PEMAES - Javanese Traditional Bridal Beauticians

She was born in Yogyakarta in 1924, has become a Pemaes since 1956. She has written a book of "Yogyakarta's pattern of BRIDAL MAKE UP" in 1977. This valuable book has been reprinted six times. She has inherited this profession from her grand mother, the late Raden Ayu Notodigdoyo, a Pemaes of Yogyakarta palace. She was also a Bedoyo (court sacred dancer) of Yogyakarta Karaton when she was a young girl and a member of KRIDO BEKSO WIROMO, a court dance organization. One of the most unforgotable experience happened years ago when public transport system was not as good as at present. She was accompanied with her husband to make up a bride in a Sentolo hilly village, west of Yogya. In the afternoon, after the ceremony was over, there was no more public bus to go home. The place was about seven KM from the small town of Sentolo. So what's the solution? She and her husband had to walk down the seven KM road to Sentolo, while her beauty case was carried on the back of bicycle by a villager.

From Sentolo, they had to find a lift in a truck, in a midnight travel of 15 KM distance to Yogyakarta.

Above everything else, her experience when she was given chances by his Royal Highness, the late Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX to perform her expertise in the court wedding ceremonies should be kept as an honorable and proud remembrance in her life.

The seminars in Pagelaran of Karaton in 1989 and 1990 with the subject of bridal make up of the Yogyakarta palace remains a sweet devotion during her career.

Now, in her 75 years of age, she is still active and adroit and devoted to her profession. To be a successful and respected Pemaes, here are her advice to younger generation of Pemaes:

  1. Discipline
  2. Polite and respect others-In the job performance should wear a polite Javanese dress.
  3. Wise
  4. Follow the pattern properly, as an appreciation to valuable culture and a hope the bride and groom should have a proper life.
  5. Give an example of good behaviour.

Today, the 69 years old friendly Empu Pemaes which looked much younger than her age is still active performing her natural profession. She has started as a Pemaes in her early 20's. It was an inner call which she believes as a heaven's inspiration. Since her childlhood, she was accostumed to do spiritual deed. The lineage of Mangkunagaran court family and the tranquil surroundings in the house where she lived have opened her way to determine her course of life. She had consumed only minimal amount of white rice and pure drinking water (in Javanese: Mutih) for 45 consecutive days and had prayed a lot, she heard a clear voice during her dream that she was permitted to become a Pemaes with one condition: she would do it mainly to make other people happy, not allowed to think and do only for her own benefit.

After this inspiration, her career developed fastly. She did not remember how many brides and grooms she had made up. She always performs her job seriously and in the right manner, no matter the clients are ordinary people or families of ministers. She believes it is a sacred societal noble tradition. During her more than four decades of devotion, she has also thought a lot of younger women to be Pemaes, among other are her own daughters Mrs. Anna S. Hudoko and Mrs. Yani B. Wahono. She was always involved in the wedding ceremonies of the Mangkunagaran Royal Families. Her expertise in this field, have made her to be invited as speaker to many seminars in Surakarta and other places of the country. Deep from the bottom of her heart, she would like to suggest to the Javanese mothers to conserve this noble tradition strongly. It should be wise if they know the meaning of the ceremony, they should know how to make sajen / offerings etc.

Up to present, the most personal impressive experience in her career happened when she was entrusted by the Mangkunagaran Palace to make up the wedding of Princess G.R.AY. Retno Astrini with a Malaysian gentleman K.P.H. Tunku Abubakar. It was a complete grand court wedding ceremony, she would never forget.

For Mrs. Tinoek Tien Rahajoe Rifki, her coronation as the number one Pemaes of this country nowadays was due to hard work and a long time of learning. It was not an easy road to success, but patience and adoration to the art of traditional bridal make up had overcome all obstacles she had to face. And at present . She is known as the Pemaes of the V.I.P. families and also of Yogyakarta Royal palace.

