Sri Ayati’s Legacy
Artist: John van der Sterren
Oil on Canvas, 200 x 130 cm., 2006
“The imposing, six-foot-tall painting is a potent symbol of modern Indonesian history: the country’s founding father, Sukarno, cradling a dead, barefoot rebel killed by Dutch colonial forces amid rice fields and smoldering volcanoes in late-1940s Java.
“The fighter’s bloodied shirt draws immediate attention — but so does a necklace dangling from the body: a Christian cross, worn by the independence martyr for the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
“The 2006 painting has become the symbol of a global initiative [the Humanitarian Islam movement]. . . that seeks to reinterpret Islamic law dating from the Middle Ages in ways that conform to 21st-century norms.”
~New York Times, “Indonesians Seek to Export a
Modernized Vision of Islam”
Alissa Wahid, the daughter of H.E. KH. Abdurrahman Wahid (Indonesia’s 4th president) and Putri Guntur Soekarno, the granddaughter of President Soekarno, presented the painting to H. Yaqut Qoumas—Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama’s 5-million-member young adults movement—at a ceremony held on March 30, 2017 to officially launch the Humanitarian Islam movement.
Today, the painting hangs proudly in Gerakan Pemuda Ansor’s Jakarta headquarters. A four-page brochure explains the significance of Sri Ayati’s Legacy and contains the lyrics (below, in English translation) of The Old Cathedral’s Silhouette, a song composed and performed by the legendary Indonesian folk musician, Leo Kristi. Himself a Muslim, Leo Kristi attended a Protestant elementary school in Surabaya, East Java, and developed a life-long affection for Christian hymns while singing in the school church as a young child.
This deeply-moving song is written from the perspective of a young Catholic freedom fighter—like the one whose broken body lies cradled in President Soekarno’s arms—who gave his life to free Indonesia from colonial rule.