March 14, 2009

The Hermes God Statue on Harmoni Bridge

Photography by Trisno Tohar

If you are crossing Harmoni intersection, Central Jakarta, you can find an interesting antique statue stand on the Harmoni Bridge, between Veteran Street and Juanda Street. This bronze statue has known as The Hermes God Statue. This statue has a shaped as a firm man, its head wearing a winged helmet with eyes looks up to its right hand that pointed the sky. The left hand holding a winged staff that rolled by 2 snakes. Its right leg folded, while the left leg stand on a ball. It looks like squaring off to fly to the blue sky.

This statue describes The Hermes God in Greek myths. It is also known as Mercurius in Roman myths. Hermes or Mercurius has deemed as a trader’s guardian angel. It might be the purposes to put that statue on this bridge. To guard and protect traders who cross Harmoni Bridge.

It’s almost no one knows about this statue’s history, even the History & Museums Department from Jakarta Administration doesn’t have much information about this statue.

There is one story that is most acceptable about this statue’s history. R Ko King Tjoen, a dermatologist and speleologist, claimed that he knows about the statue’s history in Kompas.com.

He has a good relationship with Prof. Dr. Ernst Stolz, dermatologist from Rotterdam, Netherland. Ernst was born in Mataram Street, Jakarta. Ernst claimed that the statue has been owned by his grandfather once, Karl Wilhelm Stolz (born on January 28, 1869 in German) came to Batavia as a trader. Karl was in-service in Banjarmasin and Sibolga, and then moved to Batavia. On June 9, 1897, he married a Switzerland lady, Matilda Jenny, in Buitenzorg (Bogor now).

In 1900, Karl got a Netherland citizenship and opened a store on Rijswijksestraat (Veteran Street now) no. 28. The store was called Jenny & Co., specialist in metal items and glassware from Geislingen. The store was growing fast, so Karl opened branches in Semarang and Surabaya.

The Hermes God Statue was one of the merchandise in that store. According to Prof. Stolz’s father (died in 1989 in Den Haag, Netherland), the statue was bought by his grandfather from Hamburg around 1920. Cause his grandfather loved this statue, he put it in his garden, in Meester Cornelis (Jatinegara now). But his religious wife didn’t like the naked statue. For her the statue was too vulgar.

She always asked her husband to put away the statue. When the wife died in 1930 in Den Haag, Karl decided to sell his business and store. Karl Stolz died in March 30, 1945, as a Japan’s war prisoner and buried at Semarang. Before selling his store at Veteran Street, he rendered the statue to Batavia Government as thankfulness for a chance to running a business in Batavia

In August 1999, this antique statue was missing from its place, Jakarta citizens was shocked. It became headlines in newspapers for a while. But then Jakarta government made a statement that the Hermes statue was moved to Fatahillah Museum to protect it from stealing and mutilation. So the Hermes Statue that we see on Harmoni Bridge today is a duplicate. We can find the original statue on backyard of Fatahillah Museum, old town, West Jakarta.

Source: Kompas.com

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