Mr. Agus ‘Tahu’


I have friend from Poland who hate to eat ‘Tahu’. So, during his visiting to IndonesiMr. Agus Tahu - (c) Photo by Jaceka all mostly he did when buying something food or snack at ‘warung’ (specially Indonesian named for small shop sell foods or beverages)  about asking if their any ‘tahu’ ingredient on the foods they sell.  Because, eating about vegetables soup, Gado-gado, soto or ells, mostly ‘contaminated’ with tahu. Mostly Indonesian people are like to eat ‘Tahu’ from fried tahu, boiled tahu with sweet-spices inside, fried chips tahu, until pieces a tahu as many of foods ingredient.

However, I try to explain to my friend who hate tahu if it have good vitamins and haminerals. It made by the white soybean even the issues of how it produced is bit of nasty. Then finally, my friend who hate tahu witness it himself at the Mr. Agus Tahu’s home ‘tahu’ production.

Mr Agus ‘Tahu’ is Javanese who had been living in district Tangkiling, Palangkaraya, Middle Kalimantan for about 4 years already since he had decide to separate from his parent living in Makasar. His Father also Tahu Production as father of his father did too. So, the ‘secret’ ingredients of Tahu production seem heritages from Agus Tahu ancestor. There was a moment when Agus Tahu father got ‘separately’ then Agus Tahu decide to live standalone. He move to Borneo A.K.A Kalimantan with his wife and open Tahu production  too.

Recently, Agus Tahu worked with two of his crew. Preparing from selected ‘beans’ until forming tahu to cubes. In his Tahu house production he already have chopping machine and made by himself refined machine with a fire-wood fuel.

street contemporary dance named jathilan


Photo (c) by Jacek Szczepanek

It was almost 15 years ago when I was a child to see Jathilan performance at my kampoong. It was almost 15 years so, that Jathilan still pretty similar, a simple music instrument from piece of gamelan which are Kempol, Bonang and Gendang. This instrument and dance seem to be quite old traditional dancer as older as the Javanese culture it self.  Running through a struggle circumstances of  many epoch alteration from the past until this modern era.

Kempol is part of Gamelan instument from Javanese made of metal brass or iron shape as cupola and hit by hammer made of wood. Beside, ‘Bonang’ is another part of Gamelan almost similar with ‘Kempol’ but more 2 times bigger. So the two of them will hit simultaneously as the rhythm of the Jatilan dancer who will follow the tempo.


Then with the sudden,  smashing of the ‘kendang’ sorounding all the environment  with the beat sound likely tribal ceremonial scene. The dancer of the Jatilan dressed with costume made of surjan, batik, shawl, head bandage, bare foot, black short pants and black long curly hair wig. Their face masked with red and black color figuring such a angry  face. Some of them put a wooden mask, red color, ugly face, with two big black eyes and protrude teeth. Some of them tied a bracelet of small bell on their right foot, so their the sound of noisy bell will out as well as their step jerking the ground. The complete property is ‘jaran kepang’, a simbolic horse made by bamboo. Then this jaran kepang would be ride by some of the dancer likely brave knight. Holding a big whip that will hit at the ground creating a hard sound blast in the air.

Photo (c) by Jacek Szczepanek

‘Jatilan is contemporary art’ Said Yustoni Volunteroo, a young prominent artist from Yogyakarta.

Yustoni refer to the what Heri Dono, another of prominent  Indonesian artwork as he represent the Jatilan performance. Not only represent the Jatilan in the ‘gallery’ for such uncommon place, but also modified it with different moving and the costume so. There are  Jatilan to be contemporary art as it is performe in uncommon moment so, that is in art Gallery and watched by people who in their mindset generally want to appreciate the art-work.


Horrified tree as the central

It was at the past that Jatilan performance summoned by the villagers or by person to communicate to gins. Mention to the Javanese believe if they must life in harmonic between human life and ‘another’ life which are fully occupy by various kind of gins from Tuyul, Genderuwo, Pocong, Wewe, Peri, Buto ijo, Kuntilanak, Ndas glundung, etc. All the name of those gin are labeled by it shape and habit. Such as Tuyul it shape as tiny little creature, bald head, moving so fast as is fluent to stolen money from human. Or, horrrified ‘Genderuwo’ which tall as palm tree high, curly long hair, big two red eyes, canine tooth, smelt like a burning cassava and quite messy appearance. If all of this creature become obviously disturbs villagers, then villagers will  ask to perform Jatilan. Else, there are such personal purpose to ask those ‘creatures’ which are living quietly within the big trees on the backyard to move out. The owner of the backyard want to cut of the trees as it will be build.

Then the Jatilan will start to perform, hit the gamelan, summon to all of the ‘creature’. Then some of the dance already trance. More active, wild, uncontrolled, angry face, and sometimes spoke with unclear words. Then some of them started to eat the Setaman flowers, swallow up chicken alive, grab the coconut and chew a smashed glass. But, its kind of magic, even they are nothing bloods or injury at all. At the top of the performance, there is a Shaman would be handle the trance dancer, started to communicate each other as if there another spirit appear on the trance dancer. The Shaman would asked of the spirit there not to disturb human life again as it to be the commitment between villagers and ‘those creatures’ to life within harmony.

Photo (c) by Jacek Szczepanek

The Show must go on

It was almost 15 year so when the Jatilan started to perform in the crossroad of my city, Yogyakarta. There no longer tranced dancer or Shaman. Or no longer Setaman Flower, black chicken, coconut or pieces of glass as it would be sacrificed and swallowed by the trance dancer. Even the sound is quite similar their the background already changes. If the past were the tall and big trees, then recently there are big billboards, flip flop of the traffic light, blast of the motorcycles, cars and busses. The sound of the gamelan would be attacked by the sound of engine, shouting the bus driver and all of the noisy city of Yogyakarta.

‘This is contemporary street dancer’ I said as if it install in the uncommon place, the cross road, just as it controlled by the light of the traffic light. When the light goes red, then the dancer start to dance at the Zebra cross just in front of the stopped people with the cars or motorcycle. Only few of the people quite take pay attention then throw the 100 rupiahs or 500 rupiahs coins in the cans hold by one dancer. But mostly seem quite obey, it just such another street clown a consequence of modernizations.  Then when the nearly light goes green the dancer will change to another side of cross road. Almost similar life happen in such 100 second of counting traffic light.

Yes, this is contemporary art. I said. In term of multimedia installation. Pretty complete, isn’t it? The monotonously tone of traditional gamelan mix noisy crossroad, Jatilan dancer in the landscape of billboard picturing advertisement of such beautiful luxurious girl, shampoo, mobile phone or another branded new technology. However the Jatilan performer itself, surely, there is no idea or knowledge if they perform something contemporary. It seem quite simple of their motivation. There is no longer people summon or ask them for their fluent to mediate between human life and the ‘another’ life. Or might be even their no longer ‘spirit’ or gins as they already moved by the raising buildings and advertisements.Yes, the show must goes on, even its no controlled with the flip flop of traffic lights and fueled by the throws of rupiahs coins. It pretty contemporary. 

Djamasan of Onthel Bike



(17 Desember 2009)

For the Javanese people, Suro is very special day. Suro is a new day for the Javanese calendar system according to the lunar system and Moslem Calendar System. As usual to celebrate the New Year day, there many unique ceremonial held. Mostly Javanese people will do ‘Tirakat’ an all along night staid awake without sleep. Of course, there many activity to fill this ‘Tirakat’ time, from performing ‘puppet show’, praying ‘sholawat’, visit a sacred place, etc.

There is also common tradition for Javanese people to cleaning up their traditional weapon, horse, special pet (usually bird), and any other special thinks. This tradition called Djamasan, used sacred water with a packet of flowers and mystique oil. Instead of the tradition, recently for many Javanese people doing Djamasan is just a common life style. Even, there still remain the motif of doing this ceremonial to obtain symbolic meanings as cleaning up both physically and spiritually to prepare for this new year day.

An old tradition also for some common people near Kraton Jogjakarta one of and old Javanese palace remains is ‘Laku bisu’. Laku bisu is circling with speechless mouth outside the Jogjakarta fortress palace for 7 times. Even this can be related to the acculturation of moslem ‘tawaf’ pray (circling 7 times for Ka’bah building), yet it be common Suro activity for native.

Since November 2007, there has been old vintage club community called Podjok in Yogyakarta doing many of unique activity. There is common acknowledgment for this community as and community vision to converse Javanese culture and identity. Then, there are mostly of this community activity always respond or relate to the Javanese agenda. Notably for this Suro agenda, Podjok respond this sacred day to doing Djamasan seremonial, too. But, uniquely, they didn’t clean up for keris ‘for special Javanese traditional weapons’ but they clean up, of course, their old bike collection. This old bike collection popularly called ‘Onthel’ bike.

The ceremony for Old Bike Djamasan started nearly at middle of the night. They gather together at north alun-alun in front of Jogjakarta Palace. They use special custom, mostly a set of Surjan a for a male and a set of Kemben female, a Javanese common people traditional cloth. Some man also used much simple cloth, just an black long pants and batiks headbands. Then, the group began to walking while handling their own each onthel bike beside. The group lead by 2 female bringing lantern started to walked quietly, speechless, making for about hundred meters long queue. They walk circling 7 times thorough the fortress of Jogjakarta palace square from the north to the south and from the east to the west.

The queue will end at north alun-alun, then prepare for Djamasan ceremonial. They put their bike stand in front of the palace in line, put the sacred waters, mystique oil, a set of setaman flower (setaman flower is set of rose, jasmine and any other flower), and set of Djamasan djamasan tools. Then one of the oldest man went out to the front, leading a such common prayer. There were incense with very mystique smelt already burn and fulfill surround the air and atmosphere. Yet, the leader of the group named Towil walked to front of the audience bringing a rolled paper. Then he open this rolled paper, reading a text, now knowing as poetry. There were at the corner two girl, again, bringing the a bucket of flower and water at the pot. Just a moment after poetry already spoken, the two girls begun to pour the water and flower to the line stand of the bikes. Last, the leader begun to taking a short speech about the group wishes for the better life and fortune for the next year.

According for some of the Moslem perception, this Djamasan ceremonial to be deviation for moslem faith. Because likely this ceremonial seem adore such for a bike. Even the bike is so special because of this old and unique. But, the groups already answer for this doubt. The reason of their old Bike Djamasan are purely for converse Javanese culture and identity in some ‘creative’ way. Taking ‘creative’ way is strategically to avoid the words ‘modern’ or ‘life style’ term. They also explain about symbolic action, an old bike Djamasan means to criticize our people about how they don’t pay attention for their bike as a their daily transportation. They also want to criticize about how the bike recently no longer become main transportation in contrary to fight against pollution, global warming, oil crisis and environmental degradation. There also want to said and old bike called onthel have many historical value, meaningful to study about how at the past this bike become so famous, familiarly as main transportation, a part of human life and life style. Well, sound there are a big mission of this statement, but for my it really unique performance. Salute.

(Alex Candra W)

Tea pot


Every morning there were in my family have our own tradition: "tea time". Since early morning, mom as a wife and mothers of four children had been busy in the kitchen ; cooking a big kettle of water, washing glasses, plates and all of dirty kitchen set After the water in that big kettle boiled, She prepared a pot, a classic pot. This classic pot was heritage from my grandparent. A classic pot from clay almost accompanying for about two generation at least and there inside of the clea tea pot were residu of many years tea and never cleaned deeply except with water. So, It kind of our secret taste of tea time that pouring in that old clea tea pot would be so tasty.

Then, my mother as similar did with my grandmother at the past, put tea to that old tea pot, filled it with hot water, prepared some glasses (the big one was for my father and another glass for rest of us).

There a tea time for everybody before I went to school and my father went to works and doing all of the activity untill the dawn. In the evening, my mother prepare for the night tea time. Still put the similar old tea pot, pour it with the tea leaf then put a hot waters.

The tea pot regullary happen in morning and evening as kind like a magic dringking for our family. After dringking that magic drink in the morning we felt soo energic and optimistic to fulfill our day. Then, in the evening when we felt soo tired, the magic dring keep us in relax.

The sound of magic drink I founded as I read about magic drink in 'Asterix' book comic. There in that Asteric book comic, a special shaman called Panoramix mix a special magic drinking for people in the small village of Galia. This special drinking made all of the villager in that small village of Galia so powerfull then can defent our land from attact of Rhome Legiun.

The tea pot had been become our family daily tradition, from the morning and in the evening, as a magic drink, as our family speciall moment, as our familly bond, untill my mother died.

Rest, after died, there no longer women who serve for our family tea time. It look like we loose our 'shaman' as Galia villager without Panoramix and his magic drinking.

Day by dea the old one tea pot never poured again with the tea and hot water since our familly loose our tea time.

Now, sometime I feel so nostalgic for our familly tea time when I smelt the fapour of my own cup of caffe or tea. But I feel it's unsimillar.

Who will stop the rain


Yes, now already rainy season, here in Jogjakarta, my hometown also. Almost everyday above us a dark sky with cloud. Sometimes rain came so havely and full of Thunder, but mostly rain come like cat and dog. 

I almost feels so strange of the smelt of land after the rain. Every place almost similar the smelt of evaporate land after the rain.

During the rain sometimes I feel so free. Why free? because almost nothing we can do when there out there a rain falls so heavily. I like wathing what running out there while the rain is coming. People outhere that still in bravely run thorought the rain and the question "why they still running out there?

Rain is coming, for another people is it a gift, but for another is nothing rather than weather.



Ever feel useless? Today I feel useless. Even I'm trying so hard to dig what Is really stuck in my brain. I feel I couldn't finish my work fast!

Social worker


About 3 years ago, in 2005, when I just quick from my job as journalist in Blank Magazine Yogyakarta (Actually this magazine was going on bankruptcy during the last years), then I got opportunity to join on environmental NGO called Hijau. Called in unfortunately, because I'had joined by my friend that inviting me there. The first project was also with my friend recommended me for Hijau's staff, that we would produce comic for educational campaign purpose. This first edition of comic titled "elang Jawa" (Javan hawk eagle). Yup, we plan to produce series of comic about dangerous species in Indonesia, from orangutan to Eagle, from sea turtle to Sumatran Tiger, From Sumatran Elephant to Ujungkulon Rhinoceros.
After the first edition of it series "Javan Hawk Eagle" we got problem to sell and to distribute it to public. Sure we got sponsor for it first edition from many other institution, but still there are not working for sustainable financial support for the next edition and for team payee.
I've been so active in Hijau for about 2 years until another kind of idea to manage my own ad