Wayang Kulit | Traditional Balinese Shadow Puppet

The more ancient indigenous theatre that precedes the Wayang Wong is the Wayang Kulit/Purwa. Traditionally the function of the shadow play is bound up with exorcism, propitiation and invocation of fertility. It reflects a traditional art, a shadow theater dated back many centuries ago, but its  origin is still the subject of controversy for reason no reliable sources of data available at present. Rashers and others belive that the Wayang Purwa in ancient from must have had its source in the most primitive theatrical performances and from a religious base as for example the performance of dema of the Papuan tribes of the Marina Anim region inWest Irian and associated with ancestral worship and form an indigenous ritual initiations for men.

In Bali up to now we still Wayang Kulit performances related to certain kinds of yadnya (ceremonies), they are ; Pitra yadnya (burring and cremation ceremony) and Manusa yadnya (birthday, tooth filling and wedding ceremony). At the end of the performances the Dalang or the shadow player makes holy water (tirta wayang), ready in order to be sprinkled. The difference between the performances of the Mahabharata/Parwa and the Ramayana remarked on the accompaniment. For the Mahabharata a group of four genders (met allophones) in slendro tonality is sufficient, but for the instruments such as small drums, cymbals, a small gong, in order to make the sphere much  livelier and exciting, primarily during the first scene between the demons, the subjects of Rahwana and monkey army, the allies of Rama.

Usually for the few hours performance the Mangku Dalang ( initiated Wayang performer) just presents one of the episodes of the Ramayana for it is rather impossible to perform the whole story. Though the fragment being displayed to the audience is quietly familiar or often know before, the attention for listening and watching is not going to be diminished or vanished, especially when it is performed by a well know Dalang. He must be a good singer, dance master, orator in short he must be a complete artist as a composer. Like Java, Bali to has a couple of buffoons in the Wayang play belonging to each side of the opposing forces. The Balinese society is so integrated with these Wayang personalities that in the everyday life a certain person is often called after one the wayang figures in accordance with his/her performance it would seem that the role of the above mentioned.

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