Tag Archives: Javanese

LEGEND OF RATU KIDUL – QUEEN OF THE SOUTHERN SEA OF JAVA

Ratu_Kidul

In the last days I finally found some time to study more about Ratu Kidul, the queen of the Southern Sea of Java. A legend from Indonesia that fascinates me already for over years. Because it’s such a known and ancient legend and there’s many different stories going around about her in Indonesia, I decided to stick to the stories and the place that’s the most familiar to me.

5 years ago I heard about this old mysterious story for the first time during my visit to Parang Tritis, an area on the southern coast of Java in the Bantul Regency, about 30 km south of Yogyakarta. When I arrived at the Hotel Queen of the South – Puri Ratu Kidul for some drinks, we decided to take the big climb down the cliff to walk on the beach.

Before I tried to climb down my friends directly stopped me and checked me if I was not accidentally wearing any green or blue clothing. Kinda surprised I asked them, if that would be a problem? They told me ‘Because otherwise the Queen of the South Sea will get angry and will drag you into the sea and make you serve like her slave!‘ Wow, that kinda shocked me and I instantly wanted to know more about this mysterious lady!

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Kanjeng Ratu Kidul 

She is a legendary Indonesian female spirit or deity, known as the Queen of the Southern Sea of Java (Indian Ocean or Samudra Kidul south of Java island) in Javanese and Sundanese mythology. The origin of these stories is hard to find but could go back to around the year 1300, more then 700 years ago.

She goes under many names which reflect the diverse stories of her origin in a lot of sagas, legends, myths and traditional folklore. Other names include, Nyai Roro Kidul, Ratu Laut SelatanGusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, Kanjeng Ratu Ayu Kencono Sari etc. In this post I stick to the name that I know out of my own experience, Ratu Kidul. 

If she has to be seen as a goddess or more as a ghost depends a bit on religious beliefs. For example in the Islamic society of Indonesia, she’s more seen as a ghost who is immortal. And in Bali they more see her as an appearance of Durga, so in their eyes, she is seen as a goddess. And according to Javanese beliefs, she is also the mythical spiritual consort and protector of the Sultans of Mataram and Yogyakarta, beginning with Senopati and continuing to the present day.

She is often illustrated as a mermaid with a tail as well the lower part of the body of a snake or a fish. They say she claimed to take the soul of any who she wished for. And the local people believe that the Queen often claims lives of fishermen or visitors that bathe on the beach and that she usually prefers handsome young men. Anybody who respects her and brings her offerings she will protect.

 

Parangtritis Beach  & Hotel Queen of the South

Many Javanese people believe that Parang Tritis Beach is the gate of Ratu Kidul’s magical kingdom.

On top of the cliff at the beach, there’s a beautiful 5 star hotel which is named after the Ratu Kidul and which even holds a bungalow, reserved especially for her! You can find the bungalow 033 in the back of the garden, from the porch in the front you directly look at the sea. In the living / dining room there’s a bed with green sheets, under the bed are green sandals. In the corner of the bed, a pot with sand to burn incense sticks. And in front of the bed a dressings table with mirrors and a lot of make up. So Ratu Kidul and one of her lovers could spend the night here.

Room_Ratu_KidulPhoto by an unknown visitor.

 

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Note; I never visited this bungalow myself and I’m not 100% sure if it’s still there due to a big earth quake around 2008 when the hotel was completely destroyed. Last time when I was there (October, 2014) the hotel was completely rebuild and looking beautiful again, but I’m not sure if the bungalow is still there. What I know is that the bungalow is not always open for public, you have to request it if you want to see it (just like the other rooms reserved for Ratu Kidul in Indonesia, like the one in Hotel Samudra at Pelabuhan Ratu) Probably the queen preferred to spend more time at Parang Kusomo at the beach of Parang Tritis. A walled space with 2 stone blocks as thrones. One for the Sultan & one for Ratu Kidul. In that holy place, offerings and prayers are made every day.

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Photo’s made by our friend, Joel Kiel, during our trip to Parang Tritis in October, 2014. 

 

Parang Tritis is just a place that I keep coming back to, where I really love to be and make long walks on the beach. Still a very calm, non-touristic mystical place. I can’t wait to return!

– Lielo

 

 

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KRIS / KERIS ON LEG

Keris

The Kris or Keris is a Javanese asymmetrical dagger most strongly associated with the culture of Indonesia or Javanese culture. In Indonesia, people believe that the Krises have magical powers.

