Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha

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Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha, sometimes known as KAR Bosscha or Ru Bosscha (The Hague, 15 May 1865 – Malabar, Indonesia, 26 November 1928) was a planter, philanthropist and administrator of the Malabar Plantation in Bandung, Indonesia.

Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha

Life and work[edit]

K.A.R. Bosscha was the son of renowned Dutch physicist Johannes Bosscha and Paulina Emilia Kerkhoven. After gaining some formal education in engineering at Polytechnical School of Delft, in 1887 came out to Netherlands Indies and stayed with his uncle while working at Sinagar Estate near Cibadak (West Java) that his uncle owned. Work at his uncle's company gave him little satisfaction, thus after 6 months he went to Sambas (Borneo) to join his older brother John Bosscha, a geologist. During this time he worked on gold exploration and mining with his brother until his return to Sinager 1892 now as its administrator.[1] He stayed at Sinagar Estate till 1895 and in 1896 he undertook the management of Malabar Estate near Pangalengan (Bandung) until his death in 1928. Till this day the Malabar Estate plantation is still operational under state own company (PT Perkebunan Nusantara) management.

Little was known about his personal life. He remained unmarried till he died.

K.A.R. Bosscha spoke Malay, Sundanese and Javanese very well. He was even reported to speak Sundanese very fluently. He was dearly loved by the local people, both Sundanese and Javanese; his grave is still visited by local people and flowers are still given to his grave. He loved Java and Java loved him.

a monument at the entrance
an inscription on the monument
the tomb of K.A.R. Bosscha


K.A.R. Bosscha was also a philanthropist and continued his family's traditional interest in science. He most notably participated in the development of the Bosscha Observatory (Bosscha Sterrenwacht) in Lembang near Bandung in 1923.[2] His contribution consists of land that is now used as its location and as the main benefactor till the project completed in 5 years time (1928). He also sponsored the purchase of the telescope itself from Carl Zeiss Jena.[1]

The observatory now belongs to the Department of Astronomy, Bandung Institute of Technology and it is named "Observatorium Bosscha" (Bosscha Observatory). Indonesian prominent astronomers and physicists have once educated and trained there at least once during their early educations.

Bosscha also helped the development of the Cancer Center in Bandung (het Nederlandsch-Indisch Kanker Instituut) and the Technische Hoogeschool te Bandung in 1920[3] now known as Bandung Institute of Technology. He also created an (free of charge) elementary school for his workers children in 1901 known as Vervoloog Malabar, now known as Malabar 4'th Public Elementary School (SD Negeri Malabar 04). While the old (original) building was partially burnt (for unclear reasons, according to local residents), the school now has new modern (brick and cement) buildings. The remaining building now serves as a museum. It is made of wood, with bamboo sheet wall.

Old building (left), new buildings (middle) and library (right)
Library of Malabar Public Elementary School
the remaining of the old building of Malabar Elementary School
description of Malabar elementary school

For his work and contribution to the society, he was awarded honorary citizenship of Bandung. An asteroid (11431 Karelbosscha) was also named after him in 1971.


  1. ^ a b Pyenson, Lewis (1989). Empire of reason: exact sciences in Indonesia, 1840-1940. Empire of Reason. 13. BRILL. p. 194. ISBN 978-90-04-08984-6.
  2. ^ "Bosscha Observatory - History"
  3. ^ "Bandung Institute of Technology - History

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