January 11, 2017
When I asked Maya why she wanted to join the Meet the Makers event she smiled and said “What I know is resource persons get certificates for imparting knowledge onto others. I’ve always wanted a certificate. I heard I’ll get one after this event.” 🙂
Maya is one of the youngest participants of Meet the Makers, a unique exhibition of artisans for artisans, by artisans. A rare exhibition and fair where city dwellers get to meet and learn more directly from the artisans behind the products.
Maya is a potter from Bayat village who did a demonstration in Jakarta last October.
Bayat village, located in Central Java, has long been known as the potters’ pottery since a long time ago. In Bayat, pottery making is usually referred to as women’s work. It can be seen clearly with how the slanted rotary tool is especially designed for women so as to consider the modesty of the sarong in the footwork needed to run the pottery wheel. That is why the technique is unique. In the village, Bayat women make pottery to generate income, while the men work in the rice fields.
At 14, unlike most teenagers in the village at her age, Maya has honed her skills in making pottery. Her talent in pottery was inherited from her mother, and she was also encouraged by her father. She admitted that at first it was her parents who “forced” her to learn on how to make pottery. Sri Jarwanti and Suharno, Maya’s parents, actually had a good reason to do so! They wanted to introduce the art of pottery to people, and before introducing Bayat’s artistry to others, it was fitting that they should first introduce this first to their only daughter. As time went on, Maya finally acquired the enjoyment and appreciation in learning the skill from her mother as she found her own motivation-–and it wasn’t for gaining money but for enabling her to embrace a wider creative opportunity.
While most of the women in her mother’s generation are motivated to make pottery for generating income, the motivation is a bit different for Maya’s generation. Her motivation to learn and maintain the culture is so strong because she wants to develop and prepare herself for better opportunities. She realized that this special skill allows her to be outstanding, not just in school but even outside her academic environment. Her participation in Meet the Makers gives her an outstanding credit in school.
Nowadays, interest and involvement of youth is an issue in many artisan communities like Bayat. Most of the youth are no longer driven to be artisans like many of their parents. Maybe, most of the parents also do not hope that their children will continue to be artisans like themselves, because they would want their children to be better educated towards a better future.
But like Maya who sees the opportunity in embracing and enhancing her identity as a Bayat potter, we also wish that other children could also share the same enthusiasm for their own cultural identity, and find a place for it in their present and in their future.
We hope we could have more “Mayas” in the future–more proud young artisans with bigger dreams! Maya’s certificate of appreciation as an artisan at Meet the Makers is maybe only her first step in achieving them.
Maya’s participation in the Meet the Makers event was made possible through the support of the Indonesian Heritage Society