History and Development of Aspects on Ludruk Setting During the Colonial Period in Indonesia

Term Paper, 2019

20 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Rites, Modernization and Imperial Hegemony

History and Development of Aspects on Ludruk Setting During the Colonial Period in Indonesia

Nowadays, if we ask an Indonesian about ludruk, most of them would assume that ludruk as one of the traditional art performances. After the Indonesian independence, particularly during the Soeharto period, ludruk is apparently "retreated" became traditional theatre. Before that, ludruk was an art performance that finds its way to modernization. The researchers admit that during colonialism, ludruk in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, was a part of “the culture of modern society". This study analyzes ludruk in the colonialism era, particularly the transition from the Dutch to the Japanese colonialism in Indonesia, since, ludruk could reach its peak of development at that time. Ludruk no longer holds its ritual values, even it evolves from an entertainment to a performance that served as a political movement.

Ludruk is distinguished from other ancient Javanese theatrical form, wayang. Wayang nowadays is still considered as traditional Javanese theatrical form. Both wayang and ludruk grow in the Javanese speaking area. Wayang grows and is preserved most of the time inside the palace wall, while ludruk, as a part folk theatre, is well practiced by the folk. Another purpose of this study is to analyze ludruk in related to wayang as indigenous theater and by approaching and compared their elements and to see the possibility of nonindigenous theater influence on ludruk This study is based on several articles, journals, essays, dissertations, and books. Art and culture in the Indonesian archipelago have been researched quite a lot, not only by Indonesian scholars but also by foreign researchers. Ludruk itself has been also widely researched. James L. Peacock (1968) in his book Rites of modernization studies widely about ludruk. His research focuses on ludruk in the pra-Soeharto era. Another source is a study about religion in Java by Geertz (1959). His study focuses on the Javanese ritual ce remo ny—slametan. He also mentions that ludruk, like any other the Javanese theatrical forms, is based on the religious ritual ceremony. Another interesting source is from J. Ras (1979) Javanese literature since independence. It is a collection of articles in Javanese languages. One of its articles reported a chronologically ludruk history and its developing, which is written by Ki Soemadji Adjiwongsokoesoemo.

Introduction to Ludruk

The concrete date, when the first ludruk was staged, is obscure. Many chronicles noted that the word "ludruk" first emerged in the early 20th century. Indeed, in this period there were quite a lot of ludruk performances. But a long time before, some data describing theatrical forms similar to ludruk are found in the 13th-14th century. It was in the Majapahit era, the greatest empire ever existed in the Indonesian archipelago. Its history of Majapahit is chronicled in an epic poetry Negarakertagama, “The relationship of early 14th century references in the Negara Kertagama of a roaming female singer/dancer, known as the teledek, to the origins of the tandak ludruk is remarkable and worth speculating on.”1 Another opinion supporting this information comes from Peacock (1968), he explains that ludruk existed in 1822 in a form of, “a clown, who told funny stories, and a female impersonator “.2 Both, a clown and a female impersonator, are ludruk elements, so he concludes that it was a ludruk.

Hefner ((1994) p. 77) mentions ludruk bandan which has emerged in the 13th- 15th century. Ludruk bandan performs human mystical power. For instance, the actor cut his skin off with a knife, but he is not bleeding, set his body on fire but his body did not burn, or he can set his body to suddenly disappear, and other similar bizarre actions base on mystical power. In Javanese, those mystically things are called ilmu kanuragan which are linked to animism in Javanese society as Javanese Hinduism has strong beliefs in animism. It is closely affiliated to almost Javanese rituals, Hefner, C. (1994) writes as follows, “Ludruk bandan refers to a Hindu-Javanese religious mystical performance in which a person in trance performs a number of feats. It is based on the inner strength and spiritual power of a participant to repel pain and suffering inflicted upon him by another person.”3 Some of the ritual similar to this type are still found in Java. It is closely related to their supernatural beliefs in which spirits give them power. According to the information above, I note some points: Ludruk ist most likely appear before the 15th century. It is part of the old culture in Java. It emerges in forms of ludruk bandan and the teledek dancer.

