Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Malabar Market

The birds in the cardboard cages at the Malabar Sunday market have been painted like Easter eggs: all bubblegum and aquamarine.
This particular Sunday market is held in the woodland of the Malabar tea estate, south of Bandung, Java. Goods are laid on blankets on the woodland soil or hung from string wound round tree trunks. Old men hand-spin candy floss for children with chipped-teeth smiles. There is something of Midsummer Night's Dream here in the dappled light of the woodland set.
Hanging from a wooden bar are tiny birdcages made from used tea boxes, mesh, and staples. Pecking at and grasping onto the mesh are some of the smallest birds in Indonesia.

"They are burung pipit," calls out the bird seller, reclining on a grassy bank."I caught them with a net."
"Why have you painted them?"
"To make them more interesting for children. Pink is the most popular colour."
His opening price is Rp 5,000 ($0.50) per bird.
Around the tea plantation are signs reading Dilarang Berburu - don't hunt.
"What can we not hunt?"
"Birds," replied Suhara, manager of the Malabar Mess.
"What about the birds being sold just here in the market?"
"Catching and selling birds is not the same as hunting and killing them. People buy the birds and then release them."