The earliest Krises known were made around 1360 AD and most probably spread from the island of throughout Southeast Asia. Krises have been produced in many different places in Indonesia for centuries, but the Kris is mostly used, worshiped and seen in ceremonies in Central Java (besides the regular use in ceremonies of Krises in Bali).  As the result, in Indonesia Krises are commonly associated with the Javanese culture, although other ethnicities such as Balinese, Sundanese, Madurese, Banjar and Malay people are also very familiar with the weapon as part of their culture. The Kris is most known for its distinctive wavy blade, although many have straight blades as well. A Kris can be divided into three parts: bilah (blade), hulu (hilt), and warangka (sheath). These parts of the Kris are often carved into extreme detail and made from various materials like metal, precious or rare types of wood, gold or ivory. They are art objects on their own. Some blades can be made in a relatively short time, while some weapons take years to complete.

The dhapur (the form and design of the blade, has around 150 variants), the pamor (the pattern of metal alloy decoration on the blade, has around 60 variants), and tangguh is referring to the age and origin of a Kris. Depending on the quality and historical value of the Kris, the value in money can go up to thousands of dollars or more. Both used a weapon and as a spiritual object, Krises are often considered to possess magical powers, with some blades seen as holders for good luck and others holding the bad. Krises are also often used for display, as talismans with magical powers, weapons, as extra equipment for court soldiers, an accessory for a ceremonial dress, an indicator of social status, and as a symbol of heroism, etc.

Krises are made by a Kris blacksmith called, empu. Before the empu starts making the Kris, he will first have a conversation with the client to make sure the Kris will be adapted to the exact wishes of the future owner. Empu are highly respected craftsmen with additional knowledge in literature, history, the occult, etc. By performing specific rituals before, during and after the process of forging the Kris, it will give the Kris his energetic load. Because a Kris is always made specifically for one person, it could be that a Kris of someone else is not ‘a good match’ for you. That doesn’t mean the Kris is ‘bad or wrong’, but it doesn’t fit the person. Krises need to be washed and ‘reloaded’ every once in a while, this comes with a very complex and sometimes even dangerous ritual of washing, drying and oil. Dangerous because some people try to use Arsenic, to make the pamor show up better. After washing the Kris, incense is being used to dry the blade and after that treated with oil. Krises are always highly cherished and taken care of to preserve their magical powers. 

Until the 1990s, Kris-making activities in Java had almost come to a standstill due to economic difficulties and changing socio-cultural values. Over the past three decades, Krises have lost their prominent social and spiritual meaning in society. Only a handful active and respected empus still produce high quality Krises in the traditional way but their number is dramatically decreasing and it’s getting more difficult to find them.

– Ade Itameda

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BARONG BALI / NIGEL DE JONG

Ade

There’s one thing that we can never say no to and those are these kind of beautiful Indonesian artifacts! Whenever we find a nice Javanese / Balinese mask in the thrift store or find a beautiful Barong statue at a Pasar Malam we háve to take them home. Our little house is slowly turning into an Indonesian museum, but it’s just so much fun to adopt these beautiful items! Above here in the photo you can see on the left, Boma, a Balinese protector/beast. The story tells that once he was a very powerful and destructive earth demon. In the ancient story, Mahabarata, Boma became a great champion and a defender against evil. You can find him above  most doorways, and above the entrance of temples and palaces in Southern Bali, mostly decorated with fresh flowers put behind his ears. His hands spread out to scare off the negative spirits. He’s regarded as being very strong and being able to overcome obstacles physical and mystical. In South Bali, Boma is always depicted with three curls of rock ornaments on top of his head and a bow of flowers. The other mask you see on the right is a Balinese dragon (Naga) wall mask and only used as decoration, to find the exact meaning of this mask is a bit more difficult. He’s part of the many dragon characters found in Bali. In the great story Mahabharata, Nagas are tending towards the negative. They call them “persecutors of all creatures” and tells us “the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of strength, and ever bent on biting other creatures”. But at some points within the story, Nagas are important players, frequently no more evil nor deceitful than the other characters in the story and sometimes on the side of good. They mostly show Nagas as having a mix of human and serpent-like habits.