Several studies chronicle about ludruk lerok or lerok ngamenA The first emerges lerok ngamen in the early 1900s. Ludruk lerok or lerok ngamen: is a singing and dance performance in around 16th century. The word lerok refers to Lyra, the name of an instrument in gamelan. “Lerok ngamen performers danced and sang poetic lyric about everyday life. Typically, they wore a res blouse (kebaya), batik skirt (kain batik) and a long scarf (sampur).”4 5 This singing clown and this gamelan music are still used in the latter ludruk form.

The other ludruk type is ludruk besut. It is chronicled in the early 20th century. (Peacock, J (1968, p 29-30), Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994, p. 81) mention the same year). They describe also similar information: It is the story about the clown named Besut and his girl Aminah. An actor on a show ludruk besut can play more than one character. Unlike the former ludruk, ludruk besut uses melodrama plays. But it still preserves the dancer and the singing poetry (kidungan). Ludruk besut also keeps its spiritual values. A Besut actor is the chosen person, who serves as an intermediary between villagers and the spirit.

Years afterward, emergences several different forms of ludruk. Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994, p.87) mentions about ludruk sandiwara. Unlike ludruk besut, this type of ludruk uses daily life or social life problems as its themes. Its spiritual value does not longer appear, but it still uses some aspects of ludruk besut: ngremo dance, kidungan, and dagelan. This type of ludruk is quite similar to recent ludruk. Peacock explains its structure as, Every ludruk performance opens with a dance called the ‘ng remo ' that is performed by a man dressed in bizarre black men's or women's clothes. („Ng remo, „ which means „rapture dance, „ represents, in classical versions, all phase of lovemaking , from preparation to consummation; so it is fitting that ng remo opens ludruk, as one Javanese said, „by seducing the spectator into the show.“) After the ng remo, the dagelan begins; a single clown sings, soliloquizes, then engages in a dialogue with a second clown, all of which leads into a comic skit. After the dagelan a female impersonator sings and dances. That is usually a melodramatic story with many comic episodes. Selingan (interludes) by female impersonators are presented between scenes of the melodrama. In commercial performances the ng remo lasts about half-an-hour, dagelan about an hour, melodrama about two hours, and all the selingan together consume another hour; so, the total performance lasts about and half hours.6

Peacock does not mention kidungan, but I assume, kidungan can be part of dagelan or selingan since the clown on dagelan also sings. Hefner, C. (1994) writes, “The art of kidungan is an important poetic form of expression of indigenous origin used by the singers and clowns in ludruk.”7 From the information above, it is obvious that the primary ludruk elements are; Remo dance, dagelan and kidungan.

Undoubtedly ludruk exists in Java since pre-colonialism. The Dutch first came to Java around the 16th century. People from Asia e.g. China, Arabs, India came to Indonesia probably years before. Since then, Surabaja, the capital city of East Java, where ludruk grows rapidly, was a "melting pot", a multicultural society. Cohen, M. (2001) emphasizes that in that period, Surabaya is a major theatre city.8 The Dutch, for their entertainment purpose, built a certain building where staged numerous European troupes, so that foreign theatrical forms came to Surabaya. The other nonindigenous troupe which also came to Indonesia is from India-Persia, known as komedie stambul or stambul. The first emerged of this troupe around the 18th century. In contrast to ludruk, stambul is a music drama or operetta featuring Thousand- and One-Nights folk tales.9 This troupe may slightly influence indigenous theater in Java such a ludruk as Peacock mentions, It is not clear to me what influences stambul had on ludruk stories, but I have been told that ludruk took some elements from stambul; for example, the red cap of Besut and a rose backdrop which transvestite singers use today are supposed to have come from stambul. (Peacock, J. (1968) p. 57)

Since foreign theater has arrived in Java, an intercultural contact may unavoidable, thus, may influence in various ways. Ludruk responds and molds external artistic resources to fit its forms. For instance, it no longer used the mystical elements and uses the “real” daily circumstances as the source of its play instead.

