Culture | Saturday, 15 October 2011 | sundanesecorner.org
Banjet mask dance performance by Sinar Pusaka Warna performing group attracted visitors of West Java Cultural Park (Dago Tea House) in Bandung on Friday evening (14/10). The West Javanese folk theatrical dance entitled Pa Bébé Jago Karawang ‘Bébé the Thug of Karawang’, which is well-known in the northern coast region, was also embellished with typical jokes in Sundanese.
Banjet mask dance, which is also known as Pendul mask dance, comes from Tempuran District of Karawang, and it is one of the declining West Javanese folk arts, staged by its fourth generation of performers. It told a story about old Karawang life dominated by thugs or villains.
The performing group led by Jalam Pendul Putra also performed traditional martial arts, which was occasionally ‘intruded’ by the appearance of a funny transvestite, generating laughter of hundreds of spectators coming to the open theatre building.
Banjet mask dance performance is usually