Penulis: Irwan Syamsir [English Version below]

Beberapa bulan sebelumnya, saya sudah dikabari salah seorang kawan mahasiswa jurasan film dari Makassar yang akan melakukan syuting film dokumenter di Mandar, sebagai pemenuhan tugas akhir. Kami pun bertemu di pasar Tinambung, di hari-hari pertengahan ramadan dan membicarakan project film tersebut yang ternyata tentang Towaine Mandar. Towaine, dalam bahasa Mandar berarti perempuan. Pemaknaan perempuan tentu saja masih umum atau universal. Namun, alam, lingkungan dan kebudayaan di mana perempuan berada, amat menentukan bagaimana mereka hidup dan beraktivitas sepanjang hari. Jadi, bukan hanya soal perempuan, tetapi sekaligus tentang Mandar itu sendiri.

Sudah ada beberapa tempat yang hendak kami tuju. Salah satunya adalah sungai Mandar. Sebuah sungai besar yang membentang di kota kecil bernama Tinambung, yang hulunya berbatasan langsung dengan Mamasa. Di bawah sungai inilah, kami bertemu para perempuan passau’ uwai, yang berarti penimbah air. Massau’ atau menimbah, adalah pekerjaan sehari-hari perempuan Mandar yang notabene tinggal di sekitar sungai. Setiap hari mereka berangkat pada jam dini hari, berjalan kaki sekian kilo, masing-masing membawa kurang lebih seratus jerigen yang akan diisinya hingga siang hari lalu pulang dengan cara menghanyutkan diri sambil menarik beratus jerigen tersebut yang nanti dijualnya ke tetangga.

Kami memutuskan untuk tinggal di rumah salah seorang passau’. Sebuah rumah panggung sederhana di desa Ga’de, yang posisinya berada tepi muara sungai. Kami lalu berkenalan dengan Sa’dian, perempuan yang cukup gigih dan sudah lama menekuni pekerjaannya sebagai penimbah. Sa’dianlah yang akan mengantar kami ke sungai, tempat ia dan ibu, dan tetangga-tetangganya menimbah air. Malam itu, hujan deras mengguyur Tinambung dan sekitar. “Bisa jadi esok kita tidak turun ke sungai”, kata nenek, ibu dari Sa’dian. Air pasti pasang dan tidak ada tempat untuk membut sumur-sumur kecil. Kami beberapakali mendapati cuaca demikian dan membuat kami harus menunggu. Tetapi tidak bagi Sa’dian. Saat kami masih tertidur dan hujan reda pada jam jelang subuh, ia turun ke sungai, berjalan kaki, membawa puluhan jerigennya, memastikan pasang surut air meski ujung-ujungya ia pulang karena air sungai benar-benar pasang sehabis hujan. Biasanya, jerigen-jerigen itu akan diletakkan di sana, dan kembali pada pagi atau jelang siang hari. Butuh sekian jam bagi Sa’dian, dan para perempuan lainnya, mengisi beratus jerigen mereka sebelum menghanyutkan diri untuk pulang.

Di hari yang lain, kami turun lebih pagi sungai. Kami melihat Sa’dian tampak sedang kewalahan menggali pasir. Banyak peluh di dahinya. Cuaca memang sangat berpengaruh akan kondisi air. Tetapi ia hanya sesekali berbicara. Seperti biasa, Sa’dian lebih banyak tersenyum. Kameraman kami lalu menerbangkan drone. “Ada capung”, Sa’dian berceletuk dan kami semua tertawa. Hingga hari sudah jelang siang, kami memutuskan untuk pulang lebih awal dan menunggu mereka di sekitar jembatan Tinambung.

