Dari Pusat Tasek opens with a performance on the Lumut Waterfront at 5pm and a reception at 8.30pm at PERCHA ART SPACE, LUMUT PERAK on 25 December 2019. The show will run for 2 weeks (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020) .
W. E. Maxwell, who served in the British Straits Settlements as Commissioner of Land Titles, Member of the Executive and Legislative Councils and Colonial Secretary Acting Governor and as Resident of Selangor, was a pioneering contributor to the academic discipline that we have come to call Malay Studies. He was a regular contributor to the Royal Journal of Asiatic Studies. I turn to his ethnographic writing, via William Skeat’s Malay Magic, retrieve an archaic Malay cleansing ritual whose practice is likely to have ceased today.
In this bathing ceremony, as practised by the Perak Malays, “Limes … are cut in two and squeezed (ramas) in the hand. … When the body is deemed sufficiently cleansed the performer, taking his stand facing the East, spits seven times, and then counts up seven aloud. After the word tujoh (seven) he throws away the remains of the limes … to the West, saying aloud, Pergi-lah samua sial jambalang deripada badan aku ka pusat tasek Paujangi, ‘Misfortune and spirits of evil begone from my body to the whirlpool of the lake Paujangi!’ Then he throws (jurus) a few buckets of water over himself, and the operation is complete.”
The Pusat Tasek Paujangi, is of course, the place at which all the waters of the world are ultimately received. These waters bring, to the swirl of the Pusat Tasek, all of the flotsam, jetsam and refuse of the world.
The Pusat Tasek of myth seems to coincide with the contemporary swirl of the North Pacific Gyre – a place at which the worst of our contemporary sial jambalang reside and to which other maleficence might be dismissed an a contemporary purification!