Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ki Ledjar Subroto's Vivid Shadow Puppets

In the hands of Ki Ledjar Subroto and his grandson Nanang Ananto Wicaksana, wayang shadow puppets are no longer the demure traditional Javanese characters, moving slowly and gracefully, casting their shadows on a large white screen.

Their wayang puppets are vivid, colorful and full of life.

At this year’s re-opening of the Museum Nusantara in Delft, the Netherlands, Ki Ledjar’s puppets danced, galloped on horses, boarded ships and shot at one another, regaling the story of William of Orange, the founding father of the nation.

The museum, which focuses on Indonesian history and culture, had been closed for two years for refurbishment before it reopened this month.

For the re-opening ceremony, the museum ordered two sets of wayang characters representing the history of William of Orange. One set will be displayed among the museum’s collections. The other will be used for wayang shadow puppet performances for special events at the museum.

“By staging the history of William of Orange using wayang puppets, the museum wants to show that there aren’t too many differences between Asia and Europe,” Dr. Hedi Hinzler said. “These wayang puppets could become a bridge to connect the East and the West.”
Hinzler is a patron of the museum, who also teaches archeology and Asian cultures at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

Full story by Sylviana Hamdani

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