The History of the Development of the Bukittinggi Clock Tower

The History of the Development of the Bukittinggi Clock Tower

For those of you who have visited the city of Bukittinggi, you must know the Clock Tower. Yes, Jam Gadang is the name of a clock tower located in downtown Bukittinggi, West Sumatra province. The location is surrounded by the Lower Market, Upper Market, Bukittinggi Plaza and Bung Hatta Palace. The name Gadang comes from the Minangkabau language which means "big", this name was taken because the clocks on the four sides of the tower are quite large in diameter, which is 80 cm.

Apart from being a monument to the city of Bukittingi, Jam Gadang is also a destination object for both domestic and foreign tourists. From the top of the tower, tourists can enjoy views of the city of Bukittinggi which consists of hills, valleys and buildings that line the center of the city. Currently, with the expansion of the park around the Jam Gadang tower, this place has become an open space for local people who wish to hold certain types of events, such as bazaars, festivals and others.

Development History

According to stories from historical figures, the construction of the Jam Gadang tower began around 1826 during the Dutch colonial period in Indonesia. The Clock Tower was built as a gift for the secretary of the city of Bukittingi, Rook Maker.

The design was designed by Yazid Rajo Mangkuto, an indigenous architect, and the laying of the first stone was done by Rook Maker's son who was then 6 years old. Construction is predicted to spend 3000 Gulden. At that time, the value of this figure was quite fantastic. It is not surprising that in the history of its construction which took quite a long time, the Gadang Clock has become the center of attention so that it is widely known among the public.

Since its establishment until now, the gadang clock ornament has undergone several changes, especially on the roof. When it was first built, the roof of the tower was made in a round shape with a statue of a rooster on it facing east. During the Japanese colonial period, the roof was renovated into a shape like a pagoda or pagoda. Then after Indonesia's independence, the roof of the tower was changed into a shape like the Minangkabau house custom as well as becoming a symbol of the Minangkabau tribe. Sponsors Link

The last renovation on the Clock Tower was carried out in 2010 by the Indonesian Heritage Preservation Agency (BPPI) in collaboration with the Bukittinggi city government and the Dutch Embassy in Jakarta. The renovation was inaugurated on December 22, 2010, the 262nd anniversary of the city of Bukittinggi. Until now, the Jam Gadang has been preserved.

From a building standpoint, the Jam Gadang was built without supporting iron and cement mortar. The mixture is only white sand, lime and egg white as the glue. Well, this egg white, apart from being a cooking and beauty ingredient, is also believed to contain a very strong adhesive substance. This has also been supported by several studies on the content of eggs. In history, other buildings such as the Colosseum in Rome, Sultan Grand Mosque in Riau, Borobudur Temple in Jogja and other historic buildings were built using egg whites.

Back at the Clock Tower,

The basic building has an area of ​​13 x 4 meters and has a height of 26 meters. The inside consists of several levels with the top level being a pendulum storage area. In 2007, the pendulum was broken by an earthquake, but was immediately replaced by the Bukittinggi government.

On all four sides of the tower there are 4 clocks with a diameter of 80 cm each. The clock was imported from the Netherlands directly through Teluk Bayur port. Please note, the machine on the Clock Tower is made exclusively, that is, only two units in the world. One is used for the Clock Tower, the other is used for the Big Ben clock in London, England. The clock movement, named Brixlion, was made by a German company called Vortmann Relinghausen.

The uniqueness of the Gadang Clock

Behind its construction, it turns out that the Gadang Clock has its own uniqueness, namely the Roman numerals found on the clock. The number four written on the clock deviates from the standard, because it is written IIII, not IV. Therein lies its uniqueness. The four Roman numerals that should be written IV are instead written with the number one in a row of four (IIII). The uniqueness of writing the numbers on the clock leaves a big question mark for everyone who sees it. Is writing the numbers a mistake in the making, or is it an ancient patron for roman numerals? Sponsors Link

There are various versions of the story related to the writing of these Roman numerals circulating among the public, including:

The opinion says that the number IIII on the Gadang Clock refers to the Dutch's anxiety about the symbol IV which stands for "I Victory" which means "I won". The Dutch were afraid that number IV would trigger the spirit of the Indonesian people's struggle for independence.
There is an opinion that believes that the number IIII refers to the number of victims killed as sacrifices in the construction of the clock tower.
Opinion which explains that the reason for using the number IIII is solely due to technical problems. If the number IV is used, then the blacksmith must make 4 sticks of X, 16 sticks of I and 5 sticks of V. The problem was, in those days blacksmiths could only be economical if they made iron in multiples of four. If the number four is written with the symbol IV, then one 3 stems of the letter V will be wasted. Due to these economical reasons, finally the blacksmith made the number four with the symbol IIII instead of IV.
Opinions from other versions say that at first, Roman numbering did vary. In the early days, the number four was indeed written IIII with four I letters. This is evidenced in sundials made before the 19th century, almost all of which used IIII for the number four. Including the Clock Tower, because it was made in the early 1990's, the writing of number four still uses the symbol IIII.
Judging from the various types of explanation above, it is the explanation on the fourth point that makes sense. So, actually the uniqueness that occurs in number four on the Jam Gadang tower is only felt by modern society. Because at this time, the number four in roman is always written IV, not IIII. Then what about the Big Ben tower which is said to be the twin of the Clock Tower? Writing the number four on the Big Ben tower clock uses the symbol IV, not IIII. When referring to the standard of world clockmaking, the clock found on the Big Ben tower in England has violated the hourly convention.