Ludruk mundane themes are taken from social problems in daily life, the problem that normally occurred in middle-class economy families. This consequently can by paying attention to the participants of the ludruk. “Ludruk participants, whether actors, directors, troupe managers, writes, or spectators, can be described as Javanese abangan proletarians.” (Peacock, J. (1968) p. 19) Proletarians are the working-class person, in Java, it refers to kampung -dwellers. In Javanese social systems, prijaji refers to aristocrats, and kampung is the "low class" inhabitants. Kampung in the Indonesian language means a particular type of district, it is neither a city nor a village. Peacock describes kampung forms as “a kind of village within the city.”10 Almost all of the kampung dwellers are from low-class society. They represent proletariats, who must struggle and work hard for a living, has a modest life, the opposite life from the prijaji. Thus, their close to the mundane problem and slightly lost their religious belief, which is called as abangan. Abangan in Javanese terms is people who “do not seriously follow the rules of Islam” (Peacock, J. (1968) p. 18). Wayang is rich with religious ritual values, life lessons, and symbols. Kampung dwellers seems to keep the distance with such matters.

Javanese social class distinction also a matter of their worldview, alus (refined) and kasar (crude) values. Geertz describes as follows, “Alus means pure, refined, polished, polite, exquisite, ethereal, subtle, civilized, smooth Kasar is merely the opposite: impolite, rough, uncivilized; a badly played piece of music, a stupid joke, a cheap piece of cloth.”11 Geertz explains furthermore about the term of alus- kasar from the prijaji point of view, whereas Peacock describes alus - kasar from a proletarian point of view, both Peacock and Gertz descriptions lead to one conclusion that alus tends to prijaji attitudes and kasar to peasant or proletarian group. For instance, alus and kasar use to contrast prijaji attitudes and not prijaji attitudes, high Javanese language with low Javanese language, the court- etiquette and uncivilized, an expensive and cheap cloth, polite and impolite, and forth. Other Javanese terms of ideology are madju and kasar. “The other scheme could be called an ideology. It is based on a modern distinction, important in Indonesian social and political thought, between madju (progressive) and kuna (conservative) attitudes toward modernization.” (Peacock, J. (1968) p. 7) Madju depicts attitudes toward modern culture and is opposed to the kuna, which refers to outdated culture. These madju - kuna and kasar - alus values are symbolized on ludruk expressions as well as other old Javanese theatrical form, wayang.

Indigenous Theatrical Forms and Ludruk

This section describes common overviews of indigenous performances in Java, which existed before ludruk period and its relation to ludruk development. A sentence from Schechner may suits to this theme, “No culture is ‘pure' —that is, no culture is ‘itself.'”12. From 13th to 14th century, almost all of Indonesian archipelago was under the Majapahit Kingdom. Majapahit, the East Java Kingdom, was the largest Hindu- Buddhism kingdom ever exists in Indonesian archipelago. Concerning Hinduism in India, Hinduism in Majapahit has similar gods, uses Sanskrit and old Javanese as their language which chronicled in temple relief and old manuscripts. It is not clear how India culture arrives and influences culture in Java, nevertheless, Javanese culture develops its own culture, and not just a copy of Indian-Hindu.

The earliest theatrical form that has been ever found in Java, according to Brandon, is wayang.13 Another source chronicled that wayang is probably more than a thousand year old, “The earliest record confirming the existence of the shadow play in Central Java dates from 907 A.D.”14 There is still a controversy of the wayang origin, as Brandon ((1967) p. 42) explains that wayang could be influenced by China or India. India influences supposedly by using the Mahabarata, story based on Hindu beliefs in wayang play. Nevertheless, wayang grows somehow and becomes a Javanese culture. Wayang in old Javanese language means “shadow” or “shadow play.”15 Thus, Wayang refers to a shadow puppet play. There are numerous types of wayang. This essay will concentrate on wayang wong and wayang kulit, since these two kinds of wayang are more relevant to ludruk. Wayang is a representation of the prijaji (aristocrat) culture compares to ludruk as kampung-dwellers (low class) culture reveal a dialectic of Javanese worldview.

