High honour the highlight of Indonesian field trip

6 June 2012 – from Monash Memo

(L-R) The Bupati of Way Kanan Hi Bustami Zainudin, Ibu Bupati, Dr Rina Marlina Bustami, Professor Margaret Kartomi and Dr Karen Thomas in Blambangan Ump

A Monash University staff member and alumna have just returned from their second field trip to Lampung Province, Sumatra, at the invitation of Way Kanan’s Regional Head Bupati Hi Bustami Zainudin S.Pd.

The School of Music – Conservatorium’s Professor Margaret Kartomi and alumna Dr Karen Thomas spent their time investigating, photographing and recording a series of exquisite traditional Lampung dances, including some by girls wearing long golden fingernails, men wielding large fans, the art of self-defence, forms of mask theatre, and bamboo and bronze instrumental ensembles.

Their photographs and accompanying text will appear in an art book titled The Beauty of Lampung’s Performing Arts: Then and Now.

A highlight of their journey was an elaborate ceremony at which the Bupati on advice from the Lampung Council of Adat Leaders (MPAL) conferred the Order of Highest Cultural Knowledge on Professor Kartomi and the Order of Model Leadership of the Community on Dr Thomas in Blambangan Umpu.

Professor Kartomi said she was extremely honoured to receive the order.

“These awards will help forge a closer relationship between Monash University and leaders and artists in Lampung, and build on the past half-century of research and teaching about Indonesia at Monash,” Professor Kartomi said.

Dr Thomas said they were particularly grateful to Lampung’s Governor Sjachroeddin ZP, Bupati Bustami Zainudin and the Lampung Council of Adat Leaders for their moral and material support.

“We look forward to welcoming these leaders, artists, and staff of Lampung University to Monash University for a symposium and exhibition on Lampung arts later this year,” Dr Thomas said.