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Wayang wong

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Title: Wayang wong  
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Subject: Ketoprak, Surakarta, Mahabharata, Arm ring, Javanese dance
Collection: Dances of Indonesia, Dances of Java, Wayang
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Wayang wong

Wayang wong, also known as Wayang orang (literally 'human wayang)', is a type of classical Javanese dance theatrical performance with themes taken from episodes of the Ramayana or Mahabharata. Performances are stylised, reflecting Javanese court culture:

Wayang wong dance drama in the central Javanese Kraton (royal court) of Yogyakarta represents the epitome of Javanese aesthetic unity. It is total theatre involving dance, drama, music, visual arts, language, and literature. A highly cultured sense of formality permeates every aspect of its presentation. [1]

Wayang gedog, another form of wayang wong performance, is usually considered to be a cross between wayang wong and the Topeng dance. These performances take themes from the Panji cycles stories about the kingdom of Janggala. Players wear masks known as wayang topeng or wayang gedog. The word "gedog" comes from "kedok", which, like "topeng" means "mask". The main theme is the story of Raden Panji and Candra Kirana. This is a love story about princess Candra Kirana of Kediri and Raden Panji Asmarabangun, the crown prince of Jenggala. Candra Kirana was the incarnation of Dewi Ratih (goddess of love) and Panji was an incarnation of Kamajaya (god of love). Candra Kirana's story was given the title "Smaradahana" ("The fire of love"). At the end of the complicated story they finally marry and produce a son. Panji Asmarabangun ruled Jenggala under the official names of "Sri Kameswara", "Prabu Suryowiseso", and "Hino Kertapati".

Originally, wayang wong was performed only as an aristocratic entertainment in four palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta. In the course of time, it spread to become a popular and folk form as well.


  • Dance style 1
  • Performances 2
    • Yogyakarta 2.1
    • Surakarta 2.2
    • Jakarta 2.3
    • Television 2.4
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Dance style

Wayang wong has fixed patterns of movement and costume:

For male performers:

  • Alus: very slow, elegant and smooth movement. For example, the dance of Arjuna, Puntadewa and all other refined and slimly built Kshatriyas. There are two types of movement, lanyap and luruh.
  • Gagah: a more masculine and powerful dance movement, used commonly for the roles of strongly built kshatriyas, soldiers and generals.
    • Kambeng: a more powerful and athletic dance, used for the roles of Bima, Antareja, and Ghatotkacha.
    • Bapang: gagah and kasar for the warriors of antagonist roles such as Kaurawa.
    • Kalang kinantang: falls somewhere between alus and gagah, danced by tall, slim dancers in the roles of Kresno or Suteja.
  • Kasar: a coarse style, used in portraying evil characters such as Rakshasa, ogres and demons.
  • Gecul: a funny court jester and commoners, portraying ponokawan and cantrik

For female performers: Kshatriya noblemen. Costumes and props distinguish kings, kshatriyas, monks, princesses, The movements known as nggruda or ngenceng encot in the classical high style of dance consist of nine basic movements (joged pokok) and twelve other movements (joged gubahan and joged wirogo) and are used in portraying Bedoyo and Srimpi.

Today, the wayang wong, following the Gagrak style of Surakarta, is danced by women. They follow the alus movements associated with a Kshatriya, resembling Arjuna. Following the Gagkra style from Yogyakarta a male dancer uses these same Alus movements to depict princes and generals. There are about 45 distinct character types.


Pandava and Krishna in an act of the wayang wong performance.

Performances of wayang wong are regularly staged in Javanese cultural heartlands; the court cities of Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo). The national capital Jakarta also staged wayang wong performance, although they are sometimes not well-publicised.


A series of well-known Ramayana from the wayang wongdramatic monthly evening performances of is performed all year round at the Prambanan temple near Yogyakarta. The most complete Ramayana wayang wong involving more than a hundred dancers, artists and gamelan musician is performed only during the dry season (usually May to October) on open air large stage against Prambanan Trimurti temples as the background. During monsoon rainy season however, the performance is moved into smaller indoor theatre nearby. In downtown Yogyakarta, on Eastern side of Keraton Yogyakarta, the Ramayana wayang wong is also performed every night, start at 08.00 P.M. at Purawisata theatre, Jalan Brigjen Katamso, Yogyakarta.


Episodes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana are often performed daily in the Wayang Orang Sriwedari theatre Sriwedari Cultural Park at Jalan Slamet Riyadi 275 Surakarta city in Central Java. This daily performance starts at 08.15 P.M. every night, except on Sunday.


In Jakarta the Wayang Orang Bharata group, one of the oldest Wayang orang groups existing in Jakarta, generally stages performances in the Bharata Theatre just north of Pasar Senen near the centre of the city each Saturday night.[2] The Bharata Theatre, which seats around 300 people, was renovated with funds from the Jakarta city government in the early 2000s.[3] The performances are often based around stories of conflict between clans drawn from the Mahabharata. Presentations involve traditional Javanese dancing, stylised fighting, and periods of dialogue, accompanied by music from a substantial gamelan orchestra.[4] Actors representing the well-known Punokawan clowns, including the much-loved Semar, usually involve themselves in the action, often poking considerable fun at the self-important lives that the princes and high-born warriors lead.[5] Ticket prices are relatively modest with even the best seats in the Bharata Theater generally costing (early 2013) less than $US 10 per person.

Other than weekly wayang wong performance of Bharata in Senen area, Jakarta sometimes annually staged special wayang orang performances that might took place in Gedung Kesenian Jakarta near Pasar Baru in Central Jakarta, Taman Ismail Marzuki, or in Gedung Pewayangan Kautaman, near Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. These are not routine performances, the schedule and ticket should be inquired priorly at those performing art theatres. There are several wayang wong troupes in Jakarta such as Swargaloka, Senawangi, Puspobudoyo and Sekar Budaya Nusantara.


Wayang wong performances sometimes are aired in television, such as in TVRI and World of Wayang of Kompas TV.


  1. ^ Garrett Kam, ' in the Court of Yogyakarta: The Enduring Significance of Javanese Dance Drama'Wayang Wong, Asian Theatre Journal, (4) 1, Spring 1987, pp. 29-51.
  2. ^ Edna Tarigan, 'The surviving human puppet show', The Jakarta Post Travel, 24 March 2014. See also Maria Yuniar, 'My Jakarta: Widjarno, Wayang Orang Dancer', The Jakarta Globe, 13 October 2010.
  3. ^ Ani Suswantoro, 'Wayang Wong Bharata survives on love, devotion', The Jakarta Post, 9 March 2008.
  4. ^ Novia Stephani, 'Wyang Orang Star Enjoys Her Second Act', The Jakarta Post, 24 January 2012.
  5. ^ Ani Suswantoro, The story of "Gatutkaca Luweng"', The Jakarta Post, 9 March 2008.

External links

  • Wayang Orang Bharata and Bharata Jakarta in Jakarta
  • Wayang Orang Sekar Budaya Nusantara Jakarta: Lakon Petruk Dadi Ratu TV show in TVRI
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