INDONESIAN PUPPET HISTORY
History of Indonesian theatreThe Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia), an archipelagic nation in South East Asia of over 18,000 islands and hundreds of distinct ethnic and liguistic groups, is the world’s fourth most populous country. An important trade region since the early centuries CE, during which time the maritime and commercial empires of Srivijaya (7th-13th centuries) and Majapahit (13th-16th centuries) traded with India and China, Indonesia has assimilated foreign cultural and political models and religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. Colonized by the Netherlands for three and a half centuries, Indonesia declared its independence in 1945.
In Indonesia, puppetry (wayang) and the related mask (topeng) performance are seen as the model for human theatre which is called wayang wong or wayang orang, literally “human puppetry”. The human dancer tries to emulate the movement of the puppet, perhaps because the figure can represent the ideal better than a mortal can. Puppetry is considered the oldest performance, the most prestigious art and the model for other theatres. (For an example of ritual figures on the island of Sulawesi the Celebes see Tau-Tau).
Though the 20th century has brought newer forms of puppetry influenced by Western television puppetry, most Indonesian puppet performances at the beginning of the 21st century remain rooted in the tradition of wayang. The term probably comes from bayang “shadow” and shadow theatre puppetry is considered the most important tradition. Wayang is a style of presenting traditional theatre in which a central puppet master/narrator called a dalang (dhalang in Javanese) is in control of both ritual and performative aspects of the presentation. He, or sometimes she, uses voice to deliver all the mood songs (suluk in Javanese), narration and dialogue, uses a wooden hammer played by hand or held between the toes to give cues to the musicians playing the gong chime (gamelan) orchestra. This hammer (cempala) creates musical and sound effects by striking the wooden puppet box.
The puppeteer in Java and Sunda (West Java) also uses metal plates hanging on the puppet chest (kotak), tapping it with a foot to create percussive music and sound effects. Puppets dance in his hands. Shadow puppetry (wayang kulit) uses flat, perforated hide figures from 30-70 centimetres with three control rods: one central rod and two others attached to the hands.
A related art which is often practised by puppet masters and their families is masked dance, topeng (“to press against the face”). Older, exorcistic forms of mask dance are, like puppetry, performed by a single person. Other mediums in which a wayang performance is presented include painted scrolls (wayang beber), flat wooden figures (wayang klitik), 3-dimensional wooden rod puppets (wayang golek) or unmasked human dancers (wayang wong or wayang orang).
The Bali Puppet Factory was created by Nen Lukhita and Chan in1981 featuring one of the largest indonesian collection of old puppets in the style of Wayang.
They were aware that with the advent of Television and Internet this precious and most characteristic indonesian artform would slowly vanish and mutate into new forms of expression. So they collected its finest examples and studied its most remarkable characteristics including its masterful carving and chiseling aspects, its typical paintlines with its various forms of natural pigment colors.
But also its precious ornaments and jewels and its various forms and meanings of fine hand made batik-, silk-and brocaded costumes as well as its multitude of aggregates: krisses, swords and spears and various ritualistic objects.
With an enlarged experience in this fascinating old traditional world of characters, heroes, clowns, warriors, kings, princesses and priests they found the inspiration to redesign and create their own Wayang puppets.
For example their unique Majapahit Puppets and Panji Puppets are still carved by their own master carvers in Java and Bali and skilfully assembled in their balinese factory. Their private showrooms feature the best examples of their collection but also of their various new creations.
For 40 years we have been showcasing Indonesia's finest, rarest and most beautiful antiques in our shops the Theatre Art Gallery was located in Seminyak (accross Madfe's Warung)now we have moved their precious contents for private viewing at home. They can now be seen, together with other treasures too special for public display, by appointment.
Next to their Puppet factory Showroom is their Theater Home gallery featuring everything rare and precious around their subject of Pupperty and indo-Asian Theater.
We encourage our friends and special clients to come and have a look at these increasingly valuable samples of Indonesia's spectacular heritage in the
quiet privacy of a domestic setting.
Visitors are welcome!