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Indonesian Puppet Theater (Wayang) (Vocabulary)

Jatayus (Jatayu), king of the vultures and aide to Rama, approx. 1970

Jatayus (Jatayu), king of the vultures and aide to Rama, approx. 1970. Indonesia; Cirebon, West Java. Wood, cloth, and mixed media. From the Mimi and John Herbert Collection, F2000.86.49.

Aji Saka: mythical prince who carried Indian culture to Java around the first century CE

bersih desa: ritual cleansing of a village, which is executed once a year in selected villages and may involve a puppet show

buta: demon, or ogre

catrik: apprentice puppet master

dalang: puppet master and narrator of traditional puppet and puppet-based genres

gamelan: orchestra accompanying wayang performances

hanacaraka: the old Javanese (Kawi) alphabet

karangan (carangan): newly invented (“branch”) episode using characters from the Hindu epics

the Mahabharata (Great Chronicle of the Bharata [Barata] Dynasty): the epic story of the struggle of the five Pandava (Pandawa) brothers to regain their kingdom from their cruel Kaurava (Kurawa) cousins

pakem: set (“trunk”) stories from the Ramayana or Mahabharata, in which no innovation is allowed

Panji tales: romance about a prince of East Java

punakawan: jesters

pelog: seven-toned gamelan musical scale used in wayang cepak

purwa (“first” or “original”): a cycle of tales derived from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana

the Ramayana (Life of Rama): the epic story of Prince Rama’s struggle to regain his wife, Sita (Sinta), from the demon king Ravana (Rawana)

ruwatan: healing or protective performance that releases people from the threat of the demon Kala

Semar: jester god of Javanese and Sundanese wayang

slendro: five-tone musical scale with nearly equidistant intervals

Sunda: mountainous region of West Java inhabited by people of Sundanese ethnicity and language

wali: the nine saints who converted Java to Islam

wayang beber: performance in which scroll paintings are narrated

wayang cepak (literally, “flat” wayang): rod puppet performances telling the stories of Prince Panji, of the grasscutter Damar Wulan, and of Amir Hamzah (wayang menak); as well as chronicles

wayang golek: rod puppet theater of the north coast and highlands of West Java (Sunda)

wayang kulit: shadow puppets made from water buffalo hide

wayang menak: rod puppet theater telling stories of Amir Hamzah

wayang wong: human dance drama modeled on wayang puppet theater