Barong in Bali

It is unclear where the Barong is originated, however it is generally accepted that a barong is a physical manifestation of a protective spirit which guards people from evil influences. In Bali, it dates back to ancient, pre-Hindu times when animism was the most popular form of belief. It is believed that a Barong is powerful enough to guard an entire village with the main task of driving away the demons known in Balinese as Bhuta-kala. Barong come in many different shapes and sizes. Most are representations of animals such as lion-tigers (barong ket), elephants (barong gajah), tigers (barong macan), pigs (barong bangkal), barong sai (Chinese lions), barong buntut (solo/tailless barong), ravens (barong guak), goats (barong kambing), bulls (barong lembu), horses (barong jaran), or moose (barong rusa). Rare Barong are: gaint human puppets called Barong Landung (Landung means tall in Balinese), giant characters called Barong dawang-dawang  or Barong brutuk (in Trunyan). Barong ket are the most commonly seen Barong in ceremonies and tourist performances throughout Bali. Their dance is also the most developed. Most Barong are danced by two dancers, one at the front head piece, the other at the back tail section, giving the creature four feet. The ones with two feet such as Barong tunggal, Barong bangkal and Barong landung are all danced by one single dancer. Barong are decorated with hair or feathers depending on what village they come from. The magical power of the barong is said to be concentrated in its beard, which is customarily made from human hair. The belief in its magical power is so strong that if a village is struck by an epidemic, a priest is ordered to soak the beard in a glass of clean water to make holy water. This holy water is used to bring the village out of the epidemic. For certain ceremonies, many barong will be gathered together to be purified. There is even a temple in Bualu, Nusa Dua named Barong-barong Temple. Barong are magically very special to most Balinese and their powers are taken very seriously.

And after a successful football match last Friday between  Spain vs. The Netherlands we received a nice promotional photo of Nigel de Jong with his healed tattoos by Ade. Follow Nigel on Instagram for more snapshots out of his everyday life! http://www.instragram.com/ndjofficial

Good luck against Australia on Wednesday guys!

– Lielo & Ade Itameda

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BACK IN HOLLAND + CIREBON MASK

Cirebon_Mask

We’re back in Holland! Still a bit jet-lagged but at least we took the sun with us!

Last week Ade started working again and his first customer requested to do a traditional Cirebon dancing-mask. Masks are used during important dancing rituals in Indonesia for over a thousand years. Sometimes the mask dance can be performed by solo dancers, or it can also be performed by several people. Masks are used to create more than the character in a drama. Graceful hand and body movements, and accompaniment by the music of a Gamelan, are hallmarks of Javanese mask dance. The dance is performed on special occasions for local officials, or for other traditional celebrations. The Topeng, is a performance which enacts stories from the times of the old Balinese and Javanese kingdoms and creates a link with the ancestor world. The three types of masks used in these dramas are; humans, animals, and demons.The powerful lines of a mask catch the light with a greater impact than that of a human face alone, and the stability of the mask’s features has an intensity stronger than that of a human expression. The masks are almost always carved from wood, mask makers combine different materials like boar’s teeth, horsehair, jewels, gold leaf, Chinese coins, buffalo hide, rabbit pelts, and mirrors. The glossy effect is created by endless sanding and at least 40 coats of paint.

Underneath here you can see a small video of a traditional Cirebon mask dance:

 

 

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THE MYSTERY OF THE CHICKEN CHURCH

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Last week Ade and me made a trip to Yogjakarta, with actually one mission. Find the Chicken Church!

First I was not sure about making this post because something in me didn’t want to reveal the truth about this mysterious building. But because there’s so less information about this church on the internet, I had to share the true story.

A couple of months ago Ade read a status update of a friend on Facebook talking about a mysterious building called the Chicken Church located somewhere on the top of a mountain close to the famous temple the Borobudur in Magelang. I was instantly fascinated and I directly knew ‘We need to go there’. After checking around on the internet and Google earth (I was convinced the church was ‘photo-shopped’ into the map), I realized there was no one who could exactly explain anything about the history or function of the building, neither his age or exact location. I only knew this was certainly not a tourist attraction. I found a blog of someone in Indonesia who visited the church and gave a small explanation about how to go there. We decided to rent a car and see how close we could come.

