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SE A ST 1 - (Week 5) The Wayang World

SE A ST 1 - (Week 5) The Wayang World - CHAPTER 5 The...

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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 5 The Wayang World “Inst as in a discussion of a whole culture, so in a discussion of wayang . . . there is no limit. While it is heing analyzed, the subject keeps ex- pending; as soon as we believe that its outermost limits have been reached, new vistas open up. This is heccmse wayang comprises all aspects of Java- nese culture. It is fitting therefore that in order to explain our inability to cope with the snhiect in its entirety, we should borrow the words con- stantly used by the Venerable Daiang: To sum it up, one night does not suffice. . . . The characterization is incomplete—there are too many shades. Therefore we break off this . . . presentation. Enough.’ "1 The Sphere A WORLD on snanows, the wayang is the legendary world of the traditional (now “classical”) Javanese theater. At its heart lies the shadow play.” Like the shimmering reflection of nature in a pool, the wayang world is the beguiling cultural twin of Javanese reality. It is populated by gods, noble and vile kings and princes, beautiful princesses, demons, giants, monsters, sages, servants, and clowus—all intimate members of the Javanese cultural family, tied to it by firm bonds of familiarity, love, and admiration. In its narrowest sense the word wayang (literally, shadow) today designates the flat, leather-carved rod puppet of the shadow play. The Javanese puppct’s own stylized shape exaggerates, like a shadow, the natural Javanese human form. One may say that a wayang’s shadow—oharp and steady or diffuse and fluttering-u is a shadow of a shadow. In its widest sense the word wayang has come to mean a dramatic performance, a play, a show, whether " The Balinese theater is not as strongly influenced by the shadow play as the Javanese. Cf. Beryl dc Zoete and Waltet Spies, Dance and Drama in Bali (London, 1952). —Tjan Tjoe Siam the actors be puppets or human beings. W’hcn used alone, the word wayang thus means either a shadow puppet or a shadow play; in the designation of some other play, a second qualifying term always follows, as for instance, wayang wong, a play (dance drama) per- formed by man, that is by living actors.‘ The “wayang world” embraces a variety of tradi- tional Javanese theaters, the principal forms of which will be described below. The first is wayang hnlit (haiit: skin, leather): the complete generic name for the ancient shadow play, knowu and beloved not only in Java but also in Bali as Well as in Javanese settlements in other regions. Both narration and dialogue are recited by the daiang, the storyteller, who manipulates all the puppets. The audi~ ence can sit either before or behind the screen and thus view either the actual puppets or their shadows. "‘ By extension, even a circus is sometimes referred to as wayang kuda (Ratio: horse, thus “horse Show"); and before the Dutch word hioslzop was thoroughly entrenched in Indo- nesian usage, the cinema was called by villagers woyang gam- har hidnp, “living pictures wayang” or wayang geiap, “dark wayang.” [1231 [124] LIVING TRADITIONS A vast corpus of myths is perpetuated and dissemi— nated by means of the shadow play. In their wayang kulit versions old Indonesian motifs alternate, inter- twine, or merge with the mythology of India which in turn is expanded and embroidered often beyond recog— nition. According to the content of the performed plays, lakon, the Javanese wayang kulit is subdivided into: 1) Wayang par-tea" (puma: primeval, original, an- cient) with a repertory drawn from four groups of myths:2 first, the so-called “Prehistory” based in part on the Adiparwa (prelude to the Mahabharata) and in part on ancient Indonesian mythology (plays based on this “prehistory” are usually performed only for exor- cising and propitiatory purposes); second, the cycle of myths known as Ardjuua Sasra Baa dealing with the origins of some prominent figures of the Ramayana and in which through the figure of Kresna (who like Rama is an incarnation of god Vishnu) the connection be- tween the Ramayana and the Mahabharata is estalr lished; third, the Ramayana properfl‘ fourth, the story of the Pandawa and the Korawa as related in the Mahabharata. Plays based on episodes of the Mahab— harata or revolving around particular heroes of this epic are by far the most numerous and popular among all the varieties of shadow plays. 2) Wayang gedog (the meaning of geclog is un- clear): its repertory of plays is based on the East Java“ * In Bali it is known as wayartg parwa (patient is possibly connected with the parwan, main divisions of the Mahab- harata). TWayang kulit plays based on the Ramayana are some— times classed separately as wayaag Rama. Plate 103. Javanese wayang kulit, shadow-play puppets. From left: young Sumbadra and young Ardjuna. nese Pandji legends; the leather puppets differ from those of wayang purwa in details of costume, especially of the headdresses; now relatively rare in Central Java but more popular in East Java where also the Damar Wulan legends enter into the wayang gedog repertory. 