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Sunday April 30th 2017

Hawu ‘(Kitchen) Fireplace’

Culture | Wednesday, 29 December 2010 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawe Setiawan

'Hawu' (photograph: Hawe Setiawan/SC)

My parents still use a hawu [hA-wU] ‘fireplace’ for cooking. It is installed in the kitchen of their house in a kampong of West Java. It is made of some bricks that are set one upon the other so that they form a sort of cube with a hole on its surface. Its function is just like that of a stove in present town houses. No fuel is needed. Instead, people use firewood to lit the fire. Smoke billows through every hole of the kitchen wall, rising like a message for neighbors that the household life is all right.

In my childhood I used to warm myself in front of the hawu nearly every morning. Such an act is called siduru [sI-dU-rU]. Our cats like to do so too. I also used to roast food, e.g. a cassava or a potato, in its hot ash.

When the government forced people to switch from kerosene to liquified gas, especially when the new mode of lighting a fire has been marked by several accidents that injured many people, hawu has apparently become an alternative. Worrying the possibility of LPG tube explosion, some humble people, mainly village residents, seemed to return to this traditional fireplace. Kerosene tends to disappear from marketplace, and it has become more expensive, while LPG is like a new terror. A hawu is apparently safer than a gas stove.

However, firewood is a little bit hard to be find nowadays.

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