Wayang Wong

Posted: November 24, 2010 in Culture

Bali is a special place which has so many unique culture. They can show how beautiful Bali is. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music. One of those culture which is very unique is wayang wong. According to the article the History of Wayang Wong by Sidarta Wijaya on Tuesday, 25 September 2007, Wayang wong at the first was known by people in Klungkung Regency. It was started when the king of Klungkung, I Dewa Agung Sakti would like to watch a dance. He ordered a dance that can show the story of Ramayana. He took thirty people and divided them into two groups. A half of them acted as Rama’s army and the rest as Rahwana’s army. Because they acted as monkeys and giants, they had to use mask in order can act them well and look like the real story. The clothing worn by the monkeys was made from plant fibres (prasok) to stimulate fur. In that time, this dance was called barong kedingkling or barong blasan. This Barong became very popular not only in the palace but also in the village especially when performed on the holiday. The performers in monkey masks and costume would enters the village and go from house to house, clowning and entertaining the people as they went, the villager donated some money, a coconut or other kitchen utensil. The simians would even climb the coconut trees and fetch the donation themselves. These performances were always greeted with great enthusiasm by the villagers for reason other than mere enjoyment and entertaining spectacle. The society believes that barong kedingkling was so sacred. They believe when barong kedingkling visited their environment all of their coconut trees would bear more fruit and that squirrels that usually destroy the coconut crops would be driven away. And moreover the villages were visited by barong kedingkiling did not need to do caru ceremony again because barong kedingkling could drive out the evil spirit. So, if the barong kedingkling is performed the other ceremonies are not necessary. In development of this dance, the son of the king of Klungkung, I Dewa Agung Gede had an idea to add some figures more like Rama, Sita, Rahwana, Laksamana and Wibisana. Starting from that barong kedingkling is called wayang wong. Wayang means shadow and wong means man. It is kind of dance that usually perform like wayang kulit(shadow puppet). Even this dance is absolutely unique and popular, but it has started to extinct nowadays. One of village which still survives wayang wong is Tejakula. This is very unique problem because the history takes place and where it can be preserved is so different place.

Klungkung is one of regency of Bali located in the eastern of Bali. And Tejakula is one village that located in the northern of Bali. This is really long distance. Nowadays, Klungkung never perform wayang wong since the history happened. They tend to choose the other kind of dances such as, telek, barong, jauk, and all modern dances. The most famous is barong. Klungkung used to perform all kinds of barong, like barong kedingkling, barong ketet and barong macan, barong landung. But now barong that still exists is barong ketet because it is the easiest barong to be performed. This case can relate to the extinction of wayang wong is. Wayang wong is very difficult to be performed because the steps are very complicated. The society of Klungkung tends to preserve all kinds of dances which a little bit easier to be learned. In Tejakula wayang wong is very strong. The society of Tejakula can preserve it in unique ways.

The Tejakula troupe is renowned as one of the island’s most unique, and there are four main ways in which the Tejakula wayang wong differs from that of others areas. Firstly, in Tejakula, the style of wayang wong performance is classical, for its basic dance steps are the same as the dance steps for the Gambuh the most refined and complex of Balinese dace dramas. Thus, the Tejakula wayang wong is a popular subject of research among the scholars, both Indonesian and foreign, of performance art. And his forces, the preparation for war, the meeting between Rahwana and his troops, and finally, the war it self. And that is all. The audiences know off by heart, scene by scene, what going happen. But that goes not seem to deter them from turning up to watch the show every time there is a religious festival. Usually wayang wong dancers are descended from generations of dancers, and usually experience the urge to become active in the troupe as higher calling. By day, their vocations are varied – some are guides, some traders, some teachers, and the like. Some dancers however are not descended from dancers, but have taken a vow to help strengthen the troupe if they attain their ideals. One their ideals are attained, to be true to their vow, they turn to the troupe.

From that quotation is very clear about the differences of Tejakula and other villages in Bali when they perform wayang wong. The simplicity of dance steps of wayang wong in Tejakula can help the society of Tejakula village to preserve it. All members of Tejakula society are very easy to follow the steps because it is almost similar with steps of gambuh dance. They only need to dance in basic steps. They try to make it looks like a simple dance but still keep the message and its sacred. When they act as monkey they only need to dance like the real monkey. They only need to jump up or jump down. They do not need to step complicated. It is usually performed to show their respect of society in Tejakula to their ancestors. Wayang Wong is rarely performed because it can only be performed by special dancers. The dancers are chosen by local priests through a ritual. The dancers use masks which reflect characters in its story. In this dance, there are conversations among the characters. The difference between Mask Dance and Wayang Wong is about the story told. Unlike Mask Dance which mostly takes a story about history of a ceremony, wayang wong takes it story from the Babad just like wayang kulit. It also takes stories from the Ramayana and Mahabarata. Wayang Wong is rarely performed because it can only be performed by special dancers. The dancers are chosen by local priests through a ritual. Basically, there are two kinds of story of wayang wong, like wayang wong parwa and wayang wong ramayana. There is a significant difference between them. Wayang wong parwa adapts stories from the Mahabrata for the stage, and wayang wong which takes stories from the Ramayana. In wayang parwa all actors except for the clowns do not wear masks. In wayang wong Ramayana is generally known just a wayang wong hereas the wayang wong parwa is usually referred to as parwa. According to the Rector of the Yogyakarta, based Indonesian Arts Institute, Prof. Dr. Made Bandem, the Balinese wayang wong enveloped out of masked performances which existed in Bali prior to the arrival of Hinduism when masks were used as a tool with which to communicate with ancestors. The masks used to communicate with the ancestors could only be shown in public on certain days, or at religious rituals. In former times, the dancers would themselves with bark and their dance was a way of thanking ancestor for protecting them from plague. Wayang wong is believed to have emerged around the time of the waturenggong regime, between 1460-1550.


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