As a teenager, Tinoek was joining KRIDA BEKSA WIRAMA court classical dance club. She took also courses to be a beautician, and indeed she was successful and has a beauty parlor of her own. Her passionate love to the art of Javanese bridal make up, has pulled her to learn this noble art and valuable cultural inheritance.
She should never forget the way how she acquired this knowledge. In 1976 with right inner feeling she become intern to an Expert-Pemaes Mrs. SOSRONEGORO. She knew very well that under this Guru's guidance, she could develop her skill properly to mastering with proficiency the art of bridal make up and also the performance of its wedding ceremonies. She followed all guru's instructions obediently and followed wherever she went to make up brides, in different cities and villages across Java. It was a really tough dedication which both the guru and the assistant enjoyed with full devotion.

The late Mrs. SOSRONEGORO, her guru although from noble family, she had a reputation of being close with little and ordinary people. "People has to help each other" was her motto. Of course she performed also bridal make up for local dignitaries as well as for the Karaton of Yogyakarta. Her father, Kanjeng SOSRONEGORO was a great artist of Yogyakarta royal palace during the reigns of Sultan Hamengku Buwono VII and VIII. She was brought up by her uncle, Patih (first Minister of the Sultan) DANUREJO (Wonocatur) who was also a great artist.

Mrs. Tinoek Rifki as a Javanese born in Yogyakarta in 1950, believes that GURU MUST DIGUGU and DITIRU means to be trusted and followed. A guru has to be respected like own parent. Meanwhile she took part in several contest of bridal make up of different patterns, she was winner for patterns: Yogya Corak Putri and Paes Ageng and also for Bugis (south Sulawesi) bridal make up. She can make up also brides of Betawi (Jakarta) and Sunda (west Java). She has learned perfectly the art of Javanese traditional bridal make up from her Guru, including secret matters. The Guru before she passed away said: "Tinoek, I have not performed bridal make up in the V.I.P. family of the country, but you with my blessing you would do it". "Last thing, you have to improve your ability by learning from the direct source i.e. the Karaton.

Mrs. Tinoek Rifki, since then has performed a lot of bridal make up, not only in the country but going world wide such as Holland, England, Japan, U.S.A, Australia etc.
Except bridal make-up and ritual wedding ceremonies, she masters also other related Javanese rituals. As an expert in her field, she is also taking active part in several seminars, participating in bridal make up and wedding shows here and abroad. Her school of beauty. TITISARI is part of her contribution to conserve culture and tradition. New generation of younger Pemaes has to be prepared properly. She had done with some duties assigned to her by Karaton of Yogyakarta, among other:

  1. Coordinator for traditional make up for the coronation of Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X in 1989.
  2. Pemaes of the wedding ceremony of the daughter of Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X in 1994.
  3. Pemaes of the wedding ceremony of two sons of the late Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX in 1997.
Despite her extreme tight schedule, she always manages to have time with her beloved family, without them she would not be as successful as now.

Just recently, a new talented Pemaes emerges in Yogya. More and more people ask her service to make up brides. The elegant woman in her 50's, just starts her profession in the last four years. In fact the world of Pemaes is very closed to her since her childhood as she is a daughter of the late Mrs. SOSRONEGORO. As a teenager, she was a famous classical dancer from KRIDO BEKSO WIROMO, a court dance group of Karaton. She was a member of the Presindential Cultural Mission, who had been sent to perform Javanese classical dance in Japan and Cambodia etc.
Years she remains as a good housewife, her eldest daughter is now a doctor, number two is an Engineer, the other two are university students. She was not interested at all to be a Pemaes. It is a complicated job. But accidentally she met her child friend, Tinoek, at her latter school of Pemaes. Thus she learned bridal make up from Mrs. Tinoek Rifki, who is now the best Pemaes in the country. Now she is occupied with this profession. Sometimes is very busy but enjoyable.

(Suryo S. Negoro)

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