Diversity of Indonesian Puppets

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The length of time period of the existence of wayang in Indonesia can be seen from the diversity of wayang models, various plays, as well as the way and staging language. The world of shadow puppets has been mandarah meat in the community culture jatung. Maybe that's also what underlies UNESCO set puppets as native to Indonesia.

Wayang is one of the various cultural heritages of the past in Indonesia. Wayang is one of the cultural art works that stands out among many other cultural works. Puppet shows include acting, sound, music, speech, literature, painting, sculpture, and symbolism.

Listening to history, the culture of wayang seems to have continued to develop from time to time. Then it develops until it is used as a medium of social communication that can be useful for the development of supporting communities. The world of wayang shows a change in its function, from as a medium of worshiping ancestral rites, propaganda, enlightenment, to moral and ethical education, as well as philosophical understanding, as well as as mere entertainment media.

Interestingly, the art of wayang theater is noted to have survived over a period of centuries. Even though its existence can now be said to have been pressed by various other forms of modern entertainment, to this day the puppet still has a place in the hearts of the Indonesian people, especially in Java and Bali.

This phenomenon is at least reflected by the frequent wayang theater being held in formal and informal events, both by the public and government officials. In addition, it is also reflected in the ongoing process of regeneration of the mastermind profession, the main actor in the performing arts.

Right, if we talk about the history of the origin of shadow puppets, at least four major theories were discovered. This difference in theory or interpretation, apart from the lack of data from sources of past artifacts, also often arises because of different scientific disciplines used by experts to approach the problem.

Four theories or interpretations, first, the origin of the puppet is Java (Indonesia). Researchers who believe that hypothesis are JLA Brandes, GAJ Hazeu, J Kats, Anker Rentse, and so on. Secondly, wayang comes from India. Those who concluded the puppet theater came from India, namely R Pichel, Poensen, Goslings, and Rassers.

Third, the origin of wayang is a scout between Java and India. Call J Krom and WH Rassers, for example, arrive at these hypothetical conclusions. And finally or fourthly, wayang comes from China. The researcher who arrived at that conclusion was G Schlegel.

This paper does not intend to reveal the historical truth of the origin of wayang in Indonesia. Aside from the theoretical debate stemming from historical uncertainty - or what it is as a "debatable" aspect - is a normal phenomenon in any study of the social sciences of humanities, more than that the "debatable" aspect does not in fact reduce the meaning of the puppet position for Indonesian society.

Let it be, there are various interpretations and theoretical debates about the origin of wayang in Indonesia. Because the diversity of discourse or historical theory will actually enrich the public treasury, and in addition it also always presents its own challenges for academics to update research on the history of the puppet if in the field of history and culture new facts are discovered.

UNESCO hypothesis

However here there are interesting things to note. Since 7 November 2003, UNESCO has recognized the shadow puppet show as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In the synopsis, although it does not provide theoretical and historical justifications based on certain figures, UNESCO clearly recognizes this ancient storytelling art originating from Indonesia.

The age of the performing arts, according to UNESCO, is said to have developed for ten centuries in the royal palaces of Java and Bali, and has now spread to other islands such as Lombok, Madura, Sumatra, and Kalimantan. Listening to the number "ten centuries" as a choice of UNESCO looks at the history of the development of the puppet tradition, it is easy to guess, the assumption is based on the Balitung Inscription from the 10th century (903 AD).

In this inscription written inscription "The Galigi Mawayang For Hyang Macarita Bimma Ya Kumara". This sentence means "Galigi held a Hyang show by taking the story of the young Bhimma …"

It is true, that the reference to the Balitung Inscription gets justification from later sources of writing. Indiria Maharsi (2018) in his work titled Wayang Beber refers to the Centini Book. This book was written in the early third of the 19th century. According to Maharsi, this book records wayang as created by Raja Jayabaya from the Kediri Kingdom. It is said that Raja Jayabaya tried to create a spirit image from his ancestors and painted it on palm leaves.