3) Wayaug madya (madya: middle): its plays are based on nineteenth—century epic poetry of the poet Ranggawarsita, having as themes the reign of the East Javanese pr0phet-king Djayabaya; formerly confined to the court of the Mangkunagara of Surakarta, wayang madya is now probably rarely if at all performed. In some Javanese writings the different kinds of shadow plays are made to correspond to successive pe- riods of Javanese history—with a suitably constructed genealogy of kings—from the era of their mythological ancestors (wayang purwa) to modern times Cwayang Pantja Silaf‘ for example, which COntinues into the his tory of the Republic)“ Some varieties of wayang are ascribed to individual rulers; others are remembered as inventions of individual dalangs. Because of their nar- rowly local or short-lived popularity, a number of wayang kulit varieties have not been included in the basic list above. Among them are wayang leulale, intro- duced under Hamengltu Buwana V (1822—1855), which dealt with the history of his Jogjaltarta domain; wayang dupara, devoted to the history of Surakarta; wayang wahana, invented by Mas Sutarto under the pseudonym Rshi Wahana, and probably the first at- tempt in the twentieth century to use the shadow play primarily as a vehicle for airing contemporaneous so- cial problemsfl' wayang Dja'wa, invented by a regent of Suraltarta whose appellation (as dalang?) was Duta- dilaga, glorified the deeds of Prince Diponegoro, hero of the Java War (18254830); waytmg leantjil, created by the Solonese painter and wayang-maker Baden Mas Sajid, for performing stories about Mouse Deer Chant- jil), hero of numerous popular fables; wayang perti- jaartgaa, also by R. M. Sajid, for popularizing heroism in guerrilla warfare during the Indonesian revolutiom wayang suluh, invented in 1947 in Madiun upon the initiative of a Youth Congress, in which naturalistic Hat leather puppets of Indonesian leaders, officials, mili- tary and civilian personages as well as their opponents “ "' See p. 202. 'l‘ Subtle allusions to current events and problems occur also in wayang purwa and other shadow plays, especially in the comical dialogues of the clowns and remarks by the story- teller. (representatives of the Netherlands Government) and mediating foreigners (representatives of the United Nations), all in modern dress, appeared in plays about the revolutionary war and the subsequent United Na- tions sponsored negotiations; wayang poetics—silo, de signed by Harsono. Hadisoeseno for the political edu- cation of the masses, in which the five Pandawa broth- ers of the Mahabharata were made to symbolize the five principles of the Indonesian state proclaimed by President Sukarno;"L finally, the shadow play acquired a special form and name in wayang Adam Ma’rifat in a district near Magelang, Central Java, where an Is— lamic mystic sect by that name used it as a vehicle for instruction.‘ I may add that personally I had learned in 195 5-«1957 of at least one case where wayang kulit was similarly used by a Christian mission in Central Java for dramatizing religious themes with one puppet rep- resenting the Blessed Virgin. These various modern attempts to harness the shadow play for propaganda are but shallow inlets compared with the deep, broad stream of mythology which has been captivating untold generations in the lands of Southern Asia—from India to Indonesia. Traditionally, the function of the shadow play is bound up with ex‘orcism, propitiation, and invocation of fertility. The appearance on the shadow screen of the gods and mythical heroes who fight their demonic adversaries was perhaps formerly tantamount to an 'in- vocation of ancestral spirits and powerful deities to promote welfare. Among the special plays of the “pre- history” cycle of wayang purwa which are regarded as particularly efficacious for ritual purification to avert evil——a ceremony called ngmwat in Java—the lakon (play) Mamakaia is regarded as both magically dan- gerous as well as potent: Batara Kala (the wrathful emanation of Shiva) and Batari Durga (destructive form of his consort, Uma) appear in this play. Lakons about Dewi Sri, goddess of the rice, are performed to bless the rice crops and prevent their destruction by pests. The story of Watt: Gtmang, an unwittingly in- cestuous king whose mother-wife contrives to destroy him by sending him to the abode of the gods where he perishes, is said to be performed in East Java to Secure rainfall. Occasionally the story of Brayut, so popular in * The Indonesian Communist Party also utilized the most popular hero of the Mahabharata, Ardjuna, endowing his all- conquering magic weapon, the arrow Pasopati, with the ham— mer and. sickle insignia. THE WAYANG WORLD [125] Bali, about a couple with a horde of children, is per- formed in the shadow play at wedding celebrations. At the same time, however, wayang