Jakarta. Kadipaten Pakualaman, Yogyakarta's other, smaller royal court, held the Jemparingan Mataraman archery contest at Kridosono Stadium on Feb. 11 to celebrate the palace's 212th anniversary.
The name jemparingan refers to a traditional archery style where archers sit to aim that has been in existence since the Mataram Kuno era in the 8th century.
The late duke Pakualam VIII made jemparingan part of Indonesia's archery traditions when he established the Indonesian Archery Association (Perpani) in 1953.
He also entered archery as an official sport of the National Sports Week (PON) and registered Perpani as a member of FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc), the international archery association.
In ancient times jemparingan, rather like golf, was a game that Javanese knights and princes play to negotiate differences and work out a deal or a treaty.
The game used to be played in the palace yard in front of the pendopo (a wide open building to receive guests) where royalties would sort out strategies for war, political rivalries or business deals.
This is one of the reasons why jemparingan archers shoot their arrows while sitting cross-legged on the ground, to make it more comfortable for them to sit for a long time and conduct lengthy negotiations.
They also use a simple bow and arrows made of wood and bamboo, without a sight or a wind gauge.
The archers, called perambah, must also wear the traditional Javanese attire of a blangkon cap, long-sleeve batik or lurik shirt and a batik wraparound skirt.
The target used in jemparingan is not the modern circular target but a white pendulum around 30 centimeters long and 3 cm in diameter tied on a rope. This target is called a wong-wongan (mannequin) or Molo Abang.
It has a head (sirah), painted red, and a body (sandang), painted white. You get three points for hitting the head and one point if you hit the body.
The winner of the game is the archer who scores the highest points after 20 rounds. He will earn the title of titis (He Who Aims Correctly).
Many of the jemparingan archers say their aim improves immeasurably when they're in a good mood. But when their heart is full of anger or sadness, they'll invariably miss the target.
More than 600 archers, including 96 women, from all parts of Indonesia took part in the Pakualaman jemparingan.
They include archers from 41 archery clubs in Java, Madura, Bali and Kalimantan.