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RA Kartini, The True Princess and The Myth of The Bracelet Tiger, Macan Kurung

I Once upon a time, more than 10 years ago. When I went to Triwindu Market, I was offered a piece of carving that was quite strange. Carved from a whole log of teak wood, without glue, without joints. Where the middle is a cage. The funny thing is, on it there is actually the shape of the Pancasila eagle and what is caged is a tiger with a ball in it. At first I thought, the tiger was caged to play ball. Wrong! That's why the contemporary form of the Carving Tiger Kurung is far from its original form. Moreover, my work has been painted in such a way, to make it look contemporary.

Years later, I just found out it was a so-called model craft or artwork called Macan Kurung. A work of art carving the most complicated and difficult, ever made by craftsmen from Jepara. How is it not complicated, because this carving is made without connection on a single whole wooden log, which must be pryed open so that there is an empty space in it, forming a cage, in which there is a caged tiger.

Later, I found out that the tiger wasn't just locked up. But at his feet or neck hung iron balls. Already locked up, snared with iron balls. What symbol is this tiger? How scary is he? The work of the Tiger Brackets statue, later became a symbol of the city of Jepara. Because of the uniqueness and level of uniqueness and peculiarities of the manufacturing technique. If we are going to enter this city, on the border with the holy there is a gate that implies this work. Of course, the inside is not in the form of wood, but the statue is casted in concrete.

But do the public know that this type of work made RA Kartini move to start her struggle.

Macan Kurung actually has long been made into a product of Jepara carving since the time of Asmo Sawiran, the father of Singowiryo.

The father is said to be the inventor of the engraver belonging to the legendary sculptor of the Majapahit era, named Sungging Prabangkara, which fell in the area behind the mountain. I will tell about this in a separate article. However, it was only in the era of the child, Singowiryo, who was of the same generation as Kartini who acted as his mentor. No, by the way, Kartini and her two sisters, Kardinah and Rukmini, are trying to send Jepara carvings to participate in the Nationale Tentoonstelling voor Vrouwnarbeid (National Exhibition of Women's Works) which was held in The Hague, Netherlands in The Hague in 1898.

The work received special attention from Queen Wilhelmina and Queen Mother Queen Emma. Even the chairman of the committee, Mrs. Lucardie, the Queen and the Queen Mother asked to read a letter of introduction from Kartini. The incident was written about in several Dutch newspapers, one of which was the newspaper De Roterdamse Courant on August 30, 1898. This exhibition turned out to be the opening door for the development of Jepara carving art. Because when in 1899 the Dutch East Indies government opened a branch office of the Oest en West trading institution in Batavia, this institution immediately collaborated with RA Kartini, by ordering various types of Jepara carvings.

To be able to fulfill this order, RA Kartini then set up a carving workshop behind the district pavilion. This carving workshop was then led by Singowiryo who supervised his fellow carvers from Behind the Mountain. This Kartini workshop then received many orders. Not only to the Netherlands but also to orders from Jepara and several other countries. Seeing the carving art that had been successfully developed by RA Kartini, the Regent of Jepara, RMAA Koesoemo Oetoyo in 1905 who replaced RA Kartini's father, RMAA Sosroningrat, then required all existing schools to provide carving lessons.

To appreciate the role of RA Kartini in the development of carving and pioneering art carried out by the Regent of RMAA Koesoemo Oetoyo. In 1929 the Government of the Netherlands East Indies established the Openbare Ambachtsschool or Carpentry School with the Department of Carving. This carpentry school aims to improve the quality of Jepara carving, in terms of shapes, motifs, and various decorations. The context of "openbare" must be underlined, because it shows as an open school that allows anyone to gain knowledge in it.

So what exactly is eating the tiger brackets statue really? This is where the irony is.

In its original form, the bird in the cage is not the Garuda Pancasila statue. But the picture of the fight between an eagle and a dragon. It symbolizes the struggle between a group of indigenous carvers, who have always considered themselves to be gripped and exploited by Chinese middlemen. Meanwhile, the imprisoned tiger symbolizes the indigenous ruler who is powerless to help his people. Is this tiger a symbol of Kartini, who has been predicted (and longed for) since the first time this work was created by Asmo Sawiran.

Can yes can no. But is Kartini symbolized as a tiger?

Some time ago, at the beginning of 2020. After a long time this type of tiger bracket statue began to recede. An organization in Jepara called Rumah Kartini, took the initiative to make "the contemporary tiger brackets". No more fighting eagles and dragons. There are no more eagles in the cage. In fact, there are four Javanese dragons which are actually the legs of the cage. His tail and body were wrapped around the bars of the cage. The four of them turned their backs on each other, facing the four cardinal directions. Which means as a guard rather than a bully. On top of the cage, a puppet story is inscribed. And at the top it was replaced with a book.

What new sign? It is clear that times have changed. There is no longer a minor tone and excessive sentiment towards the hegemony of the Chinese against Javanese ethnicity. It was replaced, a symbol of acculturation of a Chinese dragon but with a Javanese crown. Mutual cooperation, care and respect. At its climax, the strife was replaced by the pressing of an open book. Books as a tool are not just a means of learning about the history of the past. But especially changing the way of thinking that the world can also develop, for the better.

This paper aims primarily to show that a Kartini is not only known to promote women's education. With what is understood as the emancipation of women. Far from being imaged as a symbol of a defeated woman, who is powerless when she is polygamous. He had a trading consciousness, which was beyond his time. And she has done so as a cross-country female businesswoman. He does real work: promoting the products of his people, paving the way for cross-border trade. He co-founded a carving school for boys, not just reading and writing courses for girls.

The point is he doesn't just write, complain, and vent. But he moves, creates and shares. Because as a person who loves his homeland, he is very inspired by teak wood (and the various works made from it). Plants that grow a lot around the place where he was born, grew up, and where he was approaching his destiny. He was nervous about his older brother Sosrokartono, the first cosmopolitan genius of his ethnicity, then collaborated with his two younger siblings, Rukmini and Kardinah. Corresponding with his friends in the Netherlands, expressed his thoughts. He is constantly moving in the short history of his life.

Happy Birthday to Our Mother Kartini! We should understand more and more, why in the song in her honor she is referred to as the "True Princess". A person who smells good...

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