The ancient architecture of Sungai Penuh’s mosques

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Mosque
The Koto Tuo Holy Mosque, also widely known as the Masjid Kuno Pulau Tengah (“Pulau Tengah Ancient Mosque”). (Source: Freddy Wally)

Jambi, IO – Ramadan is here. As the country with the biggest population of Muslims worldwide, Indonesia overflows with mosques. They have appeared in our country for centuries – not just as places of worship, but also as places of education and socialization. They were the glue that kept our forefathers’ society together. 

Some of Indonesia’s oldest mosques are located in Sumatra, which is the gateway of faith where Islam entered the Archipelago, back in 7th century CE. Quite a few of them remain standing, and we can still enjoy the dignified beauty of their architecture. Two of these are located in the township of Sungai Penuh, Regency of Kerinci, Province of Jambi. 

Being located right in the hilly area of the famous Bukit Barisan, Sungai Penuh has a cool, moody climate. It is located near the Kerinci Seblat National Park, which is a tropical rainforest conservation area under UNESCO protection. The Observer took a look at the two mosques in late February. 

Mosque
A mimbar or dais in the mosque, this wooden stage is where clergies deliver their sermons. It is heavily ornamented with local motifs. (Source: Freddy Wally)

Koto Tuo Holy Mosque

Located in Koto Tuo Village, Pulau Tengah, District of Keliling Danau, Regency of Kerinci, Jambi, it was constructed in 1750. This is the oldest mosque in the Regency, constructed by an ulema of the Mataram Kingdom royal blood called Syaikh Kuat (“The Strong Sheik”). 

It is called the Masjid Keramat or “Holy Mosque”, as it has always survived various disasters that devastated the surrounding regions. During the Dutch occupation of Sumatra, the homes surrounding the mosque were burnt down in 1903 and 1939. Yet the mosque was not touched by the flames in either case. An earthquake in 1942 flattened Sungai Penuh to the ground, but the mosque remained standing.