VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Kukusan bambu
1953.20.5
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

One of the museum’s mission statements is to be receptive to and to collaborate with groups that represent objects in the collections. This applies to the interpretations and availability of the existing objects and in the collecting of new objects that highlights contemporary cultural meetings, conflicts and influences. In keeping with this, members of the local Indonesian community in Göteborg were asked to chose objects that they felt they could relate to and that carried a special personal inherent relevance to them. The kukusan bambu is traditionally made from interwoven bamboo strips. The changes in our lifestyle caused by modernization renders it increasingly difficult to find a traditional kukusan. They are not available in supermarkets and department stores. One has to look for it at a pasar (open market). Nowadays the kukusan is often made from aluminum. The cone shape of the tumpeng is reminiscent of the form of the volcanoes that are abundant in Indonesia, thus they symbolise the fertility of the soil. Like a volcano, rich crops symbolized by the side dishes surround the mound of rice. So, nasi tumpeng is used to express our thanks to God. For me, the dish reminds me of happy celebrations and family gatherings. Everyone at the “party” would be eager to take a portion of the rice, even though there were several other tasty dishes. Living abroad for many years, I sometimes miss the nasi tumpeng. For my birthday, my family in Jakarta still prepare nasi kuning (not in a cone-shaped) with its side dishes, even in my absence. Here in Sweden, I sometimes prepare nasi kuning using a rice cooker. Traditionally, of course, a steamer is used. In my opinion nasi kuning is more delicious than normal steamed rice, since it is flavoured with coconut milk and lemon grass.

History of the Object
The kukusan is used for a Javanese dish called nasi tumpeng (''nasi'' means steamed rice). For this dish, the rice is coloured in bright yellow by using tumeric root. Sometimes, nasi tumpeng is called nasi kuning (''kuning'' means yellow). The yellow rice cone is served on a round flat bamboo plate called tampah on a bed of banana leaves. The rice mound is surrounded by many small side dishes, for example, tempeh (fermented soya bean cake), fried chicken, sliced omelette, meat balls, abon (fried shredded meat) and urap (parboiled vegetables with grated coconut). The dish is also known in Bali. Both, Java and Bali have Hindu traditions. In the Hindu tradition the bright yellow colour holds a special significance. Nowadays the dish is also becoming popular in other parts of Indonesia.

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Type
Other 
Materials
Plaited plant fibres 
Measurements
Height 17 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Indonesia; Western part of Java 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; ca 1950 
Function
The kukusan bambu is a cone-shaped cooking tool for moulding steamed rice.  
Acquisition
Unknown 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Museum of World Culture, Sweden 
Museum
Museum of World Culture 
Credit line
 

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