Friday, March 7, 2008

WAYANG BEBER - The Ancient Tradition of East Java

A classical Wayang Beber Performance in 1900

One of some kinds of wayang in East Java is Wayang Beber - they have nearly vanished. The most popular of all forms is Wayang Beber Pacitan. This kind of wayang is neither made of wood not leather but paintings drawn on a scrolled sheets of bark paper. Every scene in the story is painted on a piece of paper in rotation.


Since when this kind of wayang has been found in Pacitan exactly is not known yet, nevertheless the age of the existing wayang Beber has reached an age of 12 generations up to the present.

The performer (Dalang) gives a sign, the gamelan orchestra (or a musician with a violin-like instrument) begins to play and the Dalang unrolls a picture related to the story. Then, speaking and singing, he narrates the story in more detail. In this manner, in the course of the evening he unrolls several pictures. The pictures are shown one at a time and are successively unrolled. Each picture represents a story or part of a story. The story narrated is taken from the life of Panji or a story based on the mythical Javanese Jenggala Kingdom, or the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics. The fiction of wayang Beber performance is not only an entertainment but also as media of education, which principally a crime finally is defeated by virtue.

There are some scrolls owned by some families which are not used for a performance, however in certain months every year they are used as traditional ceremony by cleaning off the magic power in those objects.