performances are also highly prized secular entertainment. When they are broadcast in Java by radio, the public is con- tent ‘to- enjoy only ‘th'e Voice of ,the dalang-and the wayang music. But just as lovers of music invariably gather by special permit in a broadcasting studio in the West, so a small crowd of wayang lovers invariably gathers in a broadcasting studio in Djakarta or Jogja— karta to see the actual performance. But, whatever the occasion, the dalang never fails to lay down some offerings of rice and of flowers floating in a water-filled bowl and to light some incense with a short prayer be- fore he Opens the play. Sometimes he holds a few of the puppets over the rising smoke of incense and with an incantation propitiates the magically potent person- ages they embody: bringing down to earth deities and semidivine beings in name and image is not free from danger. The sacred nature of the shadow play and its magic efficacy are still strongly felt not only by the of- ficiant dalang, but by the people as well. There are two other puppet theaters related to the shadow play but performed without a shadow screen so that only the puppets themselves are viewed by the audience. But, as in the shadow play, the dalang, is both the narrator and speaker for all characters as well as manipulator of the puppets. A Second traditional form is way-an g kittih, or kemtjil (both words indicate smallness): its flat wooden pup pets are carved in relief and painted but the articulated arms are of leather; the repertory, in Central Java, consists of plays based on the Damar Wulan story; now rare in Central Java, it is still pOpular in East Java where Pandji stories also serve as themes for wayang klitik plays. Wayang golek is a third form: it is performed with wooden, three-dimensional, costumed rod puppets (golek); the repertory in Central Java consists of plays based on stories about an Arabian prince, Amir Hamzah (an uncle of the Prophet Mohammad), whose adven- tures are related in the Javanese work Serat Menah; in West Java, Sunda, the heroes of the wayang golek stage are also those of the Ramayana and the Mahab- harata; while very popular in Java (especially West Java and Jogjakarta in Central Java), the wayang .golek theater is not known in Bali. _ Very little has been written about wayang klitik and [126] LIVING TRADITIONS wayang golel-t" compared with the extensive literature devoted to the shadow play. Both lack the latter’s depth of tradition and, although often performed semiritually in conjunction with family celebratiOns, they are not enveloped by as great an aura of mystery and sacred- ness. Also, in the absence of a shadow screen, wayang lditik puppets Seem somehow more material and more limited in their effect than the shadow puppets. As fer the round goleks, these are so realistic, except, of course, for the demonic characters, especially in Central Java, that they look like miniature human beings (about 18 inches high) dressed up for the stage (Pl. 104). Their expressive faces, like very good masks, have fluid smiles, fierce sc0wls, are sweetly dignified or riotously gro— tesque. In West Java the goleks’ faces are much more stylized. The puppets’ colorful cestumes include repli- cas of Javanese court dress. Some male characters are attired in eighteenth- or nineteenth-century gold- braided jackets of European inspiration combined with caps or turbans, some in Arab style. But all puppets wear the Javanese lung batik skirt to hide the dalang’s hand which holds the puppet by its central rod handle. The construction of a golek puppet is as simple as it is ingenious. The principal wooden components are: a roughly shaped truncated torso with a vertical hole drilled through its center; arms, in two parts strung together at the elbow and dangling loosely from the shoulders; a carefully carved and painted head, com- plete with headdress, with a somewhat elongated neck; finally, one pointed central rod, serving also as handle, and two thinner rods which are attached to the hands. The mechanism works thus: the central rod, passed freely through the torso and emerging between the shoulders, serves as pivot for the head, the neck of which is fitted tightly onto the rods upper point; be- low the torso the rod broadens to prevent the trunk from slipping downward but with enough leeway to create the effect of the puppet panting, as after a fight, or of indignation, by repeatedly pushing the trunk up and letting it slide doWn again. By twisting the central rod, the puppeteer can make a golek’s head turn in all directions which greatly enlivens its dance and other m0vements in conjunction with the arm gestures pro duced by the rods attached to the hands. Wayang golek is probably the youngest and most secular of all Javanese puppet theaters. It may have been introduced into the island’s interior from the northern coastal regions. The port cities along Java’s north coast are centers from which Islam in the past had spread inland. Also, around these trading centers Chinese settlements had clustered for centuries. The