mountain guide

An ongoing visual guide to the myths of the mountain — from infographics and historical references to editorials of our wearable memories.

 

Macan creatures in Wayang (between 1900-2004) 

Wayang theatre has a special place in Javanese culture. Shadow puppet performances evolve through time by juxtaposing ancient epics with contemporary societal concerns. Wayang performances date back to at least 930 A.D. but were likely part of communal life many generations before that date. 

The tiger is a supporting actor within the frequently performed epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Tigers in Wayang are sentient beings and regarded as guardians of the forest. As visualised in this series the appearance of these mythical creatures vary widely — from white tigers to half-human creatures.


(May 2021, source: Tropenmuseum and Andreas Siagian)

Memorabilia: Postage Stamps

The collection of images above function as symbolic references for our Memorabilia series. How can historical memorabilia (such as coins and stamps) reimagine and re-evaluate flora and fauna taken for granted today? The Postage Stamp hoodie is our interpretation of historical postage stamps that circulate symbolic representations of endangered species.

(April 2021)

Memorabilia: Coin

Our next drop questions ‘memorabilia’, which are objects that represent memorable phenomena. How can an object embody the presence of the vanished Javan tiger? And how do symbolic values of rare species often intertwine with monetary values? Creating objects that symbolise memorable flora and fauna helps to spread awareness, whilst the rarity and collectibility of such memorabilia transform them into forms of value. Memorabilia expose two sides of the same coin. 

Our COIN sweater interprets a rupiah coin from Indonesia featuring a Javan tiger. This unique coin was launched around 1974 by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness for endangered species. We digitally translated this historical memorabilia to reimagine and re-evaluate flora and fauna taken for granted today. 

(March 2021)

Caterpillar

Closer to nature, the caterpillar sweater arises from the other-worldly textures of flora and fauna — from forest floors covered with moss to fuzzy tiger manes. The so-called 'caterpillar' technique decorates this sweater with a rare plush embroidery, consisting of fuzzy white loops. By embroidering these two words on a garment, we aim to materialise the mythical place we hold dear: Macan Mountain.

On 35 mm, 120 mm and diafilm, shot by: Joost Bremmers

Model: Niels Reinders

(December 2020)

Vanishing Macan

Once, Macan roamed carefree on the island of Java. Their natural habitat spanned the area’s entire length, thriving on the Western shores and forests of Ujong Kulon up to Gunung Raung’s volcanically-sculpted surfaces in the East. Human encroachment and poaching quickly destructed Macan’s ability to move freely. As a last resort, the Striped One vanished into the remote and rugged mountains of Meru Betiri. Rumour has it that this subspecies has been spotted again several times. Where and when these tiger encounters took place (perhaps, luckily) remains a mystery.

(December 2020)

Island Tigers

The Indonesian Islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali were once home to distinct tigers. These subspecies evolved differently from other tigers due to the unique and isolated habitat of each place. The narrower stripes of these island tigers provide the perfect camouflage to mimic light reflections on the forest floor. While their smaller bodies allow agility when moving through dense jungles and fast-changing terrains.

(November 2020)

Tiger Subspecies of the World


The science of classifying species into distinctive groups (taxonomy) is a questionable process. At times, differences between tigers tend to be marginal, while later on considered significantly unique.

Taxonomy is a human construct, rooted in colonial history, used to systematise and (ultimately) control nature. But figures and facts cannot fully account for the mythical and dynamic aspects of nature. In 2015, National Geographic reviewed that the extinct Caspian tiger became too closely related to Siberian tigers. Were previous examinations inaccurate or did these tigers evolve towards each other? Can one subspecies live on in another? Is “extinct” forever?

Note: the Caspian, Javan and Balinese tiger are currently labelled as extinct. Others are on the verge of extinction.

(November 2020)

Jawa Tee / Virtual Forester

A modest ode to a mythical island. Visualising Java’s natural contours of volcanic craters and mountainous forests. Worn by our virtual forester, the guide to mountain myths.

(September 2020)

Jawa's Natural Surface

Instead of frequently seen maps of streets and cities, this topographical map visualises some of Java’s natural contours — from volcanic craters to forested cliffs. What mythical species are taking shelter at the crooks and crannies of this island?

(September 2020)

Violet Macan

As the Javan tiger got lost out of sight, how does clothing continue to embody its mythical presence?  Macan Mountain’s first chapter introduces its namesake inhabitant: the mythical Macan. Traces of the tiger are translated into illustrations on garments, turning them into wearable memories of Javanese myths.

Photographer: Patrick Ravoo

Models: Giulia and Sanno

(July 2020)

The Introduction

Macan Mountain is a place haunted by afterimages of mythical creatures. Among them is the Javan tiger, also known as Harimau Jawa or Macan (pronounced as ma-chan).

The Macan got lost out of sight in 1976 after humans forced them to flee to mountainous forests, where it vanished into extinction. Until recently, when reports and rumours suggested a potential resurrection. Did the Javan tiger reappear? Or does tiger media merely reflect the haunting presence of species pushed to extinction?

Macan Mountain's first chapter introduces its namesake inhabitant through illustrations on garments. Creating wearable memories of Javanese myths.

(July 2020)