Our next day in Jogja turned out much better than our first evening there. We hired a cycle rickshaw (we’re not quiet sure what they are called in Indonesia) driver to take us around for the day. The going rate is 5,000 rupiah/hour. That’s about US 50 cents/ hour to peddle himself and the two of us around! Some of the drivers manage to support families off their income. We cannot fathom how that is possible. We had planned to visit the palace, but when we got close we realized that would not be possible with the swarms of motor bikes and bus loads of people decked out in blue and white shirts heading to the palace for a political rally. It was about a week before the legislative elections in Indonesia, and the campaigning was in full force. Indonesia is a young democracy, and it was great to see how many people were actively preparing for the election. There were banners and flags for blue, red, green, and other parties, as well as plenty of TV ads.
Instead of the palace, our driver took us around to a selection of handy craft shops. We have been traveling quite a while now and are used to the obligatory tourist souvenir shop stops, where we habitually refuse to buy anything. But this time things were different. At each shop we were warmly welcomed and met by someone who walked us through the production process. After seeing the workshops and heading to the display rooms, we appreciated the crafts and found lots of beautiful souvenirs to buy! Many places we have visited we didn’t care much for the trinkets on sale, but in Jogja we really liked the craftsmanship and finished pieces of art. First we got to see the process of making traditional Jogja filigree jewelry.
After visiting the jewelry store it began to sprinkle and then rain even harder, so we got out and stood under a tree while our driver outfitted the cyclo with a plastic cover. He didn’t have another piece to cover the front, like most drivers do, so we were lucky that we had our rain ponchos with us.
Next stop was a batik clothing store. It was interesting to see the batik makers hard at work in the workshop out back. First, for hand drawn batik, the pattern is drawn on the fabric.
Next the design is gone over with brown wax. The sections to stay white are covered with clear wax.
The wax is allowed to dry.
For stamped batik, the repeating pattern is stamped in wax onto the fabric.
Stamped batik is not as expensive as hand drawn batik, but it can still be beautiful!
Next the colors are filled inside the wax lines with dye.
After the dye has been completely filled in, the fabric is dried. If it is cotton it is then boiled in hot water to remove the wax. For silk, it’s dipped in gasoline to remove the silk (and rinsed well afterwords!).
We didn’t buy any clothes at the batik clothing store, which seemed rather over priced and geared toward large tour groups. (Later we visited a batik art gallery, where we did make some purchases.) After the batik clothing store we headed to a local shadow puppet maker’s store. The puppet maker we met is a third generation puppet maker in his family, and hoping to pass the trade down to a son he may have in the future. Here he was showing George some of the natural paints that he uses:
Puppet making is a long process– it can take 2 weeks to complete a puppet! The material used is water buffalo, not cow hide, which would warp more over time. The designs are carefully carved out of the buffalo hide.
The finished products are exquisitely detailed!
The characters are from an Indian story that is performed both as a puppet show and a dance performance in Jogja. Locals describe it as similar to Romeo and Juliet, except with a happy ending, where the couple live a long and happy life together. The characters are portrayed in their old age:
We were really impressed with the puppets, and just had to get a pair to bring home!