Sunday, March 24, 2013

Back Story | The Kendang Player

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Here's another digital "wet-plate" portrait which I've just added to my The Digital Wet Plates gallery. This is actually #73 of the 100 portraits I plan on having on the gallery.

The above portrait is of a kendang player in Denpasar, Bali. The kendang is a double-sided membrane drum used Southeast Asia and India. It has been used since ancient times as evidenced by being depicted in ancient temples in Indonesia, especially in Borobudur and Prambanan temples. The Balinese play it on either one or both sides using a combination of hands or sticks.  During Balinese dances, the kendang player must follow the movements of the dancer, and communicate these to the other miscians in the group.

This portrait was made in July 2005, during one of the my first trips to Bali. I was driven to a temple (used as a theater for musical groups), and asked the musicians to pose for me along with their instruments. At the end of the session, I expected to be asked for money...after all, they were performers...but all they asked for was a cigarette. A non-smoker, I had none on me but later on, bought them a couple of packs of Marlboros.  The Balinese fixer I was with later told me that they would eventually exchange these for local kreteks; the Indonesian cigarettes made of tobacco and cloves.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

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