top of page

Orangutang, The Men Of The Forest: 500 Rupiah (Indonesia, 1998)-Article

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

This colorful Indonesian banknote represents the 2nd denomination of the Series 6 New Rupiah. The Series 6 was first issued, on 28 December 1992. And represented the first major denominational overhaul of the New Rupiah. Since the introduction of the 1968 Second Series, issued under the Suharto "New Order". Notably the Series 6 added the 20,000 Rupiah denomination. In addition, the series introduced the inclusion of the note's printing date.

The Series 6 was replaced by the current series New Rupiah and was withdrawn in 2 separate phases. High denomination notes (10,000 and 20,000) were first withdrawn on 21 August 2000. Followed by the withdrawal of low denomination notes (100 and 5,000) on 30 November 2006. This lead to the discontinuation of 100 and 500 Rupiah denominations.


This Indonesian banknote depicts an illustration of an endangered Borneo Orangutan, siting within a treetop "nest". This illustration serves as the observe's main art, dominating its right-side. At the reverse's center is an unprinted watermark area. Which will be later explored in further detail. (SEE: Watermark)

Above and below the watermark area is Indonesian text. The upper text states the note's issuing body, "Bank Indonesia" (Bank of Indonesia). While the lower text states the note's value, "Lima Ratus Rupiah (Five Hundred Rupiah). The note's reverse lists its "500" Rupiah value twice. Overprinted once on the upper-left and lower-right corners.

The upper-left "500" is integrated into a unique "butterfly" guilloché pattern. While the lower-right "500" rests on a "leaf guilloché, which extends into a banner. The banner ends in a Bank of Indonesia logo at its end. Below the banner is the note's printer "Perum Percetakan Uang Republik Indonesia" and print date "1998". These is an Indonesian Coat of Arms at the upper-right corner.

The right-side of the observe is a multi-color underprint. The underprint is dominated by a stylized "flower" shape, decorations and embellishments surround it. Overprinted on it is the date of authority, "Direksi 1992" (Directive 1992), followed by bank authority signatures. The being the signature of "GUBERNUR" (Govenor) Adrianus Mooy, followed by DIREKTUR (Director) Sujitno Siswowidagdo.


The reverse features an illustration of a "Rumah Adat Kalimantan Timur", translated as "traditional East Kalimantan house". Commonly know "Malay houses" or "stage houses". Distinct variations of these traditional homes, can been seen in the various islands, of the Indonesian archipelago. Their stilts allow the home to remain cool, by allowing air flow underneath. While providing protection from flooding and tiger attacks.

At the reverse's center is an unprinted watermark area. The watermark features a portrait of Indonesian nationalist Oemar Said Tjokroaminoto, co-founder of Sarekat Dagang Islam. Which was an East Java based organization, centered on Indonesian self-determination, from the Dutch colonial government. Sarekat Dagang Islam is regarded as the first large-scale nationalist organization in Indonesia.

Above and below the watermark area is Indonesian text. The upper text states the note's issuing body, "Bank Indonesia" (Bank of Indonesia). While the lower text states the note's value, "Lima Ratus Rupiah (Five Hundred Rupiah). To the left is a waving "banner", threating counterfeiters with imprisonment. (full translation below)

Banner Translation


The note's reverse lists its "500" Rupiah value twice. Overprinted once on the upper-left and lower-right corners. The upper-left "500" is integrated into a guilloché pattern, which extends into a ornate border. Running above the text "Bank Indonesia" is a braided pattern. Followed an intermeshed pattern of rippling semi-circles. Which is bookmarked a curve are the end of the note's artwork.

The right-side of the reverse a multi-color underprint, similar to the observe. The underprint is dominated by a stylized "leaf" shape, decorations and embellishments surround it. The underprint extends to the upper-right corner, running along the upper border. A second underprint pattern is joined to the upper underprint, by a series of braided lines. this lower pattern features unique abstract pattern on guilloché and extends into a border.

The reverse features twin serial numbers, "QEC411312". Located near the lower left and upper right corners. As the serial number is overprinted, it act as a minor anti-counterfeiter countermeasure. Amateur counterfeiters will often create single print copies, rather then layered printing. In addition to relying on a single master copy, leading to repeat serial numbers.

The Men Of The Forest

The name Orangutan is derived from the Malay words for "man" (orang) and "forest" (hutan). Orangutans are divided into 3 sub-species, the Bornean Orangutan (depicted above), the Sumatran Orangutan, and the recently identified (2017) Tapanuli Orangutan. Tapanuli Orangutan also inhabit the island of Sumatra, although have smaller heads and wider faces.

