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Betawi Shadow Puppet is not just a spectacle

Betawi Shadow Puppet is not just a spectacle

In the midst of hundreds of spectators, suddenly you see the play of colorful lights hitting the screen or white cloth to capture the shadows of the shadow puppets. As the night progresses, the atmosphere gets warmer with the beat of drums and gamelan rhythms accompanying the beginning of the Betawi shadow puppet performance played by Dalang Ki Sukarlana. That night the 56-year-old dalang and his Sangggar Mekar Jaya appeared at a responder or inviter’s house in the South Tambun area, Bekasi Regency, West Java.

The play of lights was deliberately created by the technical crew of the studio to give a different impression amidst the sluggishness of Betawi shadow puppet shows which are increasingly marginalized. In fact, wa, which is a form of Indonesian oral tradition, was designated by UNESCO in 2003 as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

To make an update to make it look more attractive, Sanggar Mekar Jaya added a stage layout using various colored lights to produce lighting effects in the screen. The stage was deliberately divided into two parts. One for the screen and one for the sinden. Sinden who appeared numbered four people. In the middle of the show, they usually open a saweran, like a jaipong performance.

The all-night performance of Betawi shadow puppets is accompanied by the art of the voices of the sinden to the accompaniment of Sundanese gamelan in celestial tunings, plus the sound of trumpets, flutes, and fiddles.

The story in the Betawi shadow puppet performance by Ki Dalang Sukarlana has been developed according to the situation of the times. The language used is ‘peripheral’ Betawi language and is interspersed with slang. Coupled with mixed songs and pop songs that are adapted to the situation and conditions. The show is the main attraction for the audience. For several times following his performances, the author saw several fanatical audiences who were elderly but always attended to watch the performances in various places.

In these ways, the wayang kulit performances of Dalang Sukarlana are loved by the audience. This mastermind is always full of invitations every month, especially
on the independence day of the Republic of Indonesia. “Alhamdulillah, the response is 5 or 6 times every month and increases in August and September,” he said.

The tariff for responding to a Betawi shadow puppet performance in the surrounding villages around Bekasi is Rp. 7 million-Rp. 8 million. If it appears in Jakarta, the fee is Rp. 15 million. The amount will be shared with gamelan musicians, sinden, and other workers.

Mataram Influence

According to Mu’jizah, principal researcher at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), wayang from Java entered the Betawi Malay culture in 1628-1629 when Mataram soldiers came to Batavia. At that time, the soldiers of Mataram lived in the outskirts and it was they who brought the wayang kulit culture.

In Betawi Malay literature, wayang stories are very popular. In the early 19th century, Muhammad was the most famous for composing and copying wayang stories
Bakir. “This author created about nine stories, namely the Tale of the Origin of Puppets, the Tale of Pandu Derived from the Pandavas, the Sair of the Wayang Story, the Tale of the Great Sakti, the Tale of Maharaja Garebeg Jagad, the Play of Jaka Sukara, the Wayang Arjuna the Hikayat of Purusara, and the Tale of Sempura Jawa.

“In fact, in Hikayat Purusara there are 30 illustrations of shadow puppets. The same thing is also found in the Tale of the Origin of Puppets. The pictures show shadow puppet figures created according to the imagination of the Betawi author,” he explained.

Watching Betawi wayang kulit performances in general is almost similar to Javanese shadow puppets, both in physical form and in scenes. The difference, puppet
Betawi skin uses Betawi language mixed with Javanese and Sundanese. It can be seen from the beginning and several other parts of the show. Another distinctive feature is the use of multiple tools. For example, the toya, a long wooden stick that is a traditional Chinese weapon, sometimes appears in Betawi puppets, even though the panakawan character uses the tool. In this wayang, the participation of the audience is more prominent. Among the puppeteers, musicians
gamelan, and the audience can unite into a unified performance.

The story that is played in Betawi wayang kulit is carangan play, which is a play that is created freely, but still comes from stories. The stories taken are only the basics, for example certain characters and scenes. Ki Dalang Sukarlana mastered about 90 stories, including Gatot Kaca Rurubi, Duwala So King, and Duwala Meets a Match.

Until now, wayang kulit in Betawi is still used as a ritual tool for circumcision ceremonies, marriages, maulud, village cleansing, kaulan (votives), and ruwatan. In every show, Sanggar Mekar Jaya always has the motto ‘a spectacle that guides’. In this way, the Betawi puppets teach the people who are their protectors.

According to Ki Dalang Sukarlana, in Betawi wayang kulit performances there are also rules that must be obeyed if this performance does not want to fail, namely making offerings.
This offering depends on the show. Ruwatan offerings are more complete than offerings for entertainment.

For entertainment performances, the offerings are simpler, only in the form of incense, bitter coffee, sweet coffee, bitter tea, sweet tea, lemonade, and cake. However, if for treatment,
the offerings made must be complete. The offerings depend on the sex being treated. For women, the main offerings are fans, baskets, corms, cooking utensils, and a set of beauty tools.

“For men, the ritual equipment includes hoes, farming tools, and machetes. Other mandatory offerings include young coconut, cooked chicken eggs, raw chicken eggs, chicken bekakak, live chicken, raw and cooked meat, grilled catfish, grilled cork, tumpeng, and red and white porridge.”

According to Ki Dalang Sukarlana, who is also the coordinator of the Betawi puppet show at the Wayang Museum, there are still around 30 puppeteers in Jakarta. Some of them already
Elderly. They live in the suburbs or buffer zones of Jakarta, such as Tangerang, Depok, and mostly in Bekasi around Tambun. “Between
They have Niin, Neran in Cibubur, Oking and Komplong in Munjul, Asmat in Cijantung, Saan and Bonang in Jagakarsa, Marzuki and Rindo in Cakung,” he said.
mention a few names.

According to Sukarlana, these dalangs have skills that are passed down from generation to generation, family knowledge that can span more than four generations. Currently, Dalang Sukarlana is starting to pass his masterminding skills on to his son, Karjan Sukarlana. This kind of method is the main feature in the inheritance of traditional knowledge, although its effectiveness is doubtful. (M-4)


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