Dari Pusat Tasek 3

Wayang Kulit puppets – Pokok Pauh Janggi and Ketam Gergasi

The Dari Pusat Tasek exhibition and performance will open at the Percha Art Space in Lumut on 25th Dec 2019. This performance for this event arises from the mythic realities of the ‘navel of the seas’ or the Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi. Far out in in the deep ocean somewhere in the proximity of the island of Borneo, or even in the mouth of the Perak river, depending on which account one follows, there is said to be a momentus whirlpool that swirls down to the depths, draining the waters into the earth. Also at this nexus, rooted on the ocean floor, is the fabulous Pokok Pauh Janggi that reaches up to the heavens. At the base of this tree, at the bottom of the ‘pusat tasek’, there is said to sit a giant crab, blocking the opening of the drain of the waters. It is the daily movements of this crab, that cause the oceans to rise and fall cyclically, giving us both the currents and the tides.  The oceanic currents are sometimes personified as a regular visitor, the Mambang Tali Harus, a type of spirit who is said to go back and forth from the navel of the seas (bĕrulang ka pusat tasek). Rooted at this centre of tidal activity, this Pusat Tasik, is the fabulous Pokok Pauh Janggi that reaches up to the heavens.

In the Selangor Malay tale of Haji Batu, a man, journeying to perform the Haj, had to cross the fearsome Navel of the Seas, known to be a dangerous and fiendish place (Siapa terjatuh atau tergelincir, tersuruplah ia ke dalam pusar. Tempat menanti segala mara bahaya. Tempat duduk menantinya Nenek Sepit Pentala Naga di Laut Buih Gelombang Tujuh. Kalau si lemah yang sampai, maka hilang ghaiblah ia di mulut Raja Naga yang maha bisa). As Haji Batu’s ship went down, he clung to the Pokok Pauh Janggi, and following instructions he had received in a dream, drew himself up on 7 nails that he drove into the tree. When he reached the top, he found the nest of the mythical Burong Roc (Garuda) that lived there.  He waited therein and when the Roc returned, he attached himself to the bird and flew Westward on his Journey to Mecca.