Amir Hamzah stories, so prominent in the wayang Plate 104. Iavanesa wayang golek puppets from Jogiakarm. Center: Prince Machtal with Kuraisin faces the demonic Lokayanti. Plate 105. Section of sixth wayang bébér scroll of Patjitaa, South Java. Third scene: in the Center, Selmr Tadji (Tiandra Kirana), attended by wise woman, receives her brother prior to her wedding with Pandji. (Figures to extreme left belong to preceding scene.) golek repertory, may have been brought, in Persian versions, by the carriers of Islam who presumably came from India. Among the Chinese Settlers round puppets seem to have been known, but they were either hand puppets or string marionettes.6 If the Javanese bor- rowed the idea of round puppets from the Chinese, it may have been natural for them to change the finger or string techniques to that of rods with which they were long familiar. In West Java among the Sundanese, wayang golek is so popular that it takes precedenCe over the shadow play and includes the latter’s repertory; plays based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (puma) and the Pandji legends (gedog) are performed there as well as stories of the Amir Hamzah cycle. There used to be still another manner of performing wayang stories known as wayang bébe‘r (behér: un- folding). It consisted of illustrations painted on long horizontal scrolls which the dalang unrolled, scene after scene, for the audience to see, as he recited the tale, speaking and chanting; the stories thus depicted and narrated included those of the purwa, gedog, and klitik repertories. I met a wayang bébér dalang who may well have been the last of his kind in Java, with his old scrolls and his small group of musicians, in 1937, in the vi]- lage of Gedompol in the Patjitan region of South Java. He had six scrolls, each divided into four scenes, painted on what seemed to be a sort of bark-cloth paper, badly frazzled at the edges and darkened by age to brownish—yellow tints. They were perhaps more than a hundred years old.‘ To my knowledge no one produces wayang beber scrolls any moreri' But it must have been a popular form of storytelling for centuries. Ma Huan, a Chinese Moslem who was secretary to an eminent * See Appendix III for summary of the wayang bébér lakon depicted in these scrolls. TFrom Benedict R. US. Anderson, Camel] University, who returned in 1964 from two years of field research in In- donesia, I learned that the wayang beber scrolls here described still exist, are in the possession of a group of related families who keep them in turn each for a few months, and that per- formances are still being given for magic purification purposes. They claim that the scrolls have existed For twelve generations. Mr. Anderson also reported that excellent copies, painted on cloth, have been and are still being made of the wayang hither scenes in Solo, not to be used for performances, but as paint- ings which seem to attract some connoisseurs. [128] LIVING TRADITIONS admiral sent by a Ming emperor on a mission to South- east Asia, wrote about Java in 1416: There are a sort of men who paint on paper men, birds, animals, insects and so on; the paper is like a scroll and is fixed between two wooden rollers three feet high; at one side these rollers are level with [the edge of] the paper whilst they protrude at the other side. The man squats down on the ground and places the picture before him, unrolling one part after the other and turning it towards the spectator, whilst in the native language and in a loud voice he gives an explanation of every part; the spectators sit around him and listen, laughing and crying according to what he tells them." Finally, to our wayang world belong several forms of the human theater. Wayang wong"‘ or wayaag orang (wong and orang: man, in Javanese and Indonesian respectively) is dance drama in which the dalang only recites and chants, and the dialogue is spoken by the actors themselves; the repertory of wayang wong plays is based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (thus a counterpart of wayang purwa). Wayang topeng (top- eng: mask) is a dance—pantomime play by masked ac— tors in which the plot is narrated by a dalang and the subject of which are plays based on Pandji stories Ca counterpart of wayang gedog). Langendriya C'on of the Hearts”) is a dance—opera with an all-female cast in vogue until World War II at the court of the late Mangltunagara VII of Surakarta. The plays were epi- sodes of the Damar Wulan story (thus a counterpart of wayang klitilt). In the last decade colorful perform- ances of Damar Wulan plays have entered the reper- tory of the popular theater known as Ketoprak. Thus the plays of the wayang theaters include themes drawn from the epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, in versions made thoroughly Indonesian; a corpus of plays derived from indigenous East Java- nese legends; and stories adapted from Arabian tales. In all the different theatrical forms in which these plays appea...
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