Wayang wong is a human version of wayang.16 Wayang or wayang kulit is a shadow puppet play, featuring dalang (the puppeteer) and gamelan music. Wayang wong has invented by the king of Mataram in Central Java, Sultan Hamengku Buwana I, in around 1755, as Kartomi writes, “Yogyakarta tradition attributes the origin of its wayang wong to its first Sultan: Hamengku Buwana I (1755-92), who is said to have devised the performance of human actor-dancers of stories from the wayang kulit repertoire, ”17 The other source speculates that wayang wong has emerged in the Hindu period. Based on temple relief and ancient Javanese manuscript, wayang wong is originally a dance theatrical form that already emerged in the 10th century which chronicled as wayang wwang as Soedarsono mentions, “The dance drama, which was possibly a counterpart of wayang, was called wayang wwang in Ancient Mataram. Wayang in old Javanese means “shadow” or shadow play”, and wwang “human being’. Thus, wayang wwang was a wayang performance in which the puppets were replaced by human dancers. The earliest written record confirming the existence of wayang wwang in Ancient Mataram dates from c. 930 A.D., in the Wimalasrama inscription.” (Soedarsono(1983) p.3-4)

Wayang wong by Sultan Hamengkubuwana I was the revival of the ancient wayang wwang. Soedarsono concludes as follows, “Thus it is quite possible that the reason why Sultan Hamengkubuwana I created wayang wong, besides its ritual aspects, was revive the long forgotten East Javanese wayang wwang order to further legitimize his kingdom as the true descendant of Majapahit.”18

Wayang wong is not a cultural extension forms of intercultural contact with modern western influence theater such a stambul or komedie stambul. The arrival of komedie stambul in later periods could potentially affect to latter wayang wong forms. But it is not the case, although komedie stambul is quite popular among the folk. As Cohen writes, “A brief excurses is required at this juncture to discuss an antithetical form of theatre which did not emerge out of the Parsi model. This is commercial wayang wong, which could potentially have played similar role to that eventually fulfilled by the Komedie Stamboel. It might have become a major template for a large range of Indonesian popular and folk genres. Wayang wong did not develop in such a fashion.”19

Wayang wong has different attitudes from the folk theater. Folk theater, such as ludruk, grows and develops in rural areas. As a part of court art, wayangwong is restricted to the court. The royal should preserve their cultures, to keep them privilege among the folk outside the court. It is also related to religious ritual and political backgrounds, and the royal considerations, as Soedarsono ((1983), p. 48) explains, “the kraton of Yogyakarta has always been considered a strong preserver of court tradition, and furthermore wayang wong was considered a pusaka (heirloom).“ Wayang wong or the court art in common, does not want to open himself up to foreign influences or the like, in another sense, it is quite conservative, while ludruk, as folk art, on the contrary. Thus, it denotes court art, wayang wong as a kuna and ludruk, the folk art as madju.

The origin of wayang wong, wayang wwang, is in forms of both masked and unmasked dance. Since the wayang wong is formed by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I at Kraton Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Palace), wayang wong is inherited to the next kings. The king's decisions affect to wayang wong development and wayang wong is preserved only inside the palace wall (court). It also impacts the spread of wayang wong kraton outside the court, according to Soedarsono, “Since the Sultans of Yogyakarta focused their interest on wayang wong, wayang topeng was only preserved outside the kraton's walls, especially in the villages.”20 Wayang topeng literary means masked dance. Wayang topeng dance as it spread outside the court, evolves as a folk dance, like ronggeng or teledek. In the villages, this teledek or ronggeng evolve regarding the village's attitudes, as a “cheesy” entertainment and often are associated with prostitution, as Peacock mentions, “Such a dancer is a woman, often a prostitute, or a man impersonating a woman”21. A ronggeng or teledek dancer, who does not want to be related as a prostitute, chooses not to dance in the show, but just sit and sing (without dance). This singer then called pesindhen, who sing accompanied by gamelan music in wayang performances, as Cooper (1994) explains, “For this background, about a century ago, what were called pesindhen, emerged with their separate art form of singing without dancing, which seemed more ‘respectable' for the times. These women were not as directly involved in rituals dealing with fertility, were not organized as prostitutes, and did not dance, but rather sat politely (sila) with the gamelan."22

In conclusion, Wayang wwang is the ancient dance in Java on which both court and folk traditional dances are rooted. The wayang wong is a revival of wayang wwang which is developed by the Sultans Yogyakarta inside the palace. It is quite convincing if dance in ludruk is similar to these types of classical dance.

