Clay art, Beloved,
Hugged by earth, hardened by sun
Livened by heaven—
In Java island clay was commonly used not only to make art work but also as material to make kitchenware, eating utensils, plant pots, etc. Kasongan, Yogyakarta is one of famous villages of clay work industry in which different types of clay art and utensils are mass produced or customised as per buyers’ request.
One clay utensil that I often used in my childhood was kendi, a clay jug used to contain drinking water – it makes drinking water smell subtly earthy and feels cooly fresh. Children would dispense water from the jug to glass to drink; adult would usually just lift the kendi slightly above mouth level and dispense the water directly to their open mouth without touching the tip of the kendi mouth to their mouth — whoa so difficult to explain!
Kendi is not however commonly used as the function is now replaced by plastic containers and refrigerator. It is now mostly used in Javanese traditional ceremony or in some households that still want to keep some traditional way of life. I prepare 5 kendi to compliment the fridge in my Javanese home — 5 kendi are ready before the dining table is ready 😁
Kendi is actually an acronym (kerata basa in Javanese grammar) of “kendalining diri” (kendalining: control, diri: self) or self control. In Javanese culture kerata basa is used to tie a good teaching to what people is doing. So, practically kendi is not a personal utensil like spoon and fork, anyone can share it. Through the name Javanese know that using kendi, there shall be some self control applied. When someone drinks directly from the clay jug, one should do it carefully to minimise the risk of dropping the kendi and break it; and not greedily gulp all water as other family members or friends also need fresh water in that hot day.
Culturally (at least according to Greek mythology and Quran) human being’s physical is created from clay —like kendi— that is given soul by the Source and so we are breathing. So it is natural that human beings are fundamentally attached to earth. Yet how much ever human beings want to stay as firm, strong, young, beautiful like the clay coming from earth, it is not possible. There is breathing that fans the “fire of life” in the clay body and when it stops “fanning”, the clay body stops functioning.
Can’t live forever, some like to play “forever pretending”. Pretending to be young or beautiful or firm with plastic surgery. Pretending to be happy with some drugs. Pretending to be more precious than others with fake luxury and conspiracy. Pretending this and that.
Ah! That game! That’s fun indeed! Yet it is not doable for me. Being human is not an easy job, pretending makes it even difficult and complicated and unnecessary. So please count me out. 💃🏽
Hey! If some people want to live forever or stay young, firm, strong, beautiful and fully functional; they’d better be a kendi. 😂