One of the leading museums in Yogyakarta city is the Sultan’s Carriage Museum inside the Kraton Complex. There are a number of museums in this historic city, but the Sultan’s Carriage Museum is unique since it focuses on only one kind of artifact – the Sultan’s royal chariots or carriages.
Found inside the royal complex, near the entrance of the Kraton (Sultan’s Palace), Sultan’s Carriage Museum showcases 23 expensive chariots that were imported from different parts in the Netherlands and used by a few sultans. Also referred to as Museum Kareta Kraton, this museum is considered the second most frequently visited in the city, next to Museum Sonobudoyo.
Despite the many interesting museums such as the Aircraft Museum, Museum Affandi and Museum Kekayon, Museum Kareta Kraton is truly a special museum like no other. Not only are the carriages on display worth visiting, the museum architecture is also quite a sight to behold. The palace museum was built on 14,000-square-meter land area.
The unique collection of 23 ancient chariots are classified into three types: the open roof with two wheels such as the Kapolitin carriage, the open roof with four wheels, such as the Kyai Jongwiyat carriage, and the closed roof with four wheels, such as the Kyai Garudayaksa and Kyai Wimanaputra carriages.
Another way of classifying them is according to their purpose or use. The first type includes carriages that were used for recreation; second includes those that were used by the sultan’s guards, palace dancers, and palace soldiers; third are those that were used by the sultan and his family; and finally the one carriage that was used as a hearse for the sultan who died (used only twice).
Below is a complete list of the royal carriages and a short description for each.
Perhaps the most popular is Kareta Garudo Yeksa, which is also known as the “Golden Carriage” for its small 20-kg, 18-carat Garuda statue made of pure gold. It was made in the Netherlands in 1861 during the reign of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono (HB) VI. This 8-horse carriage was used during the coronation of an Emperor. It was said that this carriage was only cleaned before a coronation because they didn’t want to damage the golden Garuda. Only one person can ride this at one time, and until now the carriage is still being used.
Meanwhile, the Kyai Kareta Jongwiyat was made in 1880 and was used in war by the Sri Sultan HB VII. It’s ironic that although most of the carriages were made and imported from the Netherlands, this sultan waged war against the Dutch more than any other sultans. This chariot was drawn by six horses.
Another important chariot is the Kareta Kanjeng Nyai Jimad. This heirloom, which was made in the Netherlands in 1750, was used daily by three sultans, Sri Sultan HB I, II and III. This 8-horse carriage was made from buffalo skin.
The other chariots are the following: Kyai Kareta Jolodoro (made in 1815), Blue Roto Kareta (made in 1901), Kyai Rejo Pawoko (made in 1901), Kareta Landower (made in 1901), Kareta Premili (assembled in Semarang in 1925), Kareta Kus No. 10 (made in 1901), Kareta Kapulitin, Kyai Kareta Kutha Kaharjo (made in 1927), Kareta Kus Gading (made in 1901), Kareta Puspoko Kyai Manik, Roto Kareta Praloyo (made in 1938), Kyai Kareta Jetayu (made in 1931), Kyai Kareta Harsunaba (purchased in 1870), Kyai Wimono Kareta Putro (purchased in 1860), Kareta Kyai Manik Retno (purchased in 1815), Kareta Mondro Juwolo (made in 1800), Landower Kareta Wisman (purchased in 1901), Kareta Landower Surabaya (made in Switzerland), and Kyai Noto Puro.
The Sultan’s Carriage Museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM; on Fridays, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 noon.