Since it was established by Sultan Hamengkubuwana I, wayang wong was inherited and developed in the palace to the next kings until the end of the 30s. As a court art and tradition, wayang wong is performed for certain occasions in the court, such as a wedding ceremony and it evolves regarding to several factors which are occurred in the court, Soedarsono ((1983)p. 185-186 ) concludes as follows, “the political background of its creation; the time arrangement of its performance; the place where the Sultan was sitting to witness the performance; the prayer at the end of performance; and the occasions when wayang wong was performed.” Wayang wong dance reaches its peak by Sultan Hamengkubuwana VIII in the late 20s and early 30s, as he had held big wayang wong performances. Although wayang wong development had strongly influenced by the king's decisions, the kings still keep its purity, since wayang wong is pusaka (heirloom) of the palace. After Indonesian's independence, People outside the court begin to practice wayang wong dance through the dance schools.23

The indigenous dance forms, wayang wong, and teledek or ronggeng seem to be primary influences ludruk dances. The first influence is by wayangwong. “Ludruk dances have incorporated some stylized srimpi or wajang wong motions.” (Peacock, J. (1968) p. 52)). Thus, it is related to the two main dance wayang wong composition; bedaya and srimpi, “The bedhaya in the kraton (palace) usually enacted a fight between two main characters of the composition, while the srimpi was a choreography in pairs, depicting a fight between two heroines.” (Soedarsono (1983) p. 147). Like any other court art, srimpi and bedaja, represent the “high” culture or in this case, is exemplified as alus concept. Geertz describes these classical royal Javanese dances as “extremely alus, with graceful, controlled, stylized motions and gestures of arms, hands, and fingers related to the mudras of India.”24 A kampung-dwellers affirming this opinion through a comparison these dances to ludruk, “The opening dance of ludruk (ng remo) has as its purpose opening the performance, just as the srimpi dance does when the king walks into his palace.

But I feel like laughing inside - though I don't laugh out loud - because the ng remo just cheap imitation (palsu).” (Peacock (1968) p. 46)

If srimpi and bedaja are represented as alus culture, dance on ludruk is a kasar culture. I assume this is a form of the conformation of ludruk as folk art. Dance on ludruk could be influenced by these classical dances, but ludruk is trying to release and create its form that fits the ludruk participants or rural community tastes and needs.

The other type of dance that is also related to ludruk is teledek or ronggeng. “Ludruk in all phases of its known development has featured a male dancer impersonating a woman. This dancer was apparently called ronggéng or talédék at the time of Besut and may have been connected with other Javanese dancers called taledek or ronggeng.” (Peacock, J. (1968) p. 52) Geertz mentions ronggeng or teledek dances “as poor imitations of srimpi and the bedaja with elements from folk sources mixed in.”25 From the above opinions, ludruk could be related to both teledek or ronggeng and wayang wong. Dancer impersonating on ludruk reproduces the teledek and ronggeng values, while Remo dance is an imitation of bedaja or srimpi. Ludruk combines both, folk and court art by taking aspects that fit ludruk ideas and needs. It is also obvious that ludruk relatively evolves from the indigenous dance forms. Considering that both wayang wong and teledek or ronggeng seems to correspond, and the fact that wayang wong the revival of wayang wwang, so that I agree with Soedarsono that wayangwwang is the origin of the traditional dances in Java. “Wayang wwang was the only dance drama form in Ancient Mataram of Central Java.” (Soedarsono (1983) p. 85) I don’t see the possibility of foreign theater affecting dance on ludruk. The possibility of foreign dances entering Indonesia is also small. I believe the dance on ludruk is an expression of liberation over imperial ascendancy. I try to illustrate the development of dance on ludruk through Figure 1.

Ludruk still uses gamelan as its music instrument. Gamelan is an ancient music that is not only used by ludruk, but also various old Javanese theatrical forms both in the court and villages, such as wayang, wayang wong, and the folk dance ronggeng or teledek. The first gamelan play is chronicled by a foreigner in Java in the 19th, „The first relatively thorough and sympathetic accounts by foreigners appeared just after the period of British rule in Java from 1811-15, when Raffles and Crawfud published their ‘Histories’ of Java. These two works, together with the Centini, give some information about the musical instruments, instrumental techniques, types of gamelan, musical terms, styles, pieces, and aesthetic principles extant at the turn of the nineteenth century.” (Kartomi, M. (1990) p. 2)

Information regarding gamelan instruments which chronicled by the foreigner in the beginning 19th century is based on the old Javanese manuscripts. But the gamelan music could be already played some periods before, as some evidence refers to the gamelan scene, which is found in temple reliefs in Java.

