Arrow is not the only weapon for distant attack. Plintheng also takes part as a shooting device since long time ago. This weapon is actually similar to catapult, only with a different name and origin. This catapult is often used as a hunting device by the Javanese people because it’s quite. By making almost no sound, hunters with catapult will not scare the animal and cause them to run away. Although sometimes they use it in a battle as well.
The History of Plintheng
In Central Java nowadays, this kind of catapult is known as a child’s toy. However, this catapult has its own fascinating history. There was a group of men named Pandawa. Once, they managed to do meditation in a cave. While meditating, there was another group of men called Punakawan standing as their guard. Every member of Pandawa has a very soft and bright skin, which is a tasty quality for the spirit. So, the Punakawan’s duty is to protect them from being eaten.
The Punakawan was able to defeat any kind of spirit that attacked the, except the giant one. Once they almost lost, the leader of Punakawan which named Semar, got a sight from the God. The sight says that he must use a big stone to defeat the giant.
Semar managed to find the big stone, but he had no idea how to throw it toward the giant. Finally, Semar and the other members made an elastic weapon to throw the stone. They finally defeated the giant. Untill now, the weapon they used as an elastic thrower is the one remembered as Plintheng.
People in Wonogiri know this story really well as it is believed to happen in that town. There is even one place for tourism called Plintheng Semar. At that place, there stands a statue of Semar while holding something unusual. That unusual thing is believed to be the catapult itself.
This catapult is sometimes made from a Y-shaped tree branch that can naturally be found. But, when finding it just seems too hard, people make their own from a plain wooden stick. The shape the stick in a way so that it has a Y-shape in the end.
After the shape was made, the maker will take a used tire tube to make two rubber strings. Then, they tie both rubber strings to each of the Y-shaped stick’s arm. To make the fitting for the bullet, people usually used synthetic or real leather. Once the fitting is tied upon the two rubber strings, the catapult is ready to use.
Not many people know that this catapult can be lethal, at least for animal. If we use stone as the bullet and shoot a bird on a tree, we can cause it death. That’s why most people will use hardened clay instead of stone. Even if they are hunting in a forest, their shot might hit the wrong target and stone bullet is just too risky.
To make Plintheng even safer for use, children usually use a damped paper as their bullet. It’s strong enough to make pain, but not enough to make a bruise or wound.