In general all Orangutan feature coarse orange-red hair and gray-black skin. Males and significantly larger than females. The average adult male stands at 137 cm (4 ft 6 in) tall and weigh 75 kg (165 lb). While the average female stands at 115 cm (3 ft 9 in) tall and roughly weighs 37 kg (82 lb). Other than size, males can be identified by their large cheek pads and beards.

Unlike other apes, Orangutans live almost entirely in amongst the forest canopy. It's currently believe that Tapanuli Orangutans live exclusively in the trees. As they have yet to be seen at ground level, in over 3,000 hours of observation. This may be due the sub-species adapting to avoid Sumatran Tigers, which live within their range. While Bornean Orangutans can be more often seen on the forest floor, due to the lack of tigers.

To better live amongst the trees, Orangutans have evolved long fingers and short powerful thumbs. The long fingers bring thin branches toward their palms. While their thumbs provide a secure grip, allowing to take a one-handed suspended grip. This ability came at the expense of their ability to knuckle-walk, as most great apes. Forcing them to side shuffle on their hands and feet.

The diet of Orangutans is composed mostly of fruit, which is supplemented with leaves, bark, and honey. They have a preference for fruits with soft pulp and arillus (seeds with a pulpy exterior). Interestedly, Orangutans may be the seed disperser of St. Ignatius Bean. A type of climbing vine, which produces yellow pear-like fruit.

It's almond-like seeds contain poisonous strychnine. Giving the impression Orangutans have learned a natural method to counter-act the poison. As some populations have been observed practicing geophagia. The act of intentionally eating soil rich in certain minerals, for health reasons. Orangutans are known to eat kaolin-rich clay to counter toxic tannins, from certain plants within their regular diet.

Such acts of intelligence is not unusual for Orangutans. As they are renowned for their ability to create and improvise tools. Not only to aid in collecting food, but for some unusual acts. Such as captive Orangutans picking locks, to escape cages. Or tapping sticks to communicate and using rolled leaves to amplify noises. The later being a method to give the appearance of a lager animal, to scare potential predators. They have been observed attempting to imitating human speech.

Orangutans are also known to create tree-top "nests", for day and night use. The practice to learned by young Orangutans from their mother. By age 3 young Orangutans become capable of making their own nest. Nests are created by braiding branches into a "mattress", built on a preferred tree. They can be customized to a individual Orangutan's likeness and need. Adding large loose leaves "blankets" on cool nights and a overhead cover "roof", during hot days.

While usually solitary by nature, although female Orangutans can be social. Male Orangutans (particularly Bornean Orangutans) are solitary, with exception of finding and living with their mates. Female Orangutans may interact with other females with overlapping home ranges. Wild Orangutans are known live an average of 30 years and have a relatively slow maturity rate.

Young Orangutans live with their mother, until age 11 (sub-adulthood). After which the sub-adult reach a social transient phase. In which, traveling groups of sub-adults will gather at large trees, with abundant fruit. The abundance of fruit leads to lower competition and greater opportunity for social interaction.

As a general rule females tend to gather closer to their mothers, while males venture further away. Sub-adult males can be identified by their lack of cheek pads. At age 15, Orangutans become full adults capable of reproduction. Although this can be occasionally delayed, delayed males will continue to lack check pads. Orangutans females reproduce intervals of 6-9 years, the longest period for great apes. Producing a single young after 9 months, although twins are born on rare occasions.

Size Comparison

Series 6 New Rupiah Gallery

(Note: Gallery features examples from current database)

Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 140 x 68 mm or 5.51 x 2.68 in, smaller than a standard US Dollar.

  • The preferable method to preserve these notes are side opening sleeves, cut to size.

  • Perum Peruri was established on 15 September 1971, serving both printer and mint roles.

  • Perum Peruri is short for, "Money Printing of the Republic of Indonesia Public Enterprise".

  • Perum Peruri was created, after a state merger of Perjetakan Kebajoran with Artha Yasa.

  • Artha Yasa served as the Indonesian state mint and Perjetakan Kebajoran as state printer.

  • The Perjetakan Kebajoran, also known as Perkeba, was established with Dutch assistance.

  • Since 2007, Perum Peruri has been the official printer of the Nepalese Rupee.

22 views0 comments
bottom of page