Tepas, the collection of the Yogyakarta Cultural House Tembi Museum

Tepas is a cooking aid that functions to turn on the flame in the stove, whether it is charcoal, wood or the like. The function of this kitchen utensil is very important, namely to make dishes cook quickly. For this reason, it is appropriate, including the kitchen utensils that are always present to accompany the stove. Not only that, sometimes tepas is also used by Javanese people to speed up cooling of hot dishes so that they are quickly served or eaten, for example rice that is still hot, side dishes of godokan that are still hot, and so on.

Usually, the tepas known to the Javanese community is a rectangular tepas, with one side like a triangle where a handle made of bamboo or rattan can be placed. The handle is generally placed in the middle on one side protruding inward. Tepas itself is made of woven bamboo of various sizes; small, medium, and large. Small size about 15 cm x 20 cm, large size up to 30 cm x 45 cm.

Small size tepas are often used to light charcoal fires in small braziers. While the large size tepas are used for large braziers with the same fuel. Sometimes it is also used to light the extinguished fire in other traditional stoves, such as dhingkel and wood-fired coolants.

Madurese also know tepas made from the same raw material, one of which is to burn satay. The shape of the skewers is generally also rectangular. However, the bamboo brush is thicker so it is more durable. For the handle, the satay is usually placed on the edge on one side of the field. So the shape is like a flag placed on a pole.

Javanese people have known tepas since hundreds of years ago. There are at least 3 Javanese dictionaries that record traces of exact terms. First, the Old Javanese-Indonesian Dictionary by PJ Zoetmulder (1995, page 1260). The ancient Javanese used to call tepas with tipas. This can be traced from an Arjunawiwaha text in Old Javanese, the excerpt is as follows: “Ikang kadi rare pinehan anulak jaja kangelihan anggetel karesnya hand while only tinipasan padha ni sirit fishang samangkana”. The term tipas in the new Javanese language means tepas ‘fan’.

Second, a Javanese dictionary called Baoesastra Djawa by WJS Poerwadarminta (1939, page 597). In the dictionary it is explained that tepas means (in Indonesian) is a fan (ilir) whose handle is used to light (speed) a fire. The third is the Javanese-Indonesian Bausastra Dictionary by S Prawiroatmojo (1995 edition 2, page 245). In the dictionary, tepas (Javanese) means fan (in Indonesian).

Based on the three dictionaries, it is clear that tepas is one of the kitchen tools that functions to light a fire, which has been known for hundreds of years. Although its existence has begun to decrease at this time, tepas are still sold in bamboo craft centers, in markets and in traditional stalls.

Source: Tembi