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Performing Arts in Indonesia

Art forms are not only based on folklore. Most of them have developed in the courts of former kingdoms so that, like in Bali, they have become part of religious ceremonies. The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali are derived from Hindu mythology and often feature fragments from the Ramayana and Mahabharata Hindu epics.

Puppets of the wayang kulit shadow play are made of intricately carved and colorfully painted leather, while the wayang golek puppets are made of the light but strong arbasiah wood and dressed in batik wooden puppets. Both the wayang kulit and wayang golek theaters are operated by the dalang (puppeteer) who manipulates the puppets and makes them "speak" in different voices and accents according to character age and/or sex. Besides, the dalang must be at the same time a composer, improviser, producer, orator, singer, choir master, dance master and stage manager. Wayang golek and wayang kulit performances are accompanied by the Javanese gamelan musical instruments. The wayang kulit performance is very popular with the people in Central Java, while the wayang golek is generally performed in West Java.

The bamboo angklung musical instruments of West Java and the wooden kolintang of North Sulawesi are widely known. Another kind of musical instrument which is also attractive and unique is the sasando of East Nusa Tenggara. Sasando is a stringed musical instrument made of lontar leaves and is handled like a guitar.

The Bataks of North Sumatra and the Ambonese of Maluku are known for their ability to sing to the accompaniment of the guitar.

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Information provided by the Directorate of Foreign Information Services, Department of Information, Republic of Indonesia.

 


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