Babakan Hamlet of Sukawati Has a Myriad of Puppeteers

Babakan Hamlet of Sukawati Has a Myriad of Puppeteers

Babakan hamlet in Sukawati, Gianyar, is known for having many puppeteers and this hamlet located adjacent to the Sukawati Art Market is also famous as being home to many art maestros.  Wayan Wija is one puppeteer whose name is familiar to art lovers from his distinct telling fhte storu of Tantri. Wayan Nartha and Nyoman

Babakan hamlet in Sukawati, Gianyar, is known for having many puppeteers and this hamlet located adjacent to the Sukawati Art Market is also famous as being home to many art maestros.  Wayan Wija is one puppeteer whose name is familiar to art lovers from his distinct telling fhte storu of Tantri.

Wayan Nartha and Nyoman Granyam are two other well known pupeterrs from Bebakan hamlet. Granyam became famous after President Soekarna invited him to stage a puppet show at the Ubud Palace in 1962. There are many other puppeteers from this hamlet who are well known in the area and in many other parts of Bali and beyond.

I Ketut Sudiana, who is a descendant of a Nyoman Nartha, explained that Babakan is famous as a puppet art village. From time immemorial puppeteers have thrived here. Currently there are approximately 20 third generation puppeteers in Babakan hamlet who perform various types of puppet shows. “Babakan Sukawati became a center of art during the kingdom era”, he said.

The people of Babakan have remained highly creative developing all manner of traditional puppets with Wayan Madra being a famous example. Many foreign scholars come to Babakan to research Balinese puppets, explained this lecturer from the Faculty of Performing Arts, ISI Denpasar.

Babakan village is also famous for silver handicrafts, drawing many buyers. The late Wayan Sobrat was a famous bade tower (used to haul body in cremation ceremony) and lion artist and his skills have been passed down to his children who still make these beautiful sculptures.

Most interestingly, the Babakan community is still diligent in preserving their palm-leaf manuscripts as a source of inspiration for their performing arts. The legacy of the palm-leaf manuscript is also varied. “The manuscripts are a very useful reference for puppeteers for the story material in puppet performances. Sometimes specific stories are requested so they must be prepared carefully”, said Sudiana.

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Today, there are many young creative puppeteer, explained this winner of the Bali Little Puppeteer 1983, because the arte environment of the hamlet is conducive to creativity. He hiself became a puppeteer because he was encouraged by his family, like when he had to perform in the Bali Little Puppeteer Festival to represent Gianyar district. In the competition held by Cultural Development and Advisory Council (Listibya), this Gianyar-born man on March 29, 1970 won first place. From then on, he became a famous child puppeteer who received many requests to perform.

At Sukawati village, there are many puppeteers with different specific skills. Puppeteers must  pay attention to rhetoric, the dialogue of the puppets when arguing and dancing technique of the puppets is also very important. There are many young puppeteers today even outside of Sukawati who are enticed by the many arts including in this one art form.

In addition to actively performing and making puppets, Sudiana also teaches in the Puppetry Department of the Faculty of Performing Arts at the Indonesia Institute of the Arts (ISI) Denpasar. “In the past, most puppet craftsmen were also a puppeteers. Today, many art lovers also become craftsmen of puppets”, he concluded. (BTN/015)



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