Wayang is an Indonesian word for theatre (literally "shadow"). When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theater, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Performances of shadow puppet theater are accompanied by gamelan in Java, and by "gender wayang" in Bali.
UNESCO designated Wayang Kulit, a shadow puppet theater and the best known of the Indonesian wayang, as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003. In return of the acknowledgment, UNESCO demanded Indonesia to preserve their heritage. Javanese Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) performance by an Indonesian famous dalang (puppet master) Ki Manteb Sudharsono, usually took place a whole night long.)
Wayang kulit, shadow puppets prevalent in Java and Bali in Indonesia, are without a doubt the best known of the Indonesian wayang. Kulit means skin, and refers to the leather construction of the puppets that are carefully chiseled with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods.
The stories are usually drawn from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or theSerat Menak.
(Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) in Wayang Purwa type, depicting five Pandava, from left to right: Bhima, Arjuna,Yudhishtira, Nakula, and Sahadeva, Indonesia Museum, Jakarta.)
Wayang wong and wayang topeng or wayang gedog
Wayang wong also known as Wayang orang (literally human wayang) is a type of Javanese dance theatrical performance with themes taken from episode of Ramayana or Mahabharata.
While wayang gedog usually the theatrical performance that took the themes from the Panji cycles stories from the kingdom of Janggala, in which the players wear masks known as wayang topeng orwayang gedog. The word "gedog" comes from "kedok", which, like"topeng" means "mask". The main theme is the story of Raden Panji and Candra. This is a love story about princess Candra Kirana of Kediri and Raden Panji Asmarabangun, the crown prince of Jenggala. Candra Kirana was the incarnation of Dewi Ratih (goddess of love) and Panji was an incarnation of Kamajaya (god of love). Kirana's story was given the title "Smaradahana" ("The fire of love"). At the end of the complicated story they finally can marry and bring forth a son, named Raja Putra. Panji Asmarabangun ruled Jenggala under the official names "Sri Kameswara", "Prabu Suryowiseso", and "Hino Kertapati". Originally, wayang wong was performed only as an aristocratic entertainment in four palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta. In the course of time, it spread to become a popular and folk form as well.
Wayang wong has fixed patterns of movement and costume:
For male performers:
- Alus: very slow, elegant and smooth movement. For example, the dance of Arjuna, Puntadewa and all other refined and slimly builtKshatriyas. There are two types of movement, lanyap and luruh.
- Gagah: a more masculine and powerful dance movement, used commonly for the roles of strongly built kshatriyas, soldiers and generals.
- Kambeng: a more powerful and athletic dance, used for the roles of Bima, Antareja, and Ghatotkacha.
- Bapang: gagah and kasar for the warriors of antagonist roles such as Kaurawa.
- Kalang kinantang: falls somewhere between alus and gagah, danced by tall, slim dancers in the roles of Kresno or Suteja.
- Kasar: a coarse style, used in portraying evil characters such as Rakshasa, ogres and demons.
- Gecul: a funny court jester and commoners, portraying ponokawan and cantrik
- Kambeng dengklik: for ape warriors, such as Hanuman.
- Kalang kinantang dengklik: for ape warriors, such as Sugriwa and Subali.
For female performers: Kshatriya noblemen. Costumes and props distinguish kings, kshatriyas, monks, princesses, The movements known as nggruda or ngenceng encot in the classical high style of dance consist of nine basic movements (joged pokok) and twelve other movements (joged gubahan and joged wirogo) and are used in portraying Bedoyo and Srimpi.
Today, the wayang wong, following the Gagrak style of Surakarta, is danced by women. They follow the alus movements associated with a Kshatriya, resembling Arjuna. Following the Gagkra style from Yogyakarta a male dancer uses these same Alus movements to depict princes and generals. There are about 45 distinct character types.
( Pandava and Krishna in an act of the wayang wong performance.)
Wayang golek (rod puppets)
Wayang golek are wooden doll puppets that are operated from below by rods connected to the hands and a central control rod that runs through the body to the head. The simple construction of the puppets belies their versatility, expressiveness and aptitude for imitating human dance. Little is known for certain about the history of wayang golek, but scholars have speculated that it most likely originated in China and arrived in Java sometime in the 17th century. Some of the oldest traditions of wayang golek are from the north coast of Java in what is called the pasisir region. This is home to some of the oldest Muslim kingdoms in Java and it is likely the wayang golek grew in popularity through telling the wayang menak stories of Amir Hamza, the uncle of Muhammad. These stories are still widely performed in Kabumen, Tegal, and Jepara as wayang golek menak, and in Cirebon, wayang golek cepak. Legendary origins of wayang golek attribute their invention to the Muslim saint Wali Sunan Kudus, who used the medium to proselytize Muslim values. In the 18th century the tradition moved into the mountains of West Java where it eventually was used to tell stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabarata in a tradition now called wayang golek purwa, which can be found in Bandung, Bogor and Jakarta. Wayang golek purwa has become the most popular form of wayang golek today and the most famous puppeteer family is the Sunarya family which has produced several generations of stellar performers.
(A pair of wayang golek from West Java)
Wayang karucil or wayang klitik
Wayang klitik figures come originally from eastern Java, where one still finds workshops turning them out. They are less costly to produce than wayang kulit figures
The origin of the stories involved in these puppet plays comes from the kingdoms of eastern Java: Jenggala, Kediri and Majapahit. From Jenggala and Kediri come the stories of Raden Panji and Cindelaras, which tells of the adventures of a pair of village youngsters with their fighting cocks. The Damarwulan presents the stories of a hero (Damarwulan) from Majapahit. Damarwulan is a clever chap, who with courage, aptitude, intelligence and the assistance of his young lover Anjasmara, makes a surprise attack on the neighboring kingdom and brings down Minakjinggo, an Adipati(viceroy) of Blambangan and mighty enemy of Majapahit's beautiful queen Sri Ratu Kencanawungu. As a reward, Damarwulan is married to Kencanawungu and becomes king of Majapahit; he also takes Lady Anjasmara as a second wife. This story is full of love affairs and battles and is very popular with the public. The dalang is liable to incorporate the latest local gossip and quarrels and work them into the play as comedy.
(Wayang klitik image of Batara Guru)
The wayang beber has strong similarities to narratives in the form ofillustrated ballads that were common at annual fairs in medieval and early modern Europe. They have also been subject to the same fate—they have nearly vanished. Chinese visitors to Java during the 15th century described a storyteller or unrolled scrolls and told stories that made the audience laugh or cry. A few scrolls of images remain from those times, found today in museums. There are two sets, hand-painted on hand-made bark cloth, that are still owned by families who have inherited them from many generations ago, in Pacitan and Wonogiri, both villages in Central Java. Performances, mostly in small open-sided pavilions or auditoriums, take place according to the following pattern:
The dhalang (puppeteer, narrator) gives a sign, the small gamelan orchestra with drummer and a few knobbed gongs and a musician with a rebab (violin-like instrument held vertically) begins to play and the dhalang unrolls the first scroll of the story. Then, speaking and singing, he narrates the episode in more detail. In this manner, in the course of the evening he unrolls several scrolls one at a time. Each scene in the scrolls represents a story or part of a story. The content of the story typically stems from the Panji romances which are semi-historical legends set in the 12th-13th century East Javanese kingdoms of Jenggala, Daha and Kedhiri, and also in Bali.
(Wayang painting depiction of Bharatayudha battle)