Tak berselang lama, perempuan-perempuan Mandar tangguh itu sudah terlihat dari jauh. Mereka berenang menggunakan ban dan di sisi mereka beratus jerigen yang sudah terisi ditariknya sambil mengibas-ngibaskan tangan dan kaki di dalam air. Sa’dian melihat kami memasang kamera.  Ia melambaikan tangan dan menyapa kami. Bahagia sekali. Padahal kami tahu begitu lelah.. Kami sudah mengingatkan Sa’dian untuk mengabaikan kamera. Tetapi kami tahu itu lambaian persahabatan. Beratus jerigen ditarik oleh Sa’dian, ibu dan tetangga-tetangganya. Mereka menjualnya hanya dengan harga 500 rupiah perjerigen. Itu takkan masuk akal dalam hitung-hitungan ekenomi saat ini. Tidak bagi mereka. Bukan hanya soal upah. Lebih dari itu nilai yang mereka junjung terhadap sungai yang telah memberi mereka hidup.

Perjalanan selanjutnya kami menemui perempuan-perempuan Mandar yang lain yang jarak tempatnya tidak begitu jauh sama lain. Di Oting, kami bertemu dengan para perempuan pembuat gerabah. Gerabah adalah hasil kerajinan dari tanah yang diolah secara manual untuk membuat tungku, dan peralatan dapur lainnya. Cara kerjanya lumayan berat karena proses awalnya harus menggali tanah yang akan jadi bahan untuk membuat kerajinan. Prosesi yang paling berat adalah memanaskannya. Hal itu dilakukan untuk menguatkan tekstur gerabah. Di Mandar, semua dikerjakan dengan manual dan oleh tangan para perempuan. “yah, anak-anak kami juga bisa selesai sekolah karena ini”, kata salah seorang dari mereka,

Kami dua kali datang ke mereka. Pertama, melihat pengolahan gerabah dan kedua, saat prosesi pembakaran. Sejumlah gerabah yang sudah dibuat disusun dengan baik di halaman rumah yang luas lalu ditutupi tumpukan kayu. Rata-rata dari bekas pohon kelapa. Kami merekam dan agak kesulitan untuk mendekat. Aura api begitu terasa. Tetapi perempuan-perempuan di Oting ini, tampaknya sudah sangat terbiasa. Mereka hanya menutupi wajah dengan sarung dan mengambil posisi lebih dekat untuk memperbaiki posisi kayu. Hingga api sudah  mulai turun dan  panas gerabah juga sudah merata, baru mereka beristirahat. Kami melihat salah seorang perempuan beranjak ke rumah dan kembali dengan sejumlah makanan dan juga sirup yang ditenteng bersama anaknya. Ternyata, perempuan inilah yang punya gerabah. Jadi, para perempuan di kampung ini punya usaha gerabah sendiri, yang punya waktu pembakaran masing-masing. Ia yang dapat giliran pembakaran akan menanggung konsumsi para perempuan  lain yang membantunya. Begitulah seterusnya. Kami ikut menikmati hidangan  mereka. Sejumlah kue tradisional yang mereka buat hanya untuk hari membakar gerabah. “Tidak usah malu, kita semua keluarga”, kata para perempuan itu kepada kami. Bahkan, mereka juga membungkuskan sebagai oleh-oleh buat pulang.

Kami lalu meneruskan perjalanan ke Pambusuang dan berniat bertemu  para perempuan penenun sutra Mandar. Sehari sebelumnya kami sudah berkabar akan datang dan mereka betul-betul menunggu kami. Membuat sutra juga tak  kalah  ribet prosesnya. Ada sekian tahap yang harus mereka lewati sampai sarung betul-betul jadi. Kami menayksikan beberapa tahapnya. Pada sutra ada yang disebut dengan sureq yang berarti motif. Masing-masing motif memiliki tingkat kesulitannya sendiri ketika ditenun. Motif sutra juga menjadi penanda identitas masyarakat Mandar yang waktu pakainya bergantung dengan agenda yang apa yang hendak dihadiri.  Saat ini sutra sudah turun pasar. Jumlah penenun bisa dibilang sudah bisa dihitung jari. Mereka akan mengerjakan berdasarkan  pesanan dan tentu itu tidak selalu ada. “Ini yang kami bisa dan  ini yang diajarkan orang tua kami dulu”, kata salah seorang dari mereka. 

