Kelantanese Wayang Kulit

PUSAKA is proud to present, as part of DiverseCity 2015: Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival, Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka from Pasir Mas, Kelantan. The group is led by Abdul Rahman Dollah (Dalang Nawi) and Mohamad Hassan Noor. They are both diciples of the late great Tok Dalang Abdullah Ibrahim, famously known as Tok Dalang Dollah Baju Merah.

The group has performed to great acclaim both nationally and internationally, and just recently completed a US residency with CaravanSerai in a month long tour of 6 cities around the mid-west in Spring 2015.

This performance promises to be special as it will be a special tribute to the legendary Tok Dalang Dollah Baju Merah, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of his passing.

Wayang kulit is a form of traditional theatre found throughout Southeast Asia in which the shadows of carved leather puppets are projected onto a translucent screen known as a kelir. Puppets are usually made from buffalo hide, hence the name wayang (theatre performance) kulit (skin).

While wayang kulit is found primarily in the Malay Archipelago encompassing Indonesia and Malaysia, shadow puppetry is also popular in Thailand and Cambodia. In the larger Asian continent, forms of shadow puppetry exist in China, India and Turkey.

In Malaysia, the most well-known style of wayang kulit is the Wayang Kulit Siam, practised principally in the north-eastern state of Kelantan as well as in the Pattani region of southern Thailand. Other styles of wayang kulit found in the country are the Wayang Kuit Gedek of Kedah-Perlis and the Wayang Kulit Purwo still practised in communities of Javanese-lineage in Johor.

Wayang Kulit Siam is performed in the Kelantanese-Pattani dialect of Malay. Repertoire is largely based on Malay oral and literary versions of the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana, which tell of the adventures of Seri Rama and his consort Sita Dewi.

The principal performer in the Wayang Kulit Siam tradition is the tok dalang (master puppeteer). Besides animating the puppets with action and speech — up to 50 characters and voices — the tok dalang provides narration and commentary, leads the musical orchestra and attends to the ritual aspects of a performance.

Wayang Kulit Siam puppets are intricately carved and vibrantly painted two-dimensional figures made from buffalo hide leather. They comprise a vast array of character types, including hero, heroine, warrior, clown, ogre and magician.

The tok dalang is accompanied by a music ensemble consisting of serunai (double-reed oboe), gendang (double-headed drum), gedombak (single-headed drum), geduk (barrel drum) and the brass percussive instruments, canang and kesi. Among the most important songs of the Wayang Kulit Siam tradition are Lagu Bertabuh, Lagu Seri Rama, Lagu Hulubalang and Lagu Perang.