Happy Salma

In­spired by ‘Nyai’ On­tosoroh

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - News - +Se­bas­tian Par­togi

Lovers of In­done­sian lit­er­a­ture are fa­mil­iar Nyai On­tosoroh, the cen­tral woman char­ac­ter in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s clas­sic Bumi Manu­sia (This Earth of Mankind), a novel set in the Dutch East Indies in 1890. Nyai On­tosoroh has be­come a sym­bol of fem­i­nine power and re­silience, thanks to the pop­u­lar­ity of the novel it­self. Stage ac­tress Happy Salma is im­mensely in­spired by the char­ac­ter, who she has por­trayed in two dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tions: A 2012 mono­logue de­liv­ered in Ubud in trib­ute to Pramoedya and a stage play ti­tled Bunga Penutup Abad (The Flower that Ends a Cen­tury) per­formed in 2016. Now, Happy has com­bined her fas­ci­na­tion with the char­ac­ter with her Tu­lola Jew­elry busi­ness: The UK Art and Cul­tural Trip show­cased sev­eral of Tu­lola’s lat­est pieces, in­clud­ing the On­tosoroh Neck­lace. The piece draws in­spi­ra­tion from the jacket col­lars worn by Ja­vanese no­bil­ity dur­ing the colo­nial era. An orange blos­som mo­tif adorn­ing the inside of the col­lar is a replica of the sil­ver em­broi­dery dec­o­rat­ing the wed­ding dress of Dutch Queen Wil­helmina. The mo­tif rep­re­sents the op­pres­sion of lo­cal Ja­vanese women in the late 1800s. An­other Tu­lola piece show­cased in the UK was called Lingkaran Semesta (Cir­cle of the Uni­verse), in­spired by the shapes of the banyan tree and the full moon. “My part­ner Dewa Sri Luce and I are ob­vi­ously very happy and proud to be able to present the evo­lu­tion of In­done­sian jew­elry, 100 per­cent made by hand, in­spired by the riches we in­her­ited from our an­ces­tors,” Happy told J+ in a re­cent in­ter­view. Happy said she de­vised cre­ative and mar­ket­ing con­cepts for the new pieces, while Dewa Sri Luce de­signed the jew­elry. Eight skilled crafts­men make the pieces by hand. “We also added a mod­ern touch to Tu­lola’s jew­elry de­sign to en­sure prac­ti­cal­ity for users,” Happy said. Pre­sent­ing the pieces to a Bri­tish au­di­ence will help show the global au­di­ence that In­done­sian is a na­tion that hon­ors its past as part of its iden­tity while still ac­tively en­gag­ing the world as global cit­i­zens. “I hope that in the fu­ture, we have our own sep­a­rate dis­plays at th­ese types of events, in­stead of be­ing merged with other Asian coun­tries,” Happy said. “We are wor­thy of rep­re­sent­ing our na­tion to a global au­di­ence in a beau­ti­ful and el­e­gant way.”

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