Java’s last harem

Love nest behind high walls

30 min. 2004 DVD / VHS german
Traditionally closed off to the outside world, the last harem in Java remains a secret world, inaccessible to locals and foreigners alike. Defying decades of convention reporter Inge Altemeier charmed her way into the palace of 82-year old king Paekuboewe XII. Altemeier offers an exclusive insight into the life of a modern day harem. Her film tells the story of 53-year old Sri, the king’s favourite concubine, who lives with 50 other women in the seclusion of the harem. Only the king is allowed to visit these women. His majesty has six wives, 19 concubines and several lovers, some of whom have lived in his harem for many years having merely had the pleasure of serving the king for a single night. Reporter Inge Altemeier finds out from kitchen staff that, despite his old age, the king is still very virile thanks to the power of traditional Javanese aphrodisiacs. The potent regent has fathered no less than 52 children. 12 sons are fighting over his succession. Whether one of them will continue the tradition of the harem is uncertain. Today already the monarch is running out of money to maintain the huge palace and less and less young Javanese women are willing to spend their lives locked behind the walls of the harem.