That is, listening to UNESCO's claim - that wayang as an ancient storytelling tradition originated from Indonesia - could be that UNESCO's justification is not a matter of historical facts and certainty, but rather is based more on the fact of the diversity of manifestations of traditional performance art in Indonesia. Because the diversity of the form of the puppet itself, in addition to reflecting the length of its evolutionary process in Indonesia so far, also also shows the significance of a deep meaning in the minds of the people, especially Java.

Yes, the length of the time period of the existence of wayang in Indonesia is strongly reflected in the diversity of types or models of puppets, various stories or plays, and ways of staging and language. The diversity of this manifestation of wayang art clearly shows that the world of wayang has actually been mandated in such a way in the culture of society, and perhaps that is the basis of the conclusion of UNESCO's record of wayang as a native of Indonesia.

Variety of Puppets in the Archipelago

Referring to the writings of Pandam Guritno (1988) in his Wayang, Indonesian Culture and Pancasila works, it is mentioned that in Indonesia, especially in Java, Bali, Lombok, Kalimantan, and Sumatra there are dozens of models or types of puppets.

Guritno referred to Prof. Dr. L Serrurier, Director of the Ethnographic Museum in Leiden, who at the end of the 19th century conducted a survey of the types of puppets on the island of Java. The results of his research were published under the title De Wajang Poerwa in 1896. According to Serrurier, the types of puppets known in Java at that time were: wayang beber, wayang gedog, wayang golek, wayang jemblung, wayang kalithik (klithik), wayang karucil (wayang karucil) krucil), wayang langendria, wayang lilingong, wayang lumping, wayang madya, wayang pegon, wayang purwa, wayang puwara, wayang sasak, wayang mask, and wayang wong or wayang orang.

To the names of the puppets above, Guritno added several other types or models of puppets, such as gambuh puppets, parwa puppets and ramayana puppets in Bali; wayang sasak in Lombok; wayang banjar in Kalimantan; puppet palembang in Sumatra; also wayang jemblung in Banyumas; no exception can be mentioned puppet deer, puppet pancasila or puppet torch; wayang wahyu; and so forth.

Meanwhile, based on the main actors, the types or types of puppets can be classified into five groups, namely, first, shadow puppets, the performers on the stage are two-dimensional puppets, made of skin or bones. Second, puppet show, players on the stage are three-dimensional dolls made of wood. Third, wayang wong or people, players on the stage are people. Fourth, wayang beber, players are only depicted on wide paper that is rolled and stretched (unfolded) during a performance. Fifth or finally, wayang klithik, players on the stage are dolls made from flat wood.

Included in wayang kulit are wayang gedog and wayang purwa in Java; wayang parwa in Bali; wayang sasak in Lombok; and wayang banjar in Kalimantan; and wayang palembang in Palembang. Including puppet show is a Sundanese puppet show with stories of Ramayana and Mahabarata; also included here is the puppet show Menak Java with stories of Islamic heroism; no exceptions Cepak Cirebon puppets with stories about the Chronicle of Cirebon and the spread of Islam in West Java.

Whereas wayang wong or wayang people usually display plays from Ramayana and Mahabarata. But langendria puppets who also use people as their players usually perform plays about the history of Majapahit, such as stories about Damarwulan and his opponents Menakjingga.

In addition, we can also classify them based on stories or plays that are performed and the language used. Here there is something interesting to note, namely the system of community classification about wayang. Although let's say that they are including wayang kulit, for example, if the play or story that is staged is Panji, the puppet is not a type of wayang purwa, but is a type of wayang gedog. Not without exception, although they both use wayang golek, for example, the play performed in Parahyangan originates from the Ramayana-Mahabarata epic; while in Java take the story of the heroism of Amir Hamzah.

The principle of detailing this grouping of wayang categories clearly shows how the world of wayang has reached a sophisticated cultural phase in the historical space of society. This case is reminiscent of the case of naming the model (dhapur) of a keris, where if there were any slightest elements that were different then it would surely have a different name and type of grouping.

if you are interested in wayang you can visit the Indonesia Souvenirs site

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