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Raffles Chair Made in Jepara

The Raffles chair experienced its golden age in Jepara in the 90s. At that time, the demand for Raffles chairs, especially for exports, reached its peak. However, the chair taken from the name of the Governor of the Dutch East Indies, Thomas Stamford Raffles who was in power in 1811-1816 AD has a long history that is not known to many people.

It is not known exactly when the Raffles chair became known to the public. In one of the articles written by a researcher from Yogyakarta, Andi Setiono Mangoenprasojo, it was written that the Raffles Chair was one of the most famous types of 19th century colonial furniture.

The Raffles style of chair furniture is a type of chair that developed in England. The characteristics of the Raffles chair can especially be seen in the profiling of the legs, the crown of the headrest and the wicker rattan as the seat cushion.

“The Raffles chair in Java was actually popular when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles was in power in Singapore. Not when he became Governor of the Dutch East Indies," said Andi.

"So, the initial naming of the Raffles chair cannot be ascertained whether when Thomas Stamford Raffles served as Governor of the Dutch East Indies or when he became ruler in Singapore," he said.

Raffles chair made in Jepara

The Raffles chair was once one of the prima donna of chair craftsmen in Jepara. Especially in Dukuh Tendoksari, Tahunan Village, Jepara Regency. Because at that time the demand for exports was very high. But now it's starting to recede with the times. One of the generations of Raffles chair craftsmen in Jepara that can still be found today is the generation of craftsmen in 1959.

The Raffles chair is present in the culture of the Javanese nobility which is then mass-produced to this day, inseparable from the influence of General Raffles' policies. Where it was stated that General Raffles made a policy by imposing a Land Rent System or a land lease system for the Javanese population. Colonial policies like this were of course very burdensome for the Javanese people because of very high taxes. Tax collection is done collectively in each village.

However, due to difficulties in collecting taxes, the Colonials finally cooperated with the Regents to collect taxes from the people. There is a kind of "prize" that is distributed to the regents for their efforts to collect taxes from the community. The prize was given in the form of a 'chair'. Eventually, the chair became known as the “Raffles Chair”. (Referring to the policies made by General Raffles).

In a fairly well-known painting by Auguste van Pers (1815-1871) entitled "Raden Adi Pati" depicts a Javanese aristocrat or a Regent sitting on a chair. Later the chair became known as the Raffles Chair.

Then, who created the Raffles Chair? This is interesting, because at that time there were three British people who became masters in the furniture industry. The names of the three furniture designers are also immortalized as one of the names of the chairs in Jepara.

The three names are, Thomas Chippendale (1718-1719), George Heppelwhite (1727-1786), finally Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806).

Thomas Chipendeale, more classic style. his works are influenced by French tastes with very elaborate forms. In Jepara, the name Thomas Chipendael is immortalized as the name "Kursi Cipendel". While the debate over who actually created the Raffles Chair, there are two different versions, George Happelwhite or Thomas Sheraton.

Andi Setiono Mangoenprasojo as a curator at the Jakarta History Museum (MSJ) expressed his opinion. Raffles chair is more influenced by the design of Thomas Sheraton. Based on his book collection Furniture from the Netherlands East Indies 1600-1900- A Historical Perspective Based on The Collection op Troppenmuseum, by Dave van Gompel. Uniquely, the name "Sheraton" has become one of the most popular chair names in Jepara.

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