I just got back from two weeks of gamelan tour in central Java. With that in mind, I suppose something to the extent of this picture was inevitable.
On the left is Yogyakarta (Jogja) and on the right is Surakarta (Solo). These two cities are the cultural centers of central Java, but they’re quite different from each other despite this shared role. Jogja’s a lot more chaotic and all over the place in terms of its attractions and activities, while Solo is calmer and more focused on classical arts in particular.
In this picture, they’re all dressed up for a wayang kulit performance - that’s shadow puppet theater, accompanied by gamelan music. (This is what we did on our tour, in fact.) The thing in the middle is called a gunungan, which most basically sets the scene. Jogja is the dhalang - the master of the show, who controls the puppets, their voices, the story, and the musical cues. Solo is the pesindhen - the featured female vocalist, who is basically just as big of a star as the dhalang.
(A brief note about their batik - my headcanon is that, even in the era when this particular pattern was forbidden for everyone other than people associated with the palace, the cities themselves were still allowed to wear it. Yes, their respective sultans might’ve been ruling over them as people, but they also would’ve been serving them as cities. I also figure that a region with animistic beliefs in general would take particular note of their city personifications walking around.)
It’s a good thing these are not their everyday outfits, because I don’t think I could stand to draw this much detail regularly. Holy crap.