November 17, 2022  •  7min read

The Divine Meaning of Paes – a Javanese Wedding Make Up

javanese wedding make up paes

If you’re interested in a Javanese-style wedding concept, then you need to know the bride’s makeup. And the typical ‘Javanese’ paes wedding hair and makeup are divided into two types: the Jogja ‘paes’ and the Solo ‘paes.’  So, what exactly are those?

What is the Javanese Paes?

According to the Indonesian dictionary, the term ‘paes’ means beautifying a bride’s forehead. This includes enhancing the eyes and eyebrows, cleaning hair on the forehead, etc. 

Paes Yogya is divided into six types:

  • Paes Ageng 
  • Paes Ageng Kanigaran
  • Paes Ageng Jangan Menir
  • Yogya Puteri
  • Pakualaman Temple
  • Ksatriyan Ageng

On the other hand, there are five kinds of Solo Paes:

  • Solo Basahan
  • Ratu Solo
  • Taqwa Solo
  • Langenharjan Solo
  • Mangkunegaran Solo

When we talk about the wedding culture of Central Java, the paes are one of the most important elements that need detailed preparations. Paes is a binary for brides that’s applied on their forehead to their hair. The paes curves on a forehead are known as cengkorongan. Both Yogyakarta and Solo wedding paes usually use black pidih, excluding paes baseman from Solo, which applies a green color. 

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Patterns of Paes Yogya and Solo

Now that you understand a little about the traditional paes let’s look at the basic patterns in detail.

Gajahan or Panunggul

Gajahan or panunggul in paes Solo is inspired by the shape of a mountain and symbolizes Trimurti (Energy from the three Jindu Gods). This large U-shaped letter is applied in the middle of the bride’s forehead. This curve reflects the hope that the bride’s dignity will rise after marriage.

Paes basahan and paes putri Solo presents a bigger curve, while the paes ageng is slimmer and the tip is pointed for the paes putri Yogyakarta.


The citak is shaped like a diamond drawn on the forehead and between the eyebrows. This shape reflects the eyes of God Siwa as the source of a clear mind. Therefore, the city symbolizes intelligence, intuition and a decent woman after marriage. This pattern is applied to all kinds of paes, except paes putri, Solo.


On both the right and left sides of the gajahan/panunggal, you’ll find two curves with pointy tips, known as pengapit. This pattern hopes to support the gajahan/panunggal patterns. In other words, even though the bride and groom will face new challenges throughout their marriage, they will live their lives based on a noble purpose. 


Penitis are found beside the pengapit. It’s a pointed curve shape smaller than gajahan/panunggal that symbolizes the purpose of marriage and how the bride and groom must do anything to fulfil it. This includes financial and family matters.


Small curved details are adorned near the bride’s ears, called godheg. This symbolizes wisdom and reminds the couple to always self-reflect on themselves. The godheg also wishes for offspring. 

Every curve on the paes ageng is filled with dragonfly shapes that symbolizes a couple’s need to be tenacious in life. Then, the black curves are adorned by golden lining framing, which is also characteristic of paes ageng.

Menjangan Brows

A deer, or menjangan in Javanese inspires the paes basahan and paes ageng bridal makeup. The brows are shaped into a deer’s horn, representing an attitude of agility, elegance and cleverness, just like a deer handling life after marriage. 

Now that you know the primary foundations of the Javanese ‘paes,’ let’s find out other questions you may have about this traditional makeup for brides.

The Meaning Behind a Javanese Bridal Makeup

Every part of the traditional Javanese ceremony has good intentions. In general, every part contains prayers and hopes for the couple to have a happy and fulfilled life, complete with God’s grace and blessings. 

Paes is not only makeup but also filled with specific meanings and hopes for both the bride and groom. Once married, both husband and wife must always remember their roles and manage their household responsibly. 

Are There Rituals for Brides Before the Wedding?

A bride should be able to control her desires, which means it should be possible for her to calm herself and pray that her wedding will run smoothly. Maintaining her physical and spiritual health is the most important thing for a bride. This can be done by fasting a week before the wedding. 

They should also stop having beauty treatments at least a month before the wedding day to avoid rashes and any skin problems. 

A healthy body keeps brides looking beautiful and glowing from the inside and out. It’s also important to pay attention to the products and techniques applied during the makeup to ensure that the overall makeup stays neat and gorgeous till the end of the wedding ceremony and reception.

Adding a Modern Touch to a Traditional Bridal Look

We recommend sticking to traditions, especially if there’s a sacred ceremony included in your wedding. However, if there aren’t any ceremonial processions, you can opt for a more modern look, according to the bride’s request. 

Some brides may prefer the classic and simple traditional look. But for others, you can always choose the outfit that follows the newest trends that are currently popular and create a chic fusion of classic and modern. But keep in mind that the paes itself shouldn’t be modified by any means.
When finding a traditional makeup artist, make sure to find one who understands the ceremonial wedding traditions of your culture, as every part of Java has different traditions and customs. This is mainly for you who don’t fully understand traditions.

Guntur author at Bali Wedding
Guntur has been writing tips and tricks for weddings in Bali since 2020. He has written everything from preparing a pre-wedding in Bali to the best wedding dress and makeup you should choose for a wedding in paradise.

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