„The prehistory of Javanese music remains shrouded in speculation and myth, though there are few tangible sources such as excavated instruments (or parts thereof) and temple reliefs of musical scenes from the latter part of the first millennium A.D. For some Javanese musicians and scholars myth is used as an historical framework, for example to reveal the divine “origin” of gamelan. Some Western writers, on the other hand, portray a cyclic theory of Javanese music history which parallels the cyclic musical structure of gamelan works.” (Kartomi, M. (1990) p. 3)

I assume, wayang and gamelan developed side by side, even though they are eventually united since gamelan is a relatively independent musical repertoire and could be involved in any other theatrical forms, rituals or ceremonies. It also can be associated with various complexes of cultural ideas. For instance, gamelan ensemble in the Javanese ceremony called sekaten. 26 Sekaten is a Muslim festival in the Javanese palace, which commemorates the Prophet, Muhammad. The gamelan sekaten played since the 19th century in Surakarta, Yogyakarta and Cirebon royal courts. This gamelan instrument is gathered together with Islam ideas become a musical repertoire, the gamelan sekaten.

Since the 19th century, the foreigner had noted two main toning systems on gamelan ensembles; slendro and pelor. „.the raffles and Crawfurd books make mention of the existence of the two large ensemble types which are dominant all over Java today. These are the gamelan slendro and gamelan pelog, the former tuned to the five-toned, anhemitonic slendro tone system and the latter to the seven-toned, hemitonic pelog. Both sets consist of a combination of loud and soft-sounding instruments.” (Kartomi, M. (1990) p. 5)

Ludruk only uses one of those tuning systems, “Like wajang, ludruk uses only the slendro tuning system.”27 Wayang kulit used only the slendro until the 20th century, then wayang kulit starts to use both slendro and pelog, as Kartomi M.((1990) p. 5-6) writes, „The gamelan slendro was used for the shadow puppet plays falling under the name of wayang purwa or wayang kulit, .. Not until the twentieth century were pelog and slendro ensembles combined in accompaniment to performances of wayang kulit” The reason is that at the beginning, gamelan tuning systems are played only in court, but later, both slendro and pelog are also known by society outside the court, “. single gamelan slendro and gamelan pelog are still quite common in the villages, especially in the poorer areas, where the gamelan pelog in particular id often made of iron instead of the more expensive bronze.” (Kartomi, M. (1990) p. 25) Kartomi explains moreover, “Some dalang of the wayang kulit, especially in rural areas, still prefer to use the traditional gamelan slendro only, as in past centuries. But dalang today seem to prefer to use the complete gamelan slendro -pelog, a practice which is said to have begun in the second decade of the twentieth century.”

From this point can be concluded that wayang and gamelan are part of court culture, until gamelan spread in rural areas, the villages then imitate the gamelan instrument by using cheaper material. As a result, gamelan evolves, not only by the royal but also by the folk.

Ludruk is one of many other folk theaters that prefers to preserve gamelan, as gamelan has a strong root in Javanese music. They preserve the gamelan tones only by hearing, until the 19th century when they tried to write his notation. “Now it was not until the 1880s that the Javanese seriously began to experiment with methods of notating their music. Raffles wrote: the Javans do not note down or commit their music to writing: the national airs, of which I myself have counted above a hundred, are preserved by the ear alone”28

Gamelan in wayang and ludruk has a function in common: to accompany the singing scene. In wayang, pesinden (female singer) sing poetry called tembang. “Behind the dalang as he faces the screen, musicians (nijaga), who play the twelve to twenty instruments of the gamelan ensemble, sit in a horseshoe shape around him. A female singer or two, pesinden, sit behind the dalang in the center of this arrangement.”29 According to Peacock, J. ((1968) p. 54), tembang in wayang has influenced on ludruk, he describes as follows, “A final classical influence on ludruk is tembang. Tembang is a form of classical Javanese poetry which can be sung; to nembang is to sing.” Peacock adds, “The main tembang sung in ludruk is kinanti, “30 In my opinion, tembang not only belongs to wayang. Like gamelan, tembang is an independent music repertoire, which perhaps develops side by side with other art or culture forms. Tembang, gamelan, and wayang have eventually interacted upon each other before it is then allied.

