We found many lupaklupak. The search was delicious. Suddenly we became aware of the structure of rice field irrigation. We saw many little waterfalls that we had never noticed before. We learned to see a micro-beauty in Muara that had been there all the while we had focused our prime attention on the panoramas. Our search took us down roads where I think that tourists seldom go and Restuala even took us to a rather large waterfall hidden in the woods where we saw and enjoyed the gurgle of the stream. What a way to make a film!
|Restuala showed us what lupaklupak look like in the sawah
and then we looked for rainbows. It turned out to be as
successful as looking for a pot of gold.
This time she also took us to the village and house where she had been born (a carved and painted original Batak house on stilts). She showed us pictures of her mother, who passed away in 2008, and her grandmother who would have been born around 1900. Her grandmother’s photo was reminiscent of so many that had been taken during the colonial era, a nice posed black and white shot of the whole family gathered around the grandmother and grandfather seated in the middle.
|Ompu Okta's grandmother is sitting in the middle with an ulos over her shoulder.
OmpuOkta herself is the child sitting first on the right, cross legged, in the foreground.
This is what she could remember:
The leaves of a mountain tree (hau dolok) called haramonting as well as saduluk and other plants were mixed together with water and boiled in a clay pot (like the one used for indigo dyeing). The water in the pot turned rather red.
The pot was then taken to the rice fields, to the butak: runny mud beside the river. A hole was carved out and the mud heaped up in the middle. Yarn was put in this natural "pot". When well permeated, the yarn was taken out of the clay pot and “planted” in the mud (she called this sigira as well) and pushed down in it so that it would become well-permeated with the mud. The liquid in the clay pot was added to the lupaklupak, as she called it!!!! and this was the reddish “rainbow” in the lupaklupak. The whole process might be repeated three times until the colour was deep enough. This is a colour that won’t fade, Ompu Okta said, extolling is virtues proudly while shaking her head disparagingly about modern, synthetic colours.
Now, I am not positive that I have recorded all of the details of what Ompu Okta said exactly correctly and I would like to go back and check them with her without too many other people and goings-on around us, but I do feel confident that in sitting with her in front of her house in the village, we had stumbled upon the rainbow in the hole in the rice fields that the Rangsa ni Tonun text referred to. The connection with dyeing couldn’t be stronger. It was the critical moment when the red mixture was added to the mud and the dye solution could work its magic on the yarn.