Monday, 8 June 2009

Wayang Kulit.


Perhaps i am a bit arty farty today.
Hmmmm....i don't really know why, but maybe after watching Discovery Channel on this 'Wayang Kulit' or in direct English language translation shadow theatre it made me come to think about human behavioural and their interest.

For those of you who do not know much about Wayang Kulit; it is a form of entertainment for small villagers at night after a hard day work. It brings together the playfulness of a puppet show, and the elusive quality and charming simplicity of a shadow play told by the Penglipurlara or storyteller.
Its origin remains a mystery, though it appears to have a strong Javanese and Hindu influence.

Back in Malaysia it is most popular in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, particularly in Kelantan, where it took root more than 250 years ago.
I personally do not know whether it still exist in the village or not.
But somehow, i doubt it.
I remember my late mother-in-law once told me about the Wayang Kulit, and Dikir Barat (another form of singing entertainment but still in existence to date) when we had conversation about Kelantan and the people's favourite things among others. She's a Kelantanese.

According to her, she used to go for Wayang Kulit shows when she was in her teenage whenever they came to town. For your info, this group of people will move from one village to another for their show which will last from two to three days.

See, before any show, the kampung folks will be busy helping out building small stage, while the kids will be in jovial moods that there will be Wayang Kulit showing in their village; those time, there were no such things as cinema, or cable tv. The set up of the small stage is done to accommodate the musicians (playing gemelan insturments), and the Penglipurlara. They will be seated behind a piece of hanged white cloths or cotton screen with an oil lamp as the source of light for the puppet playing.

Unlike modern day projector which needed white material to display the images, Wayang Kulit images emerged on the screen via light originated by the oil lamp.

The puppets that were used for this shadow theater, which is referred to as wayang or 'patung' will be the actor and actress with one voice (i.e. the Penglipurlara) but spoken in different tone of voice.
They also have their own given name according to legendary stories and is believed to have their own spirit too.
Made out of skin (usually of bull or cow and that is why they were called Kulit which mean skin) the puppet were created and carefully chiseled, then painted with colours and have sticks to act as the control rods to move their body, upper arms, and mouth.

Although this Wayang Kulit sounded very boring for us in this generations, the main player in this theatre is the Penglipurlara. He will be telling stories which covers mostly on gossip and contemporary affairs.
He must also poses good creative thinking because he will be telling stories out of any script and very spontaneously.
He will have to be able to create stories because Wayang Kulit stories are not based on reality but more of folklore.
The Wayang Kulit group consist of only man and that includes the Penglipurlara too.

Talking on Penglipurlara, i am wondering whether should the Wayang Kulit be in existence again, or should the Art and Culture Ministry in Malaysia needed one, or should the Malaysian Embassy here wanting to organised a Malaysian Folklore Day, would they consider a woman instead?
Because i know a few women here who can become a very good Penglipurlara........

Hmmmm....any takers?
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