by Amalia Firman
The people of Nusantara have a treasury of traditions for survival. One of these cultural treasures that has been widely admired and studied is the woven gringsing cloth that is produced only by the people of Tenganan Pagringsingan in Bali.
Whereas urban society is entangled in concerns of materialism, the people of Tenganan Pagringsingan prioritize balance and harmony between themselves and nature. This balance and harmony are nurtured through rituals and strict customary laws that cultivate self-control, which are rooted in honesty and implanted from early childhood.
However, the rapid, furious and tumultuous changes of current times have seeped into all aspects of life. The society of Tenganan Pagringsingan is facing the challenges of a new era. In the midst of the chaos of these changes, whether conscious of it or not, the society is struggling to retain its cultural identity.
Gringsing cloth, the distinctive achievement of Tenganan Pagringsingan, was the initial door by which the author entered this society. Accompanied by her close friend who is a photographer, her exploration has continued for almost two decades. Into the Eye of Life – Mata Jiwa: a Memoir of Tenganan Pagringsingan is a recording of this journey.
Unlike a stranger’s mere compilation of observations, this memoir is a presentation of all that was witnessed, contemplated and absorbed through the eyes and soul of the author. These reflections have now found renewed personal expression in prose and intimate, reflective photos of Tenganan Pagringsingan.
This is an offering of the spirit for those who value the meaning of life.