Dari Pusat Tasek 7

Melayang Kueh Pauh Dilayang!

The Dari Pusat Tasek show runs at the Percha Art Space in Lumut till the 5th Jan 2020 (EXTENDED TILL 19 JAN 2020) .

In the Hikayat Jaya Langkara, a quest for the healing saffron flower leads the Princess Ratna Kasina to a mountain at the pusat tasek where the rising tide brings the miraculous flower up within her reach. While there is no mention of the Pokok Pauh Janggi in this fable, the buah Pauh appears twice in the list of similes used to extoll the beauty of Princess. Princess Ratna Kasina is said to have cheeks like sliced mango (pipi-nya saperti pauh di-layang), and heels like turned (or peeled) mango (tumit-nya saperti pauh di-larek).

For the opening reception of the show at Percha Art Space, Percha Director, Suhaila Hashim, steamed her first Kueh Pauh Dilayang after experimenting with recipes found online. The cake was sliced (dilayang) and served to locate the mango within Malay mythology and aesthetics, and to articulate the core symbolism of the Dari Pusat Tasek happening which includes –

  1. a performance based the mythic realities of the ‘navel of the seas’ or the Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi.
  2. a gallery installation featuring the Koboi Balik Kampung series of 12 photographic prints and presents an autobiographical take on the complexities of contemporary Malaysian art and society.
  3. and the serving of this rare Kelantan sweet – the Kueh Pauh Dilayang.

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. 


Dari Pusat Tasek 2

1. Dunia; 2. Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi; 3. Padang Jauh dan Puncak Gunung; 4. Pulau Buah; 5. Kayangan; 6. Dasar Laut.  Diagram by Taib Osman

The Koboi Project exhibition and performance titled Dari Pusat Tasek will open at the Percha Art Space in Lumut on 25th Dec 2019. There will be an impromptu street performance, carried out as part of this exhibition, based on the malay myth of the ‘navel of the seas’ or the pusat tasik pauh janggi. The combined downward spiral of the Pusat Tasek and the upward thrust of the enormous Pokok Pauh Janggi combine to create an axis of the world, one that analogous with the Tiang Seri of the traditional Malay House. In the Malay Ontology or cosmos – 1. Dunia is inhabited by Man, animals, plants, objects, spirits; 2. Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi is inhabited by Nagas, Jins, Garudas; 3. Padang Jauh dan Puncak Gunung is inhabited by Giants, jins; 4. Pulau Buah is inhabited by Ancestral spirits; 5. Kayangan is inhabited by Dewa, Perman; 6. Dasar Laut is inhabited by Raja Lebis. 

The Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi appears to exemplify more general Southeast Asian structural and relational principles in which – 1. The Navel of the Seas drains the waters of the world; 2. A submarine tree or world pillar at the navel links the human realm to both the underworld and the skyworld; 3. There are mythic creatures dwelling at the navel of the seas at the base of the tree or pillar; 4. The ebb and flow of tides are due to the movements of the creature blocking the drain at the navel; 5; The ocean currents are due to water flowing in and out of the drain at the navel; 6. Earthquakes are caused by creature at navel of the sea shaking the world pillar; 7. There are relationship between these flows to the movement of the Sun and Moon and events like eclipses; 8. Rising sea levels and flooding are associated with the navel of the sea.