Bali traditional theatre
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The Origin

The existence of wayang in Indonesia has got great attention from cultural studies, especially from Dutch historians and cultural researchers. Even Dr. GAJ Hazeu appointed wayang as his research report for the University of Leiden, to be honored philosophy of doctor. Many other researchers such as Prof. Brandes, Dr WH Rassers, KPA Susumodilogo, Mangkudireja, RMAH Tjakranegara, R.Ng Ranggawarsita, Ir. Sri Muljono also published their writing on wayang. Sri Muljono in his book : Wayang Asal - Usul, Filsafat and Masa Depannya " has put into account a more complete aspects on seeing the existence of wayang. In Indonesia and Bali in particular the terminology of wayang is used to refer a shadow puppet play and human drama which imitate the dressing and make up like wayang puppet. Also the theme on the show taken from the story of Ramayana and Maha Bharata.On this short writing the term wayang is used to refer shadow puppet show, played by single person or artist called " dalang"

Among New Amuseuments

The popularity of wayang show in Bali until 1970s was so big, almost every one in Bali loved to watch the show until finished from 11.00 pm until 04.00 the next day. Yet today only the jokers presented by the dalang through the figures of Semar and Gareng ( for Java ), and Merdah Twalen and Sangut - Melem ( for Bali ) that are still interesting for the common audiences. A good dalang of today will exploit the jokes aspect of the show, since the people do not too enthusiastic anymore in the repeated story of Ramayana and Maha Bharata. This is due to the various entertainment one can find very easily and cheap prices. Most of the writers put a question on " where is the origin of Wayang, and when it was started " Toward this questions many opinions have been proposed. One side traces the origin of wayang show from the shadow. This group by analyzing the word " wayang " which is convertible into " bayang " means shadow. Many Javanese words can be compared like this such as / wulan / into / bulan / means moon, / wakul / into / bakul /, /walang / into / balang / means grasshopper, and many other words. Dr. Hazeu on his dissertation to the team of University of Leiden wrote that based on the terminologies used on the show such as wayang, kelir ( screen ), blencong ( light ), keprak ( music instrument ), dalang ( single player ), kotak ( box ), the wayang puppet show originated from Java. This type of theatre can only be found in Java and Bali. There are carvings of wayang on the ancient walls of Candi Penataran in east Java carved in 1268 AD which is taken from Ramayana epic, yet it is only the theme and the style of the figure which show the slight similarity of the current leather made wayang in Java and Bali. According to Prof Brandes, Hindu people in India did not have a theatre like this. In Java the theatre continuous from Hindu period, Islam, and until today, just like it is in Bali the tradition continuous at least as the requirements of certain ritual.

Wayang Community

In the effort to preserve this tradition, on 28 August 1958 a congress on Indonesian dalang was organized in Surakarta with the committee headed by Dr. Suharso and R. Ng. Wignyasutarna. The congress has decided to up grade the institution on Indonesian Dalang, which was built in 1953. Almost all dalangs from central and east Java joined the membership of this institution with the name of Panunggaling Dalang Republic Indonesia abbreviated as PADRI or Association of Dalang of Republic Indonesia. They have a great idea that is to build an encyclopedia of wayang and dalang. The member of the PADRI are from various field from the association of wayang producers, wayang player or the dalang, academicians, universities, and the institution of dalang in Indonesia. The congress also followed by seminars on wayang organized by Faculty of Letters and Culture of Indonesia under the Dean of Prof. Slament Mulyana on 28 January 1968. The seminar divided into sections each discussing the content of wayang, the technique of show, show equipments, the use of language. From this seminar was born the foundation of Yayasan Pedalangan Wayang Purwa or the foundation of Dalang of Wayang Purwa. Purwa means here as the show using Ramayana and Maha Bharata as the main theme.

On 24 - 29 July 1969 in Taman Ismail Marzuki was organized the first wayang festival of Indonesia which was followed by 171 participants including dalangs, observers, and expert on wayang. This numbers was triple if include the music players that must back up the show. During the festival was not only wayang leather puppet show that was participating, but other type of dances influenced by wayang itself such as wayang golek ( known as marionette ), wayang by men dressed like wayang or known as wayang orang, participated at least for the demonstration of the dance. From this festival also disclosed that the popularity of wayang show among students show the figure that Sundanese 81.5% still like to watch the dance, Java show 87.7% and Bali only 51% from the total samples that were given the questions. The fact that Bali showing the lowest number among the students it must be an influence of education level will give one be able to see more choice of amusements.