Kurang lebih dua jam kami duduk di bawah kolong rumah panggung yang sederhana. Hentak  kayu dan bunyi benang yang sedang dipilin membawa suasana yang cukup arsi di tengah-tengah kampung. Kami lalu pamit dan berjabat dengan  mereka. Salah seorang kawan kami memeluk satu dari perempuan penenun itu, yang usianya sudah cukup tua tetapi semangatnya masih terasa muda, Ia menangis seolah tak ingin melepas pelukan. Di Mandar memang begitu,  kita akan sering bertemu seseorang yang ketika melihat kita, seperti melihat sahabat lama yang lama tak jumpa atau seperti anak kandung yang baru pulang dari rantauan.  Ia akan menyuruh tinggal  lebih lama seperti pelukan yang sukar dilepas. Inilah yang membuat perjalanan kami amat berharga.  Bukan semata pekerjaan fisik yang kami lihat. Tetapi penerimaan orang-orang dan kebaikan-kebaikannya, nilai yang mereka beri terhadap kami yang akan membuat kami banyak belajar dan mengajak kami untuk sering pulang ke kampung, tempat di mana nilai-nilai itu ditanam dan diwariskan.

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Profil: Irwan Syamsir, lahir di Pambusuang, Polewali Mandar. Menyelesaikan Studi Sastra Indonesia di Universitas Mulawarman. Bergiat di kesenian dan literasi di Uwake’ Cullture Foundation dan Armada Pustaka. Tulisan-tulisan berupa cerpen, esal, feature, dan opini dimuat di Radar Sulbar, Sulbar Ekspress, Kaltim Post, Samarinda Post, Harian Fajar dan Cakrawala.

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RECORDING THE SWEAT OF MANDAR WOMEN

Author: Irwan Syamsir

A few months earlier, I was informed by a friend of a film studies major from Makassar who was going to shoot a documentary in Mandar to complete their final project. We met at the Tinambung market, in the middle of Ramadan and talked about the film project, which turned out to be about Towaine Mandar. Towaine, means woman in Mandarin. The meaning of woman, of course, is still general or universal. However, the nature, environment and culture in which women find themselves, greatly determines how they live and move throughout the day. So, this documentary was not only about women, but also about Mandar itself.

There are already several places we want to go. One of them is the Mandar River, a large river that stretches into a small town, called Tinambung, and whose upper stream is directly adjacent to Mamasa. It is at the bottom of this river that we meet the passau’ uwai women, which means water collectors. Massau’ or to collect water, is the daily work of Mandar women who in fact live around the river. Every day they leave home at the early hours of the morning, walk several kilometers, each carrying approximately one hundred jerry cans, which they will fill until noon and then return home by drifting away while pulling the hundreds of jerry cans, which they will sell to neighbours.

We decided to stay in the house of one of the passau’. A simple stilt house in the village of Ga’de, whose position is on the edge of the river mouth. We then got acquainted with Sa’dian, a woman who is quite persistent and has long been in her job as a water collector. It was Sa’dian who would take us to the river, where she and her mother, and the neighbours would collect water. That night, it rained heavily in Tinambung and its surroundings. “Maybe tomorrow we don’t go down to the river,” said the mother of Sa’dian. The water must be high and there is no place to make small wells. We encountered this weather several times which forced us to wait. But Sa’dian did not. While we were still asleep and the rain had stopped in the early hours of the morning, she went down to the river, on foot, carrying dozens of jerry cans, checking the tides. Eventually, she came home because the river really did rise after the rain. Usually, the jerry cans will be placed there, and the women will come back to collect them in the morning or before noon. It took several hours for Sa’dian, and the other women, to fill their hundreds of jerry cans before carrying them and themselves home.

