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Monday, March 15, 2010

All Night Leather Puppet Show

Gadjah Mada University will hold an all-night leather puppet show entitled “Wahyu Cakraningrat”. The performance presenting Ki Purbo Asmoro as the Puppeteer (Dalang) is part of the series of events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of UGM. The show will be held on evening,  starting from 20.00 P.M until dawn at Balairung, UGM Central Office.

“We intentionally choose the story of Wahyu Cakraningrat because it has religious values and advice for the young generation of this campus, who will become the next leaders,” said Prof. Timbul Haryono, the professor of Faculty of Cultural Sciences, UGM

The traditional art event held on the night of 1 Muharram has both religious aspects and hope for the academic community that they can grasp from the story.

Cakraningrat is basically a message for the young campus generation  who will become leaders in the future. It is hoped that they can learn from the characters of Abimanyu, Lakhsmana Mandrakumara and Samba, but not all of those knights get the ‘revelation’ in their life journey. “Abimanyu is Arjuna’s son. They represent the young generation who will lead this country,” said this newly retired professor from Faculty of Cultural Sciences.
          Video: Leather puppet show
Ki Purbo Asmoro  from the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Yogyakarta explained the story of 'Wahyu Cakraningrat’ which tells about Abimanyu and Sembadra who are concerned with the chaotic world, life degradation, and loss of humanism. “He wants to do something to reduce social burden, alleviate poverty and fix the world,” said the puppeteer who has performed in many cities in USA, the UK and Greece.
Separately, Prof. Sutaryo, Chair of Academic Senate of UGM (Gadjah Mada University), said that the show would be suitable with the philosophy of the university that serves as national hall of science and culture. Two important values: personality and be knowledegable are important for students currently studying.

The history of wayang kulit or Leather puppet in Yogyakarta is the same with history of wayang kulit in central java. Leather puppet show is a performance art that has been more than half a millennium of age. Its presence has its own story, in relation with the entrance of Javanese Islam. One of the Wali Songo or the nine pious leaders who spread Islam in Java created the puppet by adopting Wayang Beber or Beber Puppet that grew during the triumph of Hindu-Buddha. Such an adoption was done since leather puppet had been attached to Javanese people so that it became the proper media to spread Islam, while Islam prohibited plastic arts. Consequently, leather puppet was made in order for people to be able to see shadow.

Leather puppet show is done by the puppeteer (dalang) who is also the storyteller. All the night, he plays all the characters of the leather puppets forming human characters made from buffalo skin decorated with motif as the product of leather carving. He has to change the voice character, switch the intonation, produce humor and even sing. In order to make the atmosphere vivid, the storyteller is assisted by musicians who play gamelan - the traditional Javanese music instruments - and the female singers called sinden who sing Javanese songs.

The total characters in leather puppet show number in the hundreds. The puppets that are not played are stuck in banana stem that is placed close to the storyteller. While being played, the puppets will look as shadow from rear view of the white screen in front of the storyteller. The shadow is created by the light from the oil lamp placed at the upper rear of the storyteller that is cut off by the puppets being played on the screen.

Each puppet performance presents different story or act. The act variations are divided into four categories namely lakon pakem, lakon carangan, lakon gubahan, and lakon karangan. Lakon pakem is the standard story that entirely originates from leather puppet literature while lakon carangan is only the main story that also refers to the leather puppet literature. Lakon gubahan does not origin from the leather puppet stories but it uses the places in accordance with leather puppet literature; lakon karangan is entirely a free story.

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