Wayang Puppet Theatre in Indonesia

                                                                                                                  UNESCO proclaimed the Wayang Puppet Theatre as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7th November 2003. It was proclaimed, with 28 other masterpiece around the world, enhancing the first list of 19 cultural spaces and expressions selected in May 2001. The Proclamation of Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity programme was created in 1997 at the 29th session of the General Conference of UNESCO.


Wayang is an ancient form of story telling originated on the Indonesian island of Java. For ten centuries wayang flourished at the royal courts of Java and Bali as well as in rural areas. Today, wayang is practiced not only on Java and Bali, but also on the islands of Lombok, Madura, Sumatra and Borneo, where various local performance styles and musical accompaniments have developed.

Traditionally, Wayang performances took place not only in the courts of kings and noblemen, but also in the compounds of temples or of private families, in village squares and even in theatres. Wayang performers, the dalangs, musicians and singers performed for whoever wished to invite them. Today, as the pressures of modern, urban society are contributing to a disintegration of community and family life, the traditional family rituals which would have included Wayang, are celebrated less frequently, and less elaborately.

In the past, puppeteers were regarded as cultivated literary experts who transmitted philosophical, moral and aesthetic values through their art. The words and actions of comic characters representing the �common man� have provided an acceptable vehicle for criticizing sensitive social and political issues, and it is believed that this special role may have contributed to wayang�s survival over the centuries.

In October 2004, responding to the urgent need to safeguard the traditional Wayang Puppet Theatre, UNESCO proposed a project entitled "Implementation of the First Phase of the National Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Wayang Puppet Theatre of Indonesia, a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".

The objective is to encourage Indonesia to undertake concrete action to safeguard, revitalize, and promote this traditional puppet theatre. Over its 3-year duration, the project will focus on the three main activities, Research & Documentation, Training, and Dissemination. Japanese Funds-in-Trust supports the project for the Preservation and Promotion of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Intangible Heritage Section (ITH) at UNESCO Headquarters, SENA WANGI (the national implementing agency) and UNESCO Office Jakarta are all involved in its implementation.

SENAWANGI, the national implementing agency, is working together with PEPADI (Indonesian Pedalangan Union), private Wayang training centres (PDM & Habirando), STSI (Indonesian Arts University), and ISI (Indonesian Arts Institute). They will establish sanggars in Palembang and Banjarmasin, in order to make inventories and update documentations on sanggars and Wayang practitioners of the five kinds of Wayang such as Wayang Kulit Purwa Surakarta, Wayang Kulit Purwa Yogyakarta, Wayang Kulit Parwa Bali, Wayang Kulit Malangan, Wayang Golek Sunda, Wayang Kulit Banjar and Wayang Kulit Palembang.

SENAWANGI will continue conducting field research and surveys in close cooperation with PEPADI by visiting selected locations such as: Denpasar, Malang, Surakarta, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Sukabumi, Karawang, Jakarta, Palembang and Banjarmasin. As well as inviting the wayang master practitioners and experts from each location to assist in taking inventories and to update documentation on sanggars and wayang practitioners for the five kinds of Wayang.

More information of the Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on First Proclamation, Second Proclamation and Third Proclamation.
For more information regarding activities on wayang www.wayang-indonesia.com.

article by http://www.unesco.or.id/activities/culture/programme/259.php

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