Another important song on ludruk is called kidungan. Kidungan is sung poetry that emerged in Javanese literature in the 14th-century courts of Majapahit and subsequently gained popular appeal.” (Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 8) Furthermore, Hefner explains, “The art of sung poetry known as kidungan is strongly associated with ludruk. Since the 14th century poetic constructions of the Majapahit court poets, this art form has been used to chronicle and address a number of pertinent social, economic and culture issues.”31 Tembang kinanti which is mentioned by Peacock above, is distinguished from kidungan. Tembang is part of a Javanese poetic style, macapat. Wahab, A. ((1986) p. 122) explains as follows, “Macapat consists of ten tembangs: Kinanthi, pucung, asmaradana, mijil, maskumambang, pangkur, sinom, durma, megatruh, and dhadhanggula.” Each tembang has different rules, Tembang Kinanti rules according to Wahab describes as follows, “Kinanthi, for instance, is composed in the following way.

Based on its gatra, a kinanthi consists of six lines. Each line has eight syllables (guru wilangan), and each line ends in a certain sound (guru lagu). “32 In terms of form, kidungan is relatively shorter and simpler than tembang, “kidungan poems consist of phrases in couplets of two lines and often appear in for line stanzas.”33 The first two lines are called sampiran, have no particularly meaning but built the rhyme for the last second lines. Kidungan is closely similar to pantun form found in Malaysia.34 Tembang or kidungan, both are used in ludruk. Tembang, distinguished from ludruk, in terms of forms is longer and more complex. Kidungan seems more often be used on ludruk since kidungan allows the singer to open up space for the interpretation of new ideas.

The Dagelan

Since it has much in common with the dagelan concept on ludruk, punakawan or panakawan in wayang play is often correlated with dagelan. Punakawan is a clown character in one of wayang play, Mahabarata. Mahabarata is played frequently in recent wayang, As Geertz ((1959) p. 263) interviews with a dalang as follows, “My dalang informant said that although he knew the Ramayana stories, he almost never got a contract to perform them.“Mahabarata narrates a war between the five brothers Pandawa and their cousin Kurawa brothers, who numbered a hundred people. Kurawa" s brother seized the state of Astina from Pandawa. This war is known as Bharatayudha. Pandawa is accompanied by Punakawan; Semar, Petruk, and Gareng. Punakawan is portrayed as funny servants, who not only entertain Pandawa but also give advice wisely. Unlike Pandawa and Kurawa, who are members of the royal family, Punakawan seems unrelated to court neighborhood. In many studies, these Punakawan often refer to clown. They impersonate foolish ugly looking guys with mastery to joke, yet they have such a decent and wise personality. Indeed, they play an important role in wayang. Their personage has a number of interpretations. Punakawan can be the incarnation of gods, as a “little people” representatives (proletariat), or as friends, as kawan from punakawan literary means friend in the Indonesian language. Punakawan is not just a clown, they are important messengers.

Several studies chronicled that Punakawan had existed before the Hindu period. ”The wayang kulit clowns may have originated in Java during pre-Hindu times (before A.D. 600)” (Peacock, J. (1968) p. 51) Other source mentions that servant's role has been termed in Gatotkacasraya chronicles by Mpu Panuluh. Gatotkacasraya is evidently older than Majapahit. „There it is told that Abimanyu accompanied by his servants, called Punta, Prasanta, and Juru dyah. According to Van Callenfells all three are genuine panakawans (clown-servants)”35 The Punakawan can be genuine Javanese culture. Punakawan emerged since the ancient period of Java. They play as an oppressed and impoverished person yet can make humor with his misfortune. These genuine characters of punakawan closely related to dagelan on ludruk.

