Kasongan, Earthen Ware & Ceramics Center, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Kasongan viilage is center of ceramics and earthenware, located in Yogyakarta. The occupation of the inhabitants are mostly as ceramic craftsment that make pot, vase, animal statue, chandelier, etc. The daily activities of Kasingan ancestor were squeezing clay that were unbreakable if the clay was attached to each other. Later they made children toys, and kitchen items and handed down from generation to generation until today. Kasongan is 20 minutes drive from Yogyakarta city, on a limestone mountains, notably as Kajen village.

In Kasongan, visitors can browse at show room of ceramics, and even visit the workshop to see the making process. The making started with rolling, and then shaping the item, drying the products that takes 2 to 4 days. The product then burnt, and then finished with paint. Craftsmen work collectively, in a gallery that they inherit from parents. Though the family business involving neighbors, but family is still responsible in selecting the material and production monitoring.

One of popular ceramics decoration items is Loro Blonyo, a pair of bride and groom sitting side by side in Javanese costume. Loro Blonyo is produced by Kasongan craftsmen adopting Loro Blonyo statue of Kraton Yogyakarta. Loro means two (or pair) and Blonyo means bathing process or dressed up. Loro Blonyo is believed to bring fortune and make family last forever if put inside the house. But foreign visitors love Loro Blonyo for its unique design, that usually they order other Javanese couple in many gesture, such as dancers. And sometimes they order dancer statue without Javanese costume, but typical costumes of various countries, or Balinese or Thailand costumes.

Horse was the indigenous ceramic design from Kasongan. There are various horse designs, but mostly ishorses that carried earthen wares with a box on the horses. Other animal designs are elephant, rooster, and frog. The horse inspiration derived from the old tale about Kasongan in Dutch colonialism. There was a horse of Dutch officer found dead on farmer’s land. The farmer was afraid that he would be punished, so he abandoned the land and moved away that was followed by other village dwellers. This land then occupied by other people, and they started to make earthenware.

Basically, earthenware making process can be divided into two. First by molding method, for mass producing. And second by shaping manually. For the later mentioned, for cylinder shape (vase, pot) is made by adding clay bit by bit on a rolling equipment. One hand shapes the clay on a spinning equipment, that will create cylinder shape.

Kasongan was introduced in 1970s by Sapto Hudoyo and then commercialized in big scale by Sahid Keramik in 1980s. Later, the design was getting richer in variations and motivees, not only children toys, monetbox animal or household items, but also peacocks and other animals that are made to order. Entering Kasongan gate, there are galleries along the street, that display ashtray, vase, pot, from small size to tall and bigger size. Those products not only have function but also as decorations.

Other handicraft other than earthen ware can be found in Kasongan, since the end of 20th century. This was influenced by new comers in Kasongan that produced crafts from coconut wood, dry plants, dry leaves or shells.

Market of Kasongan earthenware is 80 percent abroad and 20 percent for domestic market. Foreign market are Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, USA, Holland, etc. If in the beginning Kasongan is the production quarter, it grew as selling quarter as well.