On another day, we went down to the river early. We saw that Sa’dian was struggling to dig sand. Lots of sweat dripped from her forehead. The weather heavily influences the water conditions. She only spoke occasionally. As usual, Sa’dian smiled more often. When our cameraman flew the drone, Sa’dian chirped, “There’s a dragonfly”, and we all laughed. Once the day was approaching noon, we decided to go home early and wait for the Mandar women around the Tinambung bridge.

Not long after, we could see the tough Mandar women from afar. They swam using rubber tyres by their sides, pulling hundreds of filled jerry cans while wagging their hands and feet in the water. Sa’dian saw us setting up our cameras. She waved and greeted us very happily. Even though we knew she was so tired.. We had reminded Sa’dian to ignore the camera. But we knew it was a friendly wave. Hundreds of jerry cans were pulled by Sa’dian, her mother and neighbours. They sell them for only 500 rupiah per jerry can. It wouldn’t make sense in today’s economics. But, for them, it’s not just about wages. More than that, they value the river that has given them life.

The next trip we met other Mandar women who were not too far away from the others. In Oting, we met female potters. This pottery is the result of craftwork produced with earth that is processed manually to make stoves, and other kitchen utensils. Their task is quite difficult because the initial process involves digging up the soil that will be the material for making craftwork. The hardest process is heating the material. This is done to strengthen the pottery. In Mandar, everything is done manually and by the hands of women. “Well, our children can also finish school because of this work”, said one of them.

We visited them twice. First, to look at the pottery production and second, during the firing process. A number of pottery works were well arranged in a large yard and then covered with piles of wood, mostly from coconut trees. When we were recording it was difficult to get close because the fire was so strong. But these women in Oting, seem to be very used to it. They just covered their face with a sarong and take a closer position to fix the position of the wood. Once the fire has started to fall and the heat of the pottery has also been evenly distributed, they rest. We saw one of the women go to the house and come back with some food and also syrup that she brought with her child. It turned out that this woman had produced the pottery. So, the women in this village have their own pottery business, each of which has its own dedicated time to fire. She who gets a turn firing her pottery bears the responsibility of feeding the other women who help her. That’s how it goes. We also enjoyed their dishes. A number of traditional cakes they make just for the day of firing pottery. “Don’t be shy, we are all family,” the women told us. In fact, they also wrap the food to take home.

We then continued our journey to Pambusuang and intended to meet the women who weave Mandar silk. The day before, we gave word that we were coming and they were waiting for us. Making silk is also no less complicated a process than pottery. There are several stages that they have to go through until a sarong is really finished. We witnessed several stages. In silkmaking, there is something called sureq, which means motif. Each motif has its own level of difficulty when woven. Silk motifs are also a marker of the identity of the Mandar community, which decides when to wear each motif depending on what meeting they want to attend. Currently the price of silk has gone down in the market. There are only a handful of weavers. They work based on orders which, of course, are not always there. “This is what we can do and this is what our parents taught us,” said one of them.

We sat under a simple stilt house for about two hours. The sound of the wood clicking and the threads being twisted created quite an atmosphere in the middle of the village. Then we said goodbye and shook hands with them. One of our friends hugged one of the weavers, who was quite old but her spirit was still young. She cried as if she didn’t want to let go. In Mandar, we will often meet someone who, when they see us, feels like they are seeing an old friend who has not seen them for a long time or even a biological child who has just returned from overseas. They will tell you to stay longer. It’s like a hug that is hard to break. This is what made our trip so worthwhile. It was not just physical work that we saw. But it was the acceptance of people and their kindness. The value they give us, that will make us learn a lot and invites us to often return to the village, the place where these values ​​are sown and passed on.

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Profile: Irwan Syamsir, born in Pambusuang, Polewali Mandar. Completed Indonesian Literature Studies at Mulawarman University. He is active in arts and literacy at the Uwake’ Cullture Foundation and Armada Pustaka. His writing, in the forms of short stories, essays, features, and opinions are published on Radar Sulbar, Sulbar Express, Kaltim Post, Samarinda Post, Harian Fajar and Cakrawala.

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