Stranger in Paradise: Ubud’s First Family of Royal Indokrupuk
Ubud’s First Family of Royal Indokrupuk
Tjok Sri Maya Kerthyasa and her husband Marcus Tesoriero praying at the Puri Ibah family house temple (Pamitan ritual: Maya taking leave of her ancestors).
“Indokrupuk” means mixed blood or half caste. It is my favourite word in the Indonesian (slang) language because so many of my good friends are indokrupuks. Bali’s undisputed first family of indokrupuk are the Kerthyasa-Gillespies of Ubud. Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa, the patriarch, is a senior member of Ubud’s royal family. His wife Asri (daughter of a former private secretary to the N.S.W. Governor) is a firebrand in Bali’s hotel, restaurant and charity worlds. Their children are all accomplished and gentle-natured and drop-dead gorgeous. One son, Tjok Gus, even married a Jakarta film star! Last month, representatives from Ubud’s Rent-a-prince and Gay Rotary Ubud community, all gathered at Ibah Warwick, the Kerthyasa-owned hotel, for a blessing ceremony for the wedding of Tjok Sri Maya Kerthyasa and her Australian husband Marcus Tesoriero.
Tjokorda Gede Mahatma Putra Kerthyasa
Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa (Tjok Ibah), family patriarch
31 January 2016: A very special afternoon at Ibah Hotel. Puri Saren Palace has a tradition of pale-faces marrying into the palace: during the early 1950s one of Tjokorda Kerthyasa’s uncles took a French wife and they had a son name Tjokorda Gerard. The neighbouring palace of Peliatan has taken a few Japanese wives; in the Karangasem Palace, Dutch wives are popular. Today the Ibah hotel’s palace quarters are like the United Nations within Anglo-Saxons and Balinese predominant. The late visionary Bukminster-fuller famously said, “By the year 2050, everyone will be tea-coloured.” I move around documenting the ceremonies and the fashion like a bull in a China shop.
The newlyweds, in purple brocade (songket) skirt cloths and contrasting chemise, look gorgeous. Asri, in a power palace-aunty outfit, and sporting a silver bun, flutters about entertaining the western guests as she leads her daughter through the complicated rituals. Even the ceremony’s topeng mask dancer is speaking Balinese with an Australian accent. High in the prince’s pavilion, Cokorda Putra, the Ubud royal family patriarch, surveys the scene with affection: it was his father who befriended painter Walter Spies in the 1930s, an act which lead to Ubud’s reputation as refuge for Western artists. The Balinese are incredibly accepting and hospitable, to the point of extending their whole culture, the world’s most glamorous, to include our participation. Jero Asri is a mega-success — as both businesswoman and mother. As a palace wife, married to Bendesa (cultural head) of the town, she has shown great poise and polish. I salute you, Jero!
22 January 2016: To the Pond Restaurant, Pengosekan to open a show by a group of talented Balinese photographers For years I have followed my mates at the Denpasar Photographers’ Club in documenting special ceremonies in the (mainly) Kuta/Denpasar area. Their leader, Linggar Saputra Wayan of Kuta, is an amazing photographer and great fun to be with at ceremonies: his sense of humour — while enjoying the ‘invisible’ status of the ceremony paparazzi — is unique. He sees the lighter side of trancing and religious spectacle.
I first met Linggar through admiring his work on Facebook. This lead to sharing info on rare ceremonies. Many in the group are momentologists — documenting the ceremony’s climax. I try to cover the full story. I am more photo-journalist than art photographer but these chaps routinely capture the magic moment, after the spirit of legendary Frence photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Taum Sardika’s photograph of boys bathing
The opening of ‘Pregina’ at the Pond, Pengosekan
M 9 Moto plus one
In my brief opening speech, I remind the gathering of the importance of photograpy in Bali’s emergence as a cultural phenomenon. It was Gregor Krause’s 1918 photography book on Bali that first alerted Europe to the beauty of the island’s people. E. Hoppe’s work for Life magazine in 1929; Swedish Rolf De Maré’s dance videos in 1934; Rose Covarrubias’ extensive coverage in 1936; Cartier-Bresson’s work in 1948. Hans Hofer’s publishing Guide to Bali in 1970 was pivotal; and today, American John Stanmeyer, Swiss Pier Poretti, and many talented Indonesian photographers (Rio Helmi, Gustra, Rama Surya and the M9moto Club) keep up the tradition. The boys give me a wall clock with my image on it and I take my first ever welfie (group selfie) with a tongsis (tongkat narsis) selfie stick.
Photograph of the trance ceremonies at Pura Selumbung Karangasem Photo by I Ketut Budi Pertamayasa