Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | 23:18 WIB

Sweet heritage: a traditional sugarcane grinder at the foot of Mount Singgalang

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Jakarta, IO – The traditional process of producing brown sugar with buffalo power is rarely found any longer. Despite rapid modernization and the replacement of human labour with machinery, a traditional sugarcane grinder can be encountered at the foot of Mount Singgalang, precisely in Nagari Lawang, West Sumatra. Sugarcane has been the main commodity since the Dutch colonial era for the residents of Lawang, Agam Regency, West Sumatra. The community relies on sugarcane juice and buffalo labour to support their families. 

The traditional sugarcane grinder is handcrafted from two pieces of jackfruit tree wood carved into interlocking spirals. These spirals are unique, but they must connect correctly to revolve smoothly while in contact. The wooden shafts are powered by the brute power of a buffalo, who plods along and turns the mechanism. To keep the buffalo moving and not distracted, its eyes are covered with coconut shells and a piece of cloth. The buffalo rotates and powers the wooden grinder. Workers in front of the grinder insert split sugarcane stalks. As the stalks are crushed, the sugarcane juice drips into a collection bucket. 

Read: Kasteel Batavia: A Forgotten Historical Building

Not only is the traditional sugarcane grinder used to produce brown sugar but it has also become an interesting tourist attraction for being exotic and rare.

(IO/Muhammad Hidayat)

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