Friday, March 17, 2017

Wayang Kulit Jawa in Malaysia | #RentakSelangor

Nasi Ambeng, Ketiwol, Adat Berjojak and Adat Lenggang Perut are among the Javanese custom and delicacies adapted by us local Malaysian, especially in Selangor and Perak; where the Javanese communities are the largest in Malaysia.

The origin
During British and Dutch colonization in the 19th century; in the effort to establish Selangor, labour was highly seek after to clear the land for infrastructure and agriculture. Thus, the Javanese and Buginese were brought in to develop the vast virgin forest of Selangor. The Javanese population grew especially in areas such as Tanjung Karang, Sabak Bernam, Kuala Selangor, Kelang, Banting and Sepang where they still converse in Javanese language/dialect, upholding and practicing their Javanese culture and customs. Kuda Kepang, Kompang Jawa or Kompang Tiga, and Gamelan are among the culture and heritage they brought in with them.

In the present day, their livelihoods mostly depend on agriculture - paddy field and palm oil plantation. It is said that the earliest Javanese settlement in Selangor was in at Kampung Sungai Haji Dorani, Sabak Bernam district, in Selangor. Hence, it come as no surprise that the custom, belief and culture is upheld strongly here, Javanese delicacies are easily accessible, and it is common to find and hear the locals here conversing in Javanese language/dialect.

The Art – Wayang Kulit
The Javanese influence is visible in the traditional musical instrument and performance, it is strongly represented in Wayang Kulit Jawa which is still being practised and showcased in Kuala Selangor. Accompanied by a gamelan ensemble, wayang kulit or shadow puppet performance is synonymous to the Southeast Asia region, namely Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. 

Wayang Kulit Jawa
Originated from Indonesia, wayang kulit has received UNESCO recognition as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003. Upon making its presence in Kuala Selangor; Malaysia, the local ie Javanese communities has preserved this culture and heritage by training apprentices at their tender age and instill the love of traditional art.

Javanese Gamelan musical instrument,and Mahabrata and Ramayana story and characters are the key element of Wayang Kulit Jawa, maintaining the basic features of Indonesia’s wayang kulit purwa. The art of wayang kulit was said was invented by Wali Sembiland or the Nine Saints who uses music, performances and art as a way to interact and bridge the local culture thus converting Java to Islam.

From its birth place in East of Java, Wayang Kulit Jawa is largely performed by the Javanese communities here in Kuala Selangor, and it is very much different from the Wayang Kulit Siam in Kelantan, Wayang Kulit Gedek in Kedah and Wayang Kulit Melayu, Terengganu.

Back in those days, Wayang Kulit Jawa was performed during planting/seeding as well as harvesting time to seek blessing from mother nature and to thank for a bountiful crop season. Now, it is mostly being presented in special events and festivals.

Other type of Wayang Kulit in Malaysia

Wayang Kulit Melayu
Influence by Wayang Kulit Purwa that focuses on Mahabharata story side from Pendawa Lima and Panji, Wayang Kulit Melayu puppets looks similar to Wayang Kulit Jawa. However, a Malay rebab with 2 strings intertwined the Malay and Javanese musical culture. Unlike Wayang Kulit Jawa, Wayang Kulit Melayu is narrated in Malay language but with a touch of Javanese influence. Due to limitation in experienced tok dalang or puppet masters, Wayang Kulit Melayu is rarely performed.

Wayang Kulit Kelantan
Also referred to as Wayang Kulit Siam, it is believed to originate from Cambodia and brought it to Peninsular Malaysia via Patani in Thailand. It is practice and performed commonly in Kelantan and Terengganu. Hikayat Seri Rama is the epic story Wayang Kulit Kelantan is based on where in the past, it is served as a ritual. Today, it is performed as a form of entertainment ceremonial and official event.

Historically, wayang kulit is practice and performed to praise and devotion to wise one (tok guru/teacher), during healing ritual or spirit worshipping ritual as well as during harvesting festival.

Wayang kulit or shadow puppet theater portrays how the society feels back then, being represented in a form of art and music. Not only as a symbol of entertainment but also describe values, life, beliefs norms and heart of the locals back then. And this was clearly seen and captured in #RentakSelangor; The Breathing Pulse of Our Land.

Rentak Selangor Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor), Tourism Selangor and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

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