Anggun Title Discover Indonesia/ Wayang Kulit  
Last update
October 29, 2011
The Dalang

The puppets are stored in line, in a banana tree trunk, behind the screen and in front of the puppeter. The puppeter is called the dalang.

Indonesia Girls

The dalang manipulates the puppets, sings and taps out signals to the orchestra. He also speaks the parts for all characters; he must be able to render the shy sweetness in the voice of a princess, the spiteful whine of a lackey and the righteous but controlled anger of a noble hero.

Arm Dragon Wayang

Not everyone can be a dalang. A Dalang is a most extraordinary man. First of all, he is a public entertainer. To amuse a great number of people is not an easy matter. He must be physically strong and healthy, otherwise he would not be able to stand the strain. Just imagine, he is seated cross-legged for nine successive hours. He cannot even have a wink of sleep. He cannot get up from his seat until six o'clock the next morning. He also has to strike the kechrek (rattle) with his right foot almost incessantly. He handles the puppets with both hands, imitates their different voices, tell jokes at the right times, and even sings every now and then. In addition, he controls the musicians without anyone among the audience ever noticing it.


Dalang Wayang Performance B&W

Dalang are also social commentators. Traditionally when a traveling Dalang arrives at a place where he is to perform, he will make a study of what is on people minds. That may, for example, be governmenl measures which people find hard to accept. During the performance, the Dalang will use the pànàkawan, the servants who make humorous comments, to voice criticism which the audience will relate to. According to tradition, a Dalang cannot be held responsible for what is said in his performance. In feudal society one of the Dalang's main roles was to be a mouthpiece for the people. His ritual immunity protected him.However most of the time the Dalangs were diplomatic in the way they said things, which is how most ofJavanese people behave.

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