more about bali hotel
Bali Handicrafts Wholesaler


Search This Site

Wayang Wong

The term wayang will be explained more fully in the section dealing with wayang- wong. Topeng is a wooden mask representing an important figure in the story. The Panji cycle which is made up of original Javanese stories, constitutes the only repertoire for the wayang topeng performance.

The term wayang wong comes from the two wordes wayang meaning shadow and wong meaning man.
To understand more fully the meaning of the term wayang wong it will be necessary for us to study the word wayang. Professor James R. Brandon says that in its narrowest sense the word wayang today designates the flat, leather-carved rod puppet of the shadow play (wayang kulit). In its widest sense the wayang means a dramatic performance, whether the actors be puppets or human beings.

The Dutch scholar G.A.J. Hazeu, in his dissertation dealing with the Javanese shadow play, written at the end of the 19th century, explains the origin of wayang, and its historical and anthropological development. He explains that a wayang performance was actually a religious ceremony.
During the prehistoric period one important aspect of the Indonesian religious life was the worship of their ancestor, from whom they still expected help in this world. This primitive belief, which continued into the period of recorded history permeated their spiritual life. The people made statues of their ancestors which they believed the spirits of their ancestors would then enter. The spirits took the form of shadows, or in Javanese, wayang. These images of ancestors were first made of stone, then of wood and the skins of animals. The shape of the images, whether they were made of stone, wood or leather, was symbolic; they were not made to look like ordinary human beings. The images or Puppets themselves were called wayang and a wayang performance (shadow play) was held to call forth the spirits of the ancestors to enter the wayang.

The performance was always held at night because it was believed that was the time when the spirits of the ancestors wandered about in this world. The person whose duty was to evoke the spirits to enter the puppets was the head of the family, and the duty of the other members of the family was to prepare offerings and join in the saying of prayers. The head of the family spoke of the deeds of the ancestors when they had been alive. As the time went on it was found that the duty of evoking the spirits of the ancestors and narrating their deeds was burdensome and difficult and this function was taken over by a shaman, then by a specialist called the dalang. Hazeu. concludes that the wayang performance is a religious tradition of ancestor worship. The wayang is also an aspect of the ancient shaman belief. The head of the family who evoked the spirits of the ancestors, later the dalang was in fact a shaman, who became the medium linking the spirits of the ancestors with this world.

W. H. Rassers has another theory: he says that wayang is a remnant of an initiation rite for men. The shadows (wayang) represent the spirits of the tribal ancestors, and by producing the

The wayang topeng Yogyakarta style, which appeared in the villages in the middle of the l8th century began to the attention of' the artists from the nobility at the beginning of the 20th cent The wayang topeng was further perfected and developed ill Yogyakarta by the oldest dancing organization Krida Beksa Wirma established in 1918 by Prince Suryadiningrat and Prince Tejakusuma. The stories presented by the wayang topeng were not only from the Panji cycle but taken from other sources as well.