Crek... Nong! Crek... crek... Nong! Tok... tok creng... Tong! The deafening sound of Chinese musical instruments, like gembreng (flat gong), gwik gim (guitar), pengling, munyu and bek to, accompanied by Chinese songs and wooden flutes, cymbals and drums, ricocheted at the Kampoeng Tempo Doeloe in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.
Behind the 2 meters by 2 meters red screen, puppet master Subur brought puppets to life with his deft hands and with Chinese words, immediately followed by an Indonesian translation for the benefit of the non-Chinese speaking audience, during the Jakarta Fashion and Food Festival, which will run until May 23.
All Subur's scenes were taken from classic stories from the mainland China kingdoms, including the legend of Kera Sakti (mighty monkey).
Subur's assistant and son, Alfan, helped to sort out characters during the play, while three musician-puppeteers evoked a Chinese orchestra to provide a classic Chinese atmosphere.
Subur and the rest of the puppet show crew were all Javanese from Jombang, East Java. The show leader, Tok Hok Lay, alias Tony, was the only band member of Chinese descent.
Potehi (Poo Tay Hie) originates from the words: poo (cloth), tay (bag) and hie (puppet). The Potehi puppets are made of cloth.