Wayang Show in Bali

If we see the situation of wayang show in Bali it is also great effort by local government to preserve the art by building annual art festival held at special stage called art center in the center of Denpasar city. During the art festival or called Bali art festival, wayang show with its most important aspect of dalang would up grade and giving courage to preserve this type of amusement which will maintain the art inventory of Bali. The problem is now that the type and theme of amusements have been freely available and easy to find, from a television to internet. Yet as a public mass amusement this traditional art is actually un comparable in all aspects, as it also bring various people to gather in one place, where one can see to know or just meet each other. According to writer to preserve the art, especially in Bali, the dalang can not only rely his knowledge on the main theme of the show such as Ramayana or Maha Bharata, but the most important is to put the role of clones as the main key to satirize the social condition which is living in the society. As every one would feel happy to hear, see or thinking about humor, but humorist critic of the society is basically an indirect education. This is very important now for Balinese in the midst of ignorance for vision, and only put target of life. As Bali is a tourist destination, the influence of drugs has been so frightening and unavoidable among the weak persons, wayang show can be an effective means for the education of the people provided the dalang can get back the heart of the people by shifting a little bit the technique of the show from the main theme to more amusing jokes.

Wayang Show and Screen

Wayang Show Screen and Some famous Figures
If we speak about wayang puppet show in Bali, there is a superstitious aspect that following the show. Before the show is started there is a ceremony to implore the security or well being from invisible being which is believed to be the bad spirits that often makes trouble to human beings. The ritual is usually consist of some type of offering made of cakes, fruits, flowers, eggs, chickens, incense, and water. As soon as the ritual finished the Dalang started to play the Kayonan. Kayonan is a shape of tree, yet some KayonanKlirsaid it is a symbol of a certain heavenly body, that can protect the Dalang from the bad spirits' trouble. The view of the screen during the show in the past is red light as the light used was carosine light. While the Dalang who plays various figures is only one person. Only the music called gender will follow the movement and stages of the action of the various figures. The movement of wayang puppet will be totally on the control of one person, that is the dalang with his experience on reading the story of Ramayana Epic, or only gained his teacher or father which is usually also a dalang. Very few actually a dalang reads original Ramayana book, yet only read the recomposition of Ramayana made during Javanese kingdom in 14th century or much later version. It is believed that before the arrival of Ramayana Epic arriving in Bali the version of Wayang Puppet show has been existing in Indonesia, and with the arrival of this epic then the theme of the show changed into Ramayana or Mahabharata. The popularity of this drama in Indonesia, especially in Java and Bali has been too high, not only for the villages, but the people in the cities.

Some famous figures

Rama and ShintaHanoman
Sugriwa Raksasa
Sugriwa, head of monkey country Demon soldier ( Raksasa)

Clawns or Joker ( Indonesia : Punakawan )

There are actually 2 famous epics from India, but only Ramayana that is popular for the theme of a wayang puppet show, especially the episode of the love story and the throne of Ayodya Pura kingdom. Prince Rama left the kingdom with his wife Sinta and his brother Laksamana, to let her other brother to rule the country, although in fact that his brother Bharata refused to take the responsibility to rule the country as he think that Rama is the legal heirs to the throne. This is because of his mother in low that insisted to make Bharata as the legal throne of the kingdom, and made Rama retreating to the jungle with his wife and his brother. Yet during the retreat, the king of Demon abducted his wife, and this is the start of the great war of Ramayana. Here is the name of Sugriwa, the head of monkey country become ally of Rama, by sending his smart and strong solder Hanuman.

The Punakawan
The popularity of wayang puppet show can not be separated from the role of Punakawan, who always making the audience laughing. They are all made in ugly faces and unlogic body taille. Tualen and Merdah are the servants of right part or the good regime, while Melem and Sangut is the servant of left regime, the bad regime. A perfect presentation of how the jokes should be according to the taste of Balinese and Javanese. Most of the Dalang success in making his carrier in wayang puppet show because his talent on giving the role to the Punawakan both in normal discussion or intentionally made for joking. In every occasion the Punakawan act as the translater for the discussion between the leaders of the right and the left regimes or among their member in the regime. The Dalang make the discussion among the wayang figures in Old Javanese langauge, while the Punawakan then translated into Balinese current language or Bahasa Indonesia, so audiences will understand the discussion. What is interesting with the symbolization of each of the Punawakan is their character. Each has its own specific character supporting their role as joker. Melem is assigned as the personality with big mouth and his brother Sangut is cowed and cunning, very smart in looking something to savior himself. Tualen is a clumsy, yet wise servant, and his brother Merdah is pigmy with great caurage, brave, yet still short of reasoning. dance

Garis Bali


Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.