The Mystery of The “Lion Building” in Surabaya – Sunday morning is a more relaxed time to enjoy the city streets. The traffic is not too congested by vehicles. If you want to make documentation is also easier. But maybe not much information is obtained, because it’s quiet.
It doesn’t matter, today, technological advances make it easier. Primary information can actually be retrieved later. Sometimes it’s just an amplifier. That may be a revolution of ideas in making news.
The city center of Surabaya during the Dutch East Indies was in the Red Bridge area. Definitely know this location. There is also a song that made him famous. Moreover, the incident of 10 November 1945. The assassination of Brigadier General Aubertin Walter Sothern (A.W.S.) Mallaby on 30 October of the same year, also in the area around here.
Not far from the historic Bridge, only a few tens of meters of steps, there is an ancient building with 2-3 floors which is quite artsy. At the main entrance there are two statues of lions that seem to be “guardians”. Hence, the plural term pinned is “The Lion Building”.
Unfortunately, the building, which is located at Jalan Jembatan Merah Number 19-23 (in plaque number 15 ) seems to be unkempt when viewed from the outside. Well, what makes ‘trenyuh’ (pity, pity, dear) is the stretch of banners that signify that the building, which is said to be 120 years old, will soon be sold. Even though its status is BCB (a cultural heritage building) since 1998.
Ah, I don’t feel willing if this historic building gets out of hand and goes into the wrong hands, It might be destroyed too, like so many things have happened. As actively voiced by the community movement for history, city architecture, which wants the City Government to save it. Of course, by buying it, and being able to use it as a museum or whatever it’s called.
The Singa Building has changed its name and designation several times. That said, the construction period began in 1901.
Previously, this building was the “Office of the General Company for Life Insurance and Old Age Benefits” (Algemeene Maatschappij van Levensverzekering en Lijfrente). In his time, he became the largest life insurance company in the Netherlands. It was officially founded in 1880, but went out of business in 1921. Circulating historical sources state that when it was still the Algemeene building, at the top of the building there was a writing board indicating that the building was once occupied by PT. Aperdi Java Maluku. So, for the local community, it is also called the Aperdi Building.
The building, which also has ceramic paintings at the top, was built by an architect named Hendrik Petrus Berlage (1856-1934). In the Netherlands itself, he is considered the Father of Modern Architecture. And his work also inspired the world of architecture in Europe and the world in general. The design of the building he designed is Art Nouveau, with a red brick arch model as a characteristic. As for the laying of the first stone of the insurance company was carried out on July 21, 1901 by John von Hemert.
The two lion statues that are the hallmarks of this building are said to have been made by the sculptor J. Mendes Da Costa. Well, if you look at it at a glance, it looks the same. However, they are actually a couple. The male lion is on the south side (right). While the lioness on the north side (left).
Why is this lion used as a marker? It is said that this was also influenced by “archeological discoveries in Egypt” at that time. Then this also gave rise to a new exoticism in Europe. Not only in terms of knowledge, but also ancient Egyptian culture that appears in museums in Europe. The purpose of providing a lion statue and ceramic paintings that decorate the building respectively show elements from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Symbolizes eternity. Like an implied message that the customer’s money will be safe forever in this company.
Rich Color History
Looking up at the cross-section of the facade, it is clear that the ceramic embellishments are illustrated, even though they have been slightly faded by dust. Well, this is what makes it different again, namely the very famous artist at that time, Jan Toorop. This painting also has a special philosophy in the company that ordered it.
Jan Toorop paints a Javanese king sitting in the center with his arms and wings outstretched. There is a line on the chest that forms the letter A (perhaps Algameene’s initials). To his right was a woman dressed in European style holding a blonde baby.
While on the left, there is a picture of a woman wearing a bun in Javanese traditional clothes. He was also seen holding a baby. The difference is, the baby has black hair. The message to be conveyed may be about equality between nations. Both Indonesians and Europeans or other nationalities receive the same treatment.
Right in front of the Lion Building – if you position yourself from the direction of the building – you can clearly see a large river that used to be the lifeblood of transportation. Algemeene’s office in Surabaya follows the traditional Dutch concept. A row of buildings overlooking the canal, with a beautiful facade, as representative of the status of the owner.