Photo credit: Eddin Khoo

Photo credit: Eddin Khoo

WAYANG KULIT (KELANTAN)

Wayang kulit (shadow-play) is a form of traditional theatre found throughout South-east Asia in which the shadows of carved leather puppets are projected onto a screen. In Malaysia, the most distinctive style of wayang kulit is the Wayang Kulit Siam, practiced principally in the north-eastern state of Kelantan as well as in the Patani region of southern Thailand. 

Wayang Kulit Siam is performed in the Kelantanese-Patani dialect of Malay. The wayang kulit repertoire is largely based on Malay oral and literary versions of the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana, which narrate the adventures of Seri Rama, his consort Sita Dewi, and his archrival Maharaja Wana. The main story-line, known as cerita pokok (trunk story), is performed occasionally; minor-tales and sub-plots involving the same characters, known as cerita ranting (branch stories), are far more popular.  

The principal performer in the Wayang Kulit Siam tradition is the tok dalang (master puppeteer). Besides animating the puppets with action and speech, the tok dalang provides narration and commentary, leads the musical ensemble and attends to the ritual aspects of a performance. Wayang Kulit Siam puppets are intricately carved and vibrantly painted two-dimensional figures made from leather. They comprise a vast array of character types including hero, heroine, warrior, clown, ogre, and magician. The musical accompaniment for Wayang Kulit Siam usually consists of gendang (double-headed Malay drum), geduk (Malay barrel drum), gedumbak (Malay goblet drum), gong, canang (brass percussion), and kesi (cymbals), with the serunai (Malay oboe) as the sole melodic instrument.

KUMPULAN WAYANG KULIT
SRI WARISAN PUSAKA

Founded by the late Tok Dalang Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollah Baju Merah), renowned for his dexterity and subtlety as well as his provocative presentation of ‘irreverent’ Wayang, Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka is one of the most accomplished troupes in Malaysia. Now steered by two of Pak Dollah’s senior disciples, Tok Dalang Nawi, and master musician, Abdul Rahman bin Dollah, the troupe has performed to great acclaim throughout Kelantan, Malaysia, as well as internationally, to audiences from all levels of society. In March 2015, Kumpulan Wayang Kulit Sri Warisan Pusaka went on a highly successful month-long residency tour of the United States for the Caravanserai programme by Art Midwest. The troupe has also been actively involved with PUSAKA’s training projects, demonstrating their commitment to the transmission of complete Wayang Kulit knowledge to succeeding generations in Kelantan.

 Photo credit: Achu

Photo credit: Achu