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The History of Shadow Puppet

The History of Shadow Puppet

Do you know what the shadow puppet is? Where does it comes from? On September 7th, 2003 stated that shadow puppet is a masterpiece of Oral and Intangible of Humanity. What does it means? It means that Shadow puppet is real a heritage of Indonesia. It is like a Batik. There is no country can claim that Batik and Shadow puppet is from their country. The Indonesian people very love shadow puppet show. Especially for the Javanese people. In a certain event, the Javanese people usually perform the shadow puppet.

Based on the history, shadow puppet found in the first time at 1500 B.C. The ancestors made it using some dry grasses. Very simple. Although it was very simple but it played to worships ancestors’ spirit in Javanese traditional ceremonies.

The Java’s interest with shadow puppets perfoming also influence by spreading Islam in the Java. This influence brings by Sunan Kalijaga. He gave the thought about Islam by performing the Shadow puppet. At this period, the majority people in Java is Hindu and Buddha at the first time. After Sunan Kalijaga thought Islam using shadow puppet, slowly the people change the religion to be Islam. They were attracted to know deeper about Islam.

As the time goes by, the shadow puppet performing begins accompanied with a set of traditional musical instrument named gamelan and singer. The singer called sinden. The transformation in performing makes it more interesting.

The Kinds of Shadow Puppet
There are 8 kinds of shadow puppet. There are :

1. Beber
It is the oldest one. It come in the end of Majapahit kingdom.

2. Purwa
The shape of the Purwa Puppets are shadow puppet (wayang kulit), puppet (wayang golek – likes doll), and the story of puppet that performs by person. It said wayang orang. The people very familiar with the story of wayang purwa. The performing of them sourced from Mahabaratha and Ramayana.

3. Madya
In Madya puppet, it tries to integrate all kinds of puppet to be one unity. It strings the Java history up beggining from several century before to Islam enter Java. In madya puppet the characters begin wearing keris. The material is from leather, inlaid and painted.

4. Gedog
What is the meaning of gedog? Until now, there is no certain explanation about what the meaning of gedog is. Gedog means horse stable. But there is another opinion about what the meaning of gedog is. Gedog is the border between purwa puppet that take the story about Mahabharata and Ramayana with Panji cycle. The others more also stated that gedog from the sound of “dog, dog “. The sound is from the puppeteer’s foot hit the puppet’s box.

5. Menak
Menak puppet material is from leather, inlaid and painted too. For additional, at Menak puppet is also made of wood and liked doll called Tengul puppet.

6. Babad
It is a new form after Purwa puppet, Madya and Gedog. The story is talking about the entering Islam in Indonesia likes the heroic story of Demak kingdom and Pajang.

7. Modern
The kinds of modern puppet such as :
  • Wahana Puppet 
  • Kancil Puppet 
  • Wahyu Puppet 
  • Dobel Puppet 
  • Pancasila Puppet 
  • Sejati Puppet 
  • Budha Puppet 
  • Jemblung Puppet 
  • Dalang Kentrung 
  • Sadat Puppet
8. Topeng ( Mask )
It shows a dancer wearing mask. The mask created likes Purwa puppet suitable with the region where it comes from. So the names are :
  • Malang mask 
  • Madura Pupeteer mask 
  • Java Mask puppet 
  • Cirebon mask 
  • Losari mask 
  • Betawi puppet mask 
  • Bali mask
The Figures
As we know that every stories in perfoming shadow puppet always has own figures. Each stories of puppet has own figures.

There are some Ramayanas’ Figures :

Mahabharata figures are :

Who are Punakawan? Punakawan are a person who serve and care Pandawa. In shadow puppet Punakawan usually appear in goro-goro term. At goro-goro performing there are some jokes and  advices.

There are some versions of Punakawan Central Java and East Java versions
1.    Semar
2.    Gareng
3.    Petruk
4.    Bagong
5.    Togog

Banyumas version :
1.    Semar
2.    Gareng
3.    Petruk
4.    Bawor

West Java version:
1.    Semar
2.    Cepot atau Astrajingga
3.    Dawala
4.    Gareng
5.    Semar
6.    Cungkring
7.    Gareng
8.    Curis Sekarpandan
9.    Bagong
10.    Bagal Buntung
11.    Dawala
12.    Ceblok

Bali version :
1.    Tualen
2.    Merdah
3.    Sangut
4.    Delem

In performing, Punakawan usually accompanies some figures to, they are :
1.    Togog
2.    Bilung
3.    Limbuk
4.    Cangik

One more about shadow puppet. There is character of them that always appear on shadow puppet performing. It usually come out in the beggining and at the end of perfoming. What is it? Yes, It is Gunungan.

What is Gunungan? What is the function of it? Why does it usually come at the beggining or at the end?

Gunungan is a puppet with the shape is mountain with the material in it. Below there is a gate that guarded by two giants hold cudgels and shields. It means that they guard the kingdom gate.

The shape of Gunungan is cone. It means that the existence of human life. The human life is only for God. Gate and two giants are Cingkoro Bolo and Bolo Upoto. It simbolizes heart of human. Good and bad of human character. The shields and cudgels they held symbolize as the guard of dark side and light side in the world. Forest and animal symbolize of humans’ character. The tree also symbolize that God gives the protection for human in the world. Bird and gunungan symbolize that human must make the world and the universe beautiful in spiritual and materials. Bulls symbolize that we as a human must be strong, nippy, and ductile. The monkey means that the human must be able to choose and sorts something is good or bad, sweet or bitter likes monkey. The monkey is clever in choosing the sweet and rape fruit. While the tiger means that as a human we must to be a leader for himselves so he can be wise and control his passion to be better, useful for himselves, the others and the nature. The head means that a human also have a bad character. They are greedy, vicious like evils. Banaspati means that the life in the world is always has many temptations, and danger. The ocean, means human minds. Joglo means a house or country that has a safe, and happiness.

Hubungi Kami


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