in all this there is a population, a mixture of Chinese and Malay, where the half-naked women have oiled hair and their skin is made up in ways that more than one European would like to know.

But the marvel is the theatre, where an orchestra composed of xylophones and gongs of different calibres and a primitive cello makes bayadères dance, real bayadères, which we had all the trouble in the world to obtain from the Prince of Pranger, who would not let them leave his harem. Covered with jewels and gems, scarcely dressed in precious fabrics of sparkling colours, a quiver on their backs, a halo of feathers around their heads, they look, with their precocious 14 years, like brown animated statuettes, a sample of an unknown civilisation. They have a particular charm, and as you watch them slowly turn, you are far away from the Esplanade des Invalides and you are amazed to hear the tram horn.

The Kampong is certainly one of the entertainments of the Exhibition.

© Guide Bleu du Figaro et du Petit Journal 1889