Recognized as national heritage in November 7, 2003, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Indonesian Wayang stands out as an oral and intangible heritage of humanity indeed. In an effort to preserve and prosper this outstanding cultural tradition, the Indonesian Puppeteers Association (Persatuan Pedalangan Indonesia or PEPADI) teamed up with the Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation (YAD) to host the Wayang World Puppet Carnival (WWPC) from 1 to 8 September 2013. Featured at WWPC 2013 were 64 puppeteer groups from over 50 countries. Performances were held in such prestigious venues as the National Museum, National Monument, Usmar Ismail Hall and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.
Participating countries included: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo-Liberia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, plus the Euro-Asian Theatre. Indonesia was represented by: Cahyo Kuntadi, Hadi Sutikno, Apep Hudaya, Sigid Ariyanto, Sihono, and Papermoon Puppet Theatre.
The wayang shadow play, first developed by the Javanese during the Hindu-Buddhist era, was used as a tool for disseminating cultural teachings and values. The tradition then later spread to many parts of the archipelago.
According to the Indonesian National Wayang Secretariat –better known by its acronym Sena Wangi–there are about 60 different types of wayang in the country, which include Banjar wayang and Palembang wayang. Both wayang types were cited in the revitalization and preservation programs executed by Sena Wangi and UNESCO from 2005 to 2007.
The idea of organizing the WWPC emerged after PEPADI participated in the World Puppet Carnival (WPC) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in September 2012. Cahyo Kuntadi group from Indonesia won in the best drama category. Standing at the forefront of efforts to preserve and popularize wayang in its various forms, PEPADI Chairman Ekotjipto was inspired by Indonesia’s win and sought to organize a similar event. While WWPC’s objective is to encourage homegrown puppetry, broaden its audience, bring it back into the performance mainstream, it was important to expose the wayang’s cultural and social dimensions, as well as show how wayang is studied and conserved in other parts of the world.
WWPC also aimed to instill a sense of pride among the younger generations who have yet to recognize that wayang is a precious storehouse of both historical and evolving national identity. “It is our hope that through this event, in which puppeteers from across the
world are able to gather, we can work hand-in-hand to further develop the art of puppetry as World Cultural Heritage.” ~ Hashim Djojohadikusumo (YAD Chairman)
In addition to the performances, WWPC 2013 conducted a seminar and a workshop. The seminar’s theme was “Puppets in the 21st Century” presented by Jerry Bickel, writer and Puppet Director Florida, USA, and Mari Boyd, Professor of Theatre, Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan. The workshop was entitled “Wayang – Indonesian Puppet Art – UNESCO Heritage of Humanity” conducted by the “best Wayang masters from Indonesia.”
A carnival highlight was the WWPC 2013 Awards. Up for grabs were the folowing categories: best animation, best actor, best actress, best director, best scenery, best puppet design, best original performance, best film and best video, which also received USD 1,000 cash prize each. Best children’s performance, best original performance and best artistic creation category received prizes of USD3,000 cash each. The Carnival Grand Prix Wayang Award went to Ki Cahyo Kuntadi from Indonesia with its staging of “Pakeliran Padatsang Kusumayuda” which won a cash prize of USD 10,000.
PEPADI’s Ekotjipto stated his wish that “The convergence of world puppeteers will encourage the development and improvement of our local puppetry arts as well as international ones. One aim of the carnival is to conserve the art of puppetry from Indonesia and other countries.”
– with reporting from Zul Herman
WADAH newsletter | vol.7 no.1 | April 2014 |