Indonesia: Jogjakarta

Yogyakarta is the only province in Indonesia still formally governed by a precolonial Sultanate, the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. It's a center of classical Javanese fine arts and culture (batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows). This is a view of Mount Merapi outside our hotel window. It's been active for 10000 years and today is the most active as well as produces more pyroclastic flows than any volcano in the world. We started climbing the 345 steps to the Royal Tombs of Imogiri at the same time as this lady, and by the time we were done and ready to come back down she was just barely getting to the top with her load of 2 banana bunches and 6 bottles of water to sell. We bought all she had, exchanged sentences … [Read more...]

Indonesia: Wayang Kulit

Wayang Kulit (wayang=show, kulit=skin, as in the leather the puppets are made of) is a type of shadow puppet theatre from the Indo-Malay archipelago. Its Javanese Hindu-Buddhist tradition has its origins in India. Hand-crafted leather puppets depict epic stories of the gods in shadow play. This artist was prepping the puppet show, at the Museum Sonobudoyo (Javanese archeology museum) on Jalan Trikora 6 at north alun-alun. The puppets are usually made of buffalo or goat hide and mounted on bamboo sticks. The best puppets are made of young female water buffalo parchment with curing time of almost ten years. A traditional Gamelan orchestra would accompany the story-telling. Their typical repertoire include an overture, travel and battle … [Read more...]

Indonesia: Making Batik

Batik is a resist dye technique with hundreds of years' history in Java. Since I wasn't with K when someone showed him how to batik, here's the general gist as I know it: A natural light-colored cloth is used to make batiks (synthetics or blends won't work). A rough sketch is made on the cloth as in the first photo. Then you paint wax on top of the areas you do not want to dye. This woman uses a tool sort of like a crude fountain(?) pen to take the dye to the areas she's drawn. When the paint has absorbed into the cloth it is allowed to dry, then a hot water bath is used to melt off the wax. Here's the finished product. It's a very thin cloth so it's beautiful framed with light shining from behind, such as daylight or if indoors then a … [Read more...]