Wayang Wong under Onslaught of Time

Wayang Wong under Onslaught of Time

In the past, there were quite a lot of wayang wong art troupe in Bali. However, in keeping with the passage of time, one by one has lost its successor. Ultimately this art disappeared and is forgotten. Now, the number of wayang wong art troupe can be counted on fingers.Karangasem records to still have three

In the past, there were quite a lot of wayang wong art troupe in Bali. However, in keeping with the passage of time, one by one has lost its successor. Ultimately this art disappeared and is forgotten. Now, the number of wayang wong art troupe can be counted on fingers.Karangasem records to still have three wayang wong art troupes namely at the clan temple of Batur Paketan at Tengah hamlet, Selumbung, Ban village and Duda village.

The wayang wong art at this village has been revitalized with the help of an art college in Denpasar in November 2015. The wayang wong art troupe is still running as related to wali dance that should be performed in certain ceremonies at temples. All this time, before there was revitalization of wayang wong either playing the Mahabharata or Ramayana epic story, it was often held pursuant to the existing condition in order to still survive.

However, after the revitalization local residents are happy because amid the globalization and instant art today, if worked on and danced well, the wayang wong is still able to amaze the audience. As evidence, the wayang wong art troupe making performance with the title of ‘Kumbakarna Seized’ was capable of stunning local residents. One of the oldest dancers in the wayang wong art troupe at Selumbung is Wayan Nurasih, 65.

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This thin and small farmer admitted to have paid devotional work as wayang wong dancer since young age. She often appeared as Sangut. Other than at Selumbung, wayang wong can also be found at Ban village as well as Duda village, Selat, Karangasem.The Head of the Karangasem Culture and Tourism Agency, Wayan Purna, said few days ago that he is trying to program the revitalization of wayang wong art troupes. As at Ban village, the wayang wong dancers only remain several people. “It needs to be revitalized by training the cadre of dancers as the successor,” he said.

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Wayang wong art troupe can also be found at Gede hamlet, Subagan. However, to the knowledge of local community leader named IGM Tusan, the wayang wong art troupe could only last until around the eruption of Mount Agung (1963). Now, it is difficult to be preserved or revitalized because the masks can no longer be found.

Remain to exist

In Bangli we know an artist of wayang wong from Sulahan, Susut, I Dewa Gede Bakti. He explained that based on its genre the wayang wong belongs to bebali (semi sacred) art. The wayang wong is usually performed at temples in relation to religious ceremonies. Based on its storyline, the wayang wong is divided into two, namely the Ramayana and the parwa. Wayang wong of Ramayana is a puppet show whose storyline is taken from the Ramayana epic, while the parwa tells about the storyline of Mahabharata epic. Ordinarily, the parwa dancers do not use the property like mask as found in the wayang wong of Ramayana.

Further, he explained that the dancers of wayang wong make bilingual conversations namely in Old Javanese and Balinese language in the show. Old Javanese language is spoken by the dancers playing the main characters, while Balinese language is spoken by dancers portraying as clown. “Clown has the most difficult role. Apart from having to make jokes, he must also serve as an interpreter,” he explained.

According to this artist who is also the Secretary in the Bangli Culture and Tourism Agency, though wayang wong has existed since the days of Waturenggong administration, until now he recognized that this art still exists. It is evident from the persistence of wayang wong in temple ceremonies at several villages in Bangli.

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Moreover, he had confidence that wayang wong will remain to persist considering at several villages the property used in wayang wong performance like masks are sanctified and danced in the implementation of ceremony. “At Sulahan village, for instance, the wayang wong is still staged because the masks are sanctified by local residents,” he explained.

Nevertheless, Dewa Bakti recognized that it is quite difficult to regenerate the wayang wong dancer in several villages. Habitually the current younger generation is rarely interested in learning this art because is it hard to learn the languages, namely the Old Javanese and Balinese language. “Thankfully younger generation at Sulahan village has quite high interest in becoming the successors of wayang wong dancers, so that wayang wong can remain to survive until these days,” he said. (BTN/kmb)

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