A kitchen utensil whose function is to stir and pick up vegetables that are being processed is called irus. This tool is never absent and must be in every household kitchen in rural and urban communities. But now, of course, the material for making irus has undergone many changes in accordance with technological developments.

Traditional Irus known by the Javanese people are usually made from coconut shells. Other materials used to make irus are bamboo or wood, as well as rope. However, nowadays we find irus in various other materials such as plastic, melamine, and metal.

Traditional irus still exist and are often found in traditional markets, traditional stalls and supermarkets. The existence of traditional irus competes with new artificial irus from more durable materials. However, that does not mean that traditional irus can’t compete with more modern irus.

Traditional irus are made in a simple way, and include small-scale household processed products. The craftsmen only need raw materials for coconut shells that have been mashed. The shell used to make a small irus is only about 1/6 of a whole coconut shell. Meanwhile, to make a large irus it must require half a whole coconut shell.

In addition to coconut shells that are flawless (cracked), the craftsmen also need bamboo or wood as handles for the irus. The sticks from bamboo or wood are made the size of your thumb and are about 20-60 cm long, depending on the size of the irus. Now there are many home industries that use lathes to smooth coconut shells and handles.

There are various sizes of irus, according to needs with a price range of Rp. 1,500-Rp. 5,000. Irus made of metal, such as stainless steel, is certainly more expensive.

Irus traditional collection of the Yogyakarta Cultural House Tembi Museum

In ancient times, irus was stored in various ways, including tucked in between wooden racks, or placed in bamboo with holes in the top. This method is effective rather than just being placed on the “lincak” or table in the kitchen. Because, there are times when accidentally, irus that is just placed in the “lincak” of the kitchen can be occupied so that it breaks. Likewise, if it is placed with other kitchen utensils carelessly, it can be crushed so that it is easily damaged. That is why irus must be preserved.

Until now, in Javanese society, there are still many traditional irus makers. One of them is in the Pucang Village area, Secang, Magelang, Central Java. In this area there are many artisans, one of which produces traditional kitchen utensils, such as irus, enthong, and solet. In addition to the Pucang Magelang area, the Kejawang Village area, Sruweng, Kebumen, Central Java also still produces traditional irus and siwur. There are actually many, irus makers in addition to these two areas.

It turns out that the Javanese people have long used the traditional irus as a kitchen utensil. At least the term irus has been recorded in a Javanese dictionary called “Baoesastra Djawa” by WJS Poerwadarminta (1939). On page 174 column 1 it is stated that irus is a scoop for taking vegetables and others made from coconut shells with a handle or “garan”, as it is called in Javanese.

Even long before, when the Javanese still used the Old Javanese language which was estimated to be used around the 9th century AD, the word irus had also appeared. This indicates that irus as a kitchen tool in Javanese society has emerged for hundreds of years.

The word irus in Old Javanese can be traced to the Old Javanese-Indonesian dictionary by PJ Zoetmulder (1995) translators Darusuprapto and Sumarti Suprayitna (Lecturer of Javanese Literature FIB UGM), on page 397 column 1. The word irus used at that time can be traced from a Javanese script, namely Wirataparwa, in particular which reads “(Bhima) mangindhit irus walakap”.

In its development, irus is also used as a medium to summon spirits called jaelangkung. In this jaelangkung dolanan, the irus is used as the head and body of the jaelangkung that is made up. While the “handle” functions for the body and is usually equipped with other accessories.

A mother is grinding chili sauce, and in front of her are traditional irus and other kitchen utensils

Until now, traditional irus have survived together with the existence of more modern irus made of stenlis, melamine, brass, aluminum, and other materials.

Source: Tembi 1 and Tembi 2

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