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Jakarta Post

Roving barbers a cut above the rest

Wed, May 30, 2018   /   03:14 pm
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    Groom it: Sarjono shaves a customer. JP/ Boy T Harjanto

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    Still surviving: Sarjono has been working as aroving barber since 1984. JP/ Boy T Harjanto

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    Tools of the trade: Scissors and razors to cut customers' hair. JP/ Boy T Harjanto

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    nice view: Widodo cuts the hair of a customer against the backdrop of the Prambanan temple. JP/ Boy T Harjanto

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    Perfect spot: The roadside leading to the market is a convenient location for customers needing a haircut. JP/ Boy T Harjanto

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    Closing time: Sarjono cleans his temporary base before calling it a day. JP/ Boy T Harjanto

Boy T Harjanto.

It was legi (the first day) in the Javanese five-day week when pasaran (the cyclic trading activity) took place at the Prambanan market in Central Java.

The rain that fell the previous night had some impact on the market’s atmosphere. It was less crowded than usual.

On the roadside, against the backdrop of an old building, two barbers were cutting and trimming the hair of customers who were visiting the market, which opened on the first day and pon (the third day) on the Javanese calendar.

Sarjono and Widodo are among the few roving barbers. Locally, they are known as pithingan. They have dedicated their lives to being mobile barbers amid mushrooming hipster barber shops and hairdressing salons.

“There used to be 16 barbers offering their services along this road and their businesses were doing well,” said Sarjono, pointing to the market’s entrance.

He started working as a barber around 1984, when over a dozen were operating in the area, all servicing regular customers.

Now only two of them, Sarjono and Widodo, are maintaining that tradition. They charge a modest fee of Rp 5,000 (36 US cents) for a haircut.