Dagelan in Javanese is literary means a funny situation, Peacock more explains, “Dagelan: comic skit presented before the melodramatic story of ludruk is performed.”36 Dagelan is commonly featured singing and a monologue or dialogue by the clowns. They sing the various type of verses. These verses are a poetic metaphor that involved their expressions, ideas, and also critics. In the ancient period of Java, there was also a form similar to dagelan, named raket performance, according to Soedarsono, “Singing and theatrical performances known as raket plays, also mentioned in the 14th century Negara Kertagama, consisted of contests between two singers or possibly even two musical ensembles.”37 Raket also describes as “light comedy interspersed with songs that were fraught with erotic allusions were performed on these special occasions.”38 The main characters in raket performance are Shori, Tekes, and Gitada.39 Shori played as Panji (male character), Tekes was Candrakirana (female character) and Gitada was the clown servant.40 The raket play which is illustrated in Negarakertagama mentions about joking plays. “Gitada was dressed in some kind of official garb, possibly that of priest. He played jokes and made many jesting and facetious remarks.” (Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994), p. 74) Servants apparently always meant to be jokester, like clown character of ludruk in a dagelan scene.


1 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) Ludruk Folk Theatre of East Java: Toward a Theory of Symbolic Action, p. 67

2 Peacock, J. (1968) Rites of modernization: Symbolic and social aspects of Indonesian proletarian drama, p. 29

3 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 77

4 Peacock, J. (1968) p.27 mentions about ludruk lerok, Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 79-80 gives further information about ludruk lerok.

5 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 79

6 Peacock, J. (1968) p. 62

7 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 8

8 Cohen, M. (2001) On the origin of the Komedie Stamboel. Popular culture, colonial society, and the Parsi theatre movement. p. 325

9 Geertz, C. (1959) The religion of Java. p. 306

10 Peacock, J. (1968) p. 18

11 Geertz, C. (1959). p. 232

12 Schechner, R. (1989) Intercultural Themes. Performing Arts Journal, p. 151

13 Brandon, James R. (1967) Theatre in Southeast Asia, p. 42

14 Soedarsono (1983) Wayang Wong In the Yogyakarta Kraton: History, Ritual Aspects, Literary Aspects, And Characterization, p. 3

15 Brandon (1967) Theatre in Southeast Asia. p. 42

16 Soedarsono (1983) p. 2

17 Kartomi, M. (1990) Music in Nineteenth Century Java: A Precursor to the Twentieth Century., p. 22

18 Soedarsono (1983) p. 46

19 Cohen, M. (2001) p. 323

20 Soedarsono (1983) p. 46

21 Peacock, J. (1968) p 52

22 Cooper, N., & Dewey, Alice G. (1994) The Sirens of Java: Gender Ideologies, Mythologies, and Practice in Central Java p. 60-61

23 See Soedarsono (1983) p. 85

24 Peacock, J. (1968) p. 52

25 Geertz, C. (1959) p. 296.

26 Kartomi, M. (1990) p. 29

27 Peacock, J. (1968) p. 53-54

28 Kartomi, M. (1990) p. 27

29 Brandon, James R. (1970) On Thrones of Gold: Three Javanese Shadow Plays. p. 37

30 Peacock, J. (1968) p. 54

31 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 180

32 Wahab, A. (1986) p. 122

33 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 181

34 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 180 and Peacock, J. (1968). p 55

35 Wieringa, E. (2000) Mpu Panuluh's puzzling Panakawans: Do clown-servants feature in the Old Javanese kakawin Gatotkacâsraya ? 1, p. 246-247

36 Peacock, J. (1968) p. 290

37 Negara Kertagama or Nagarakertagama is an ancient Javanese eulogy written by Mpu Prapanca during the Majapahit era (1365) in East Java, see Soedarsono. (1983) p. 11

38 Hefner, C., & Dewey, Alice. (1994) p. 73

39 Soedarsono. (1983) p. 12

40 Soedarsono. (1983) p. 13

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History and Development of Aspects on Ludruk Setting During the Colonial Period in Indonesia
Free University of Berlin
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colonialism, folk theatre traditional indonesia
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Umi Maisaroh (Author), 2019, History and Development of Aspects on Ludruk Setting During the Colonial Period in Indonesia, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/914894


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