Wayang: Playing with Shadows and Light

Unit Pengelola Museum Seni

On November 2003, the UN acknowledged Indonesian wayang as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Wayang is an Indonesian indigenous performance art. While the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Wayang kulit, or shadow puppets, are without a doubt the best known of the Indonesian wayang. The stories are usually drawn from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata from India or ancient Java. Up till now, Museum Wayang has up to 4,000 wayang collection.

History of Wayang
Wayang has existed since 1500 BC, way before influences from foreign culture and religion were introduced to Indonesia, a time when Indonesians still followed animism and dynamism. They believe that a dead person's soul is still alive, every object has a soul and has powers. To worship these souls, they drew and made objects or sculptures, puppets to embody the departed called "hyang" or "dahyang". People could connect with hyang to seek help or protection through a medium, the "syaman". The reitual to worship ancestors through "hyang" dan "syaman" is the percusor to a wayang performance. Hyang became wayang and syaman became the dalang, or puppet master.
Wayang Surakarta
Also known as Wayang Purwa Surakarta, it's the most popular wayang because of the popularity of the epics Mahabarata and Ramayana.
There are numerous characters in wayang kulit purwa . The flow and story construct can accommodate the various trends developing in the society.
A unique characteristic of a wayang from the royal court is that it follows a certain school of style: cermapanatasan, klathenan, klecan, kartasuran, wonogiren, and coastal Surakarta.
Wayang Betawi
The main characteristic of Wayang Betawi is its simplicity, unfairly thought of making them feel old-fashioned.
Its simplicity could be heard through its music.
The accompanying orchestra is less elaborate, with only a trumpet, two saron, gedemung, three ketuk, kromong, gambang, tambour and gong.
The design of the puppet itself is also simple, with a less smooth sunggingan andcolouring technique. There are less than 100 characters.
Wayang Palembang
As the reign of Demak Sultanate declined, the Kingdom of Pajang emerged. Some Demak nobility decided to uproot and settle in Palembang (Sumatra).
They brought with them wayang kulit purwa, which then lead to...
...wayang kulit purwa Palembang as it is now known.
Wayang Revolusi
After Indonesian independence in 1945, conditions in Java were still volatile with stories of colonization and wars abound. RM Sayid was moved to help Indonesian leaders strengthen the nationalism cause. In 1950s he invented "Wayang Perdjoeangan" which is now known as Wayang Revolusi (revolution wayang). Wayang revolusi doesn't follow a written script nor it follows a particular guideline.It tells stories from various Indonesian historic sources using existing characters.
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