We followed the given description and found a small gang leading to a even smaller road into a village. After wandering around for a while we realized we needed some help and decided to ask some locals. Easier said then done, because most people who live in small villages like that are elderly people. They live so isolated that they rarely have any visitors. Besides that they are always very happy to help you, but you have to accept and answer fully in Javanese (Very different from Bahasa), mostly in the style of ‘Aaaahhh yes! Here a little bit to the left… And then a little bit up the hill… And then you have to ask someone again…‘ You can imagine that those are not the most clear descriptions, but with a little bit of fantasy you can guess where you have to go. At the end of the road before we would really drive into the middle of nowhere we found a small house. We decided to ask the people if they could tell us the road to the church. They told us we only had to walk up hill for around 10-20 minutes and we would find the church ourselves. Parked the car and started walking. After crossing a very scary bamboo bridge and struggling for half an hour through the jungle we almost wanted to give up, until suddenly in front of us the head of the chicken appeared. I can tell you, it was the most surreal thing I ever saw. A 30 meter long, building in the shape of a chicken. Sadly enough we saw that the building was in a poor shape. The paint was peeled of the walls and the nice stone ornamental windows on the side of the church we’re damaged. The main structure of the church was still ok.

But the panoramic view was unbelievable. The weird thing is that your seeing something so great and that you want to share it, but that you are the only two people there. From the back of the church you could look into the auditorium of the church, that was empty beside some big white pillars. Because there was some sort of hole on the left side of the church, we realized that there had to be a whole floor underneath it. We decided not to enter the building because it simply looked to unsafe. In the ceiling of the church there was a big cross shaped ‘window’. After a while we decided we had to head back to the car before it would turn dark.

When we arrived in the hotel, I could’t get the church out of my head. Because there was such little information available, I needed to know more. The people in the village, told us it was owned by some Chinese business man who wanted to turn it into a hotel or that it served as a Christian Church, no clear explanations.

I decided to try to find any information on the internet and after being lead from one website to another I found that the church was also known as ‘Banyak Angkrem‘, which leaded me to a blog of a guy who was asking himself the same question as me ‘What is this place?‘.

The church turned out to be a dove instead of a chicken. His blog leaded me to an email conversation between a girl and a man who turned out to be the owner and builder of this strange church named Daniel Alamsjah. Finally some answers on all my questions!

Daniel was married to one of the woman in the nearby village in the 90’s, the story goes that one day in 1988 Daniel got a vision of God. God told him that he had to build a church on a hill in the shape of a dove. A place to unite Christians from all around the world. Every day God spoke to him in this vision . Until one day he decided to visit his mother in law who was living in a small village on the foot of the hill Menoreh, called Gombong. Daniel had a strong feeling that he needed to climb this hill, when he arrived on the top of the hill he decided to pray. ‘Was this the hill he saw in his visions?‘ He realized that he would never have enough money to buy this ground and build the church of his vision. He prayed and he prayed for days on top of the hill until he knew that God would help him no matter what. Within 6 months he managed to own 2,5 hectare of the ground on top of the hill and in 1994 he finally started building on his dream project. Due to the economic crisis in Indonesia that time, he run out of money and the sponsors who worked with him on this project him lost interest. In the time that the project came to an end he completed 70% of the church. Until today Daniel still believes that one day he will realize his dream project with the help of God.

What seemed to be a house of some mysterious, occult, society turned out to be a very ambitious, religious project of a man who got a vision of God.

Later I found some information on the internet that in the early days this building, in that time called Bukit Merpati, also served as a rehab clinic for drugs users. In the end, after finding out the true story it didn’t actually change anything about my opinion how surreal and somehow creepy this place was. Certainly something worth visiting when you’re around!


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Underneath here you can find a video impression of the church.

 

 

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INDONESIAN ROOTS

First of all: Happy new year! We hope 2013 will be a great, healthy and creative year for all of you!

Recently we had some customers coming in who wanted to have a designs done which are resembling  their Indonesian roots. Some of them have Indonesian fathers, mothers, grandmothers, aunties or other family members. And even in some cases we have people contacting us who don’t have a connection with Indonesia because of their family but just because they have a particular interest in the culture, history or traditions. It’s always great to hear the stories and reasons about why someone wants to get a specific design tattooed. In this way we can keep ancient symbols and images alive and pass it on to the next generations.

 

Javanese Mask.

Javanese Mask.

Hanacaraka/Aksara Jawa. Traditional Javanese writing.

Hanacaraka/Aksara Jawa. Traditional Javanese writing.

 

Based on the female Javanese wayang shadow puppet called Shinta.

Based on the female Javanese wayang shadow puppet called Shinta.

Based on Garuda mask from Bali, Indonesia.

Based on Garuda mask from Bali, Indonesia.

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TATTOOS ADE

Aksara jawa lettering and flower inspired by batik ornaments

Aksara jawa:

The earliest known writing in Javanese dates from the 4th Century AD, at which time Javanese was written with the Pallava alphabet. By the 10th Century, the Kawi alphabet, which developed from Pallava, had a distinct Javanese form.

By the 17th Century, the Javanese alphabet, also known as tjarakan or carakan, had developed into its current form. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia between 1942 and 1945, the alphabet was prohibited.

For a period from the 15th Century onwards, Javanese was also written with a version of the Arabic alphabet, called pégon or gundil.

Since the Dutch introduced the Latin alphabet to Indonesia in the 19th Century, the Javanese alphabet has gradually been supplanted. Today it is used almost exclusively by scholars and for decoration. Those who can read and write it are held in high esteem.

  • Javanese is a syllabic alphabet – each letter has an inherent vowel /a/. Other vowels can be indicated using a variety of diacritics which appear above, below, in front of or after the main letter.
  • Each consonants has two forms: the aksara form is used at the beginning of a syllable, while the pasangan form, which usually appears below the aksara form, is used for the second consonant of a consonant cluster and mutes the vowel of the aksara.
  • There are a number of special letters called aksara murda or aksara gedhe (great or important letters) which are used for honorific purposes, such as to write the names of respected people.
  • The order of the consonants makes the following saying, “Hana caraka, data sawala padha jayanya, maga bathanga” which means “There were (two) emissaries, they began to fight, their valor was equal, they both fell dead”

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GARUDA

Inspired from batik pattern Garuda.

Gurda derived from the word Garuda. As known, the garuda is a large bird. In view of the Java community, an garuda has a position very important. Gurda motif is also inseparable from the beliefs of the past. Garuda is the mount Batara Vishnu. This god is known as the Sun God. Because the eagle to ride Batara Vishnu, the Garuda is also used as a symbol of life as well as a symbol of virility.

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WAYANG

Cover up of old tattoo.

Wayang is a Javanese word for theatre (literally “shadow”). When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Performances of shadow puppet theatre are accompanied by gamelan in Java.

Wayang kulit, shadow puppets prevalent in Java and Bali in Indonesia, are without a doubt the best known of the Indonesian wayang. Kulit means skin, and refers to the leather construction of the puppets that are carefully chiselled with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods.

The stories are usually drawn from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Serat Menak.

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NEW T-SHIRTS!

 

Mask

Design by Ade Itameda.

Inspired by Javanese masks, used during traditional dances. Underneath the mask there’s 2 keris. Keris are, both a weapon and spiritual object, keris are often considered to have an essence or presence, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad. Salam Budaya means ‘Greeting Culture’.

Printed in a matte, detailed print,
on a black, made of 100% cotton, high-quality t-shirt.

Available in size M, L, XL, XXL.

Model is wearing L.

25,- euro (excl. shipping costs).

 

Batik Flower

Design by Ade Itameda.

Based on flowers used in the traditional, Batik fabrics from Indonesia. In the middle there’s the AUM symbol surrounded by a Bali flower, often used in holy ceremonies. Salam Budaya means ‘Greeting Culture’.

Printed in a matte, detailed print,
on a black, made of 100% cotton, high-quality t-shirt.
Special hand-cut model, with cute short sleeves. Low feminine neck. Long fit.

Available in size S, M, L, and XL.

Model is wearing M.

25,- euro (excl. shipping costs).

You can send your order to: thisis369@gmail.com
Please include in your email the preferred size, name, and address.

(We’re shipping to every country, it depends on the country what the sending costs will be).

We will send you information about payment and the shipping costs for your order.

We would like to keep our items exclusive and limited.
There are only 24 t-shirts printed with this design! 

So be quick, and place your order!

Machine wash cold. Wash dark colors separately. Use non-chlorine bleach only if needed. Tumble dry low. Do not iron decoration. Do not dry clean if decorated. The t-shirts are made of 100% cotton so expect some shrinkage. To lessen this, try hang drying your t-shirts.

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