Speaking about the wedding culture from Central Java, paes is one of the most crucial elements that need detailed preparations. Paes is finery for the brides that is applied from the forehead to the hair. The paes curves on a forehead are called cengkorongan. Yogyakarta and Solo are two regions which have been known for its wedding paes. In general, paes uses black pidih, except Solo's paes basahan which applies a green color.
Bridestory spoke to Isti Rahayu, a paes artist in Jakarta who has been recognized under the name Yayuk Paes. Isti Rahayu, often known as Yayuk, revealed that in old days, paes was made out of pidih (a type of wax). However, most of modern paes artists prefer to use eyeliner nowadays because it is safer for the skin, especially sensitive skin. Beside technical matters, Yayuk also gladly explained the anatomy of paes and their meanings. Those philosophical meanings are actually the representatives of a marriage foundation.
This curve is the biggest, and applied in the middle of the forehead like a U letter. Gajahan (in paes Solo, image above) or panunggul (paes ageng) is inspired by the shape of a mountain and symbolizes Trimurti (three energies from a sole god). This curve is a refelction of a hope that a women's dignity is raised after she is married.
For paes basahan and paes putri Solo, the curve is more significant, while on paes ageng is slimmer, and on paes putri Yogyakarta, its tip is pointed.
A shape similar to a diamond is drawn onto the forehead and between the eyebrows. Reflecting the eyes of God Siwa as the center of mind and ideas, citak represents a hope on a smart, intuitive, decent woman. Citak is applied on all kinds of paes, except paes putri Solo.
On the right and left side of gajahan/panunggal, there are two curves with sharp tips. Known as pengapit, this shape symbolizes controllers of gajahan/panunggal. It tells an advice that the bride and groom have to live life based on a noble purpose, even though challenges in marriage are inevitable.
Beside pengapit, there are a couple of penitis. This pointed curves that are smaller than gajahan/panunggal represents that everything in a marriage has to have a purpose and work on it effectively, including financial managing.
Near the ears, the bride will be applied with small curves called godheg. As a wisdom symbol, godhed is a reminder for the couple to always self-introspect, and also a wish for offsprings.
Every curve on paes ageng (above) is filled with dragonfly shapes to emblematize a couple has to be tenacious in life. Then, golden lines framing all the black curves are also the characteristic of paes ageng.
To add, below are some details of a Javanese bridal makeup which is as important as the paes.
A deer, or menjangan in Javanese, inspires the bridal makeup of paes basahan and paes ageng. The brows are shaped like the animal's horn to represent an attitude of agility, cleverness, and elegance, just like the deer, in handling the marriage issue.
Bokor mengkurep updo
A Yogyakarta bride will wear a bokor mengkurep updo which is then filled with a slide of pandan leaf and jasmine. It creates a fragrant hairdo. The bride is expected to be a potential individual that brings the good name of her country. On paes ageng, three corsages in red, yellow, and blue (or green), called jebehan, is applied as a symbol of Trimurti. For paes putri Yogyakarta, the hairdo is added with floral embellishments on two sides.
Bangun tulak updo
The updo for putri paes Solo and paes basahan reflects an unfortunate reinforcement, so the marriage stays away from perils and menaces. A peacock ornament is sometimes added, and sunggar backcombing is applied close to the ears as a wish that a bride should always be a good listener.
Gajah ngoling braid
Beside bokor mengkurep updo, some parts of the hair on paes ageng are let fall 40 cm onto the right and given a jasmine adornment. On some brides, the braid is added with a pandan leaf and covered with jasmine, without the hair. Called gajah ngoling, this braid means purity in living a sacred marriage.
Tibo dodo braid
For paes Solo, the bride wears a hairpiece called tibo dodo. Similar to gajah ngoling, this braid is made of jasmine put on the head until the hip for paes putri Solo (above), and until the thigh for paes basahan. At the end of the braid, a champaca flower bud is pinned.
Yayuk admitted that drawing cengkorongan is one of the most challenging parts since it has to adjust the shape of the bride's head, so the curves are proportional. The sunggar backcombing should also be done carefully and attentively. Since doing a paes needs high accuracy, it takes 1,5 hours to finish it in general.
For all the Javanese brides-to-be, go find your paes artist on Bridestory!