29 Oktober 2009


The fertility goddess, Nyi Pohaci Sanghyang Sri, was born from tears of a dragon. The dragon, Dewa Anta, was the god of the underworld. His shame brought sorrows that made him shed tears, which transformed into three eggs. An eagle mistakenly broke two of them, and laid the third that became the beautiful Sri. Sri was later raised by Dewi Uma and Batara Guru, the ruler of the heaven. His power had blinded him, and he fell in love with his own step daughter. The symbol of power attacked the symbol of tenderness. Sri wanted to refuse, but who could run away from the king of all gods?
Sri surrendered…

With a condition, that Batara Guru might touch her only if he could gave her several plants that she was longing for.


Batara Guru held the dead body of Sri. Stiff and frozen. He sat in silence.

He ordered the gods to burry Nyi Pohaci Sanghyang Sri in a patch of land on earth. In Pajajaran.

The death of Pohaci brought a blissful life for the people of Pajajaran. Batara Guru was devoted to his words. Blessed plants grew from Pohaci’s grave. Coconut grew from her hand, rice grew from her breasts, sugar coconut grew from her crotch, mango grew from her hands, and cassava and sweet potato grew from her legs.

The blessing of fertility makes the farmers worship Nyi Pohaci Sanghyang Sri.
(loosely translated from Beber Foto Gigalitikum? Catalogue)
I don't know why I'm a little obsessed with the Pohaci legend. A few years back, I made a short movie script that referred to, and even using it in the title. Alas, I didn't manage to gather the crews, and probably the money, to realize it.

My mom didn't tell the story to me as a child. However, she often reminded me to finish my meal because if I let a few rice grains untouched, 'Nasinya akan menangis' (the rice would cry). She said that that principle (or myth) was also told to her by her mother, and she carried that from her own childhood up to now. I take that as the way the Sundanese's traditional perception of rice and foodstock in general.

I thought the legend was also similar in Javanese culture, but I found a (slightly) different version.
Behind the harvest ritual lies the story of Tisnawati and Djakasudana. Tisnawati, the daughter of Batara Guru, the king of the gods, fell in love with Djakasudana, a mortal. In anger, her father turned her into a rice stalk and, pitying her human husband, who merely sat and gazed sorrowfully at his transformed wife, changed Djakasudana into a rice stalk also. The harvest ritual re-enacts their marriage, and is often referred to as temanten pari, or "rice marriage."
(C. Geertz, The Religion of Java, 1960)
Oh, and Tisnawati is also known as Mbok Sri, by the way.

Beber Foto Gigalitikum?, which catalogue I quote above was a photography exhibition by Ray Bachtiar Dradjat. It was in year 2000 and I think I got there with Bondy and Dodol, riding Jenny (Bondy’s VW Beetle). It wasn't really crowded, even a little bit quiet, so we had the chance to talk to the host. We discussed a bit about the photographs and how he used a lot of digital photography and processing in that exhibition. He said it didn't really matter what kind of technique one use, and after all, digital photography can be considered as more environmental friendly than the conventional one.

Mind you, in 2000, digital photography was still in primitive stage compared to what we have now. The files back then didn't even have metadatas. Speak of the devil...

1 komentar:

  1. saya Ray Bachtiar Dradjat
    terimakasih tulisannya....
    apa saya bisa berkenalan lebih jauh
    tolong hubungi saya di email kljindonesia@yahoo.com