The historiography of architecture in Southeast Asia usually jumps abruptly from a so-called “vernacular” (or “traditional”) architecture, mostly in wood and perishable materials, to a “colonial” architecture in masonry built by Europeans. However, as a privileged crossroads of Southeast Asia, the island of Java shows from early on, in the early-modern period, unique features such as the disappearance of stilt houses and a gradual shift to constructions in masonry. This last shift occurred through the early participation of Javanese sovereigns in a new trend for masonry architecture, long before the intervention of the first European engineers in the second half of the 19th century. This paper will demonstrate how Javanese rulers competed with foreign polities in pursuit of prestige and power through the creation of new architectural identities in stone. This early participation in a global technology is manifest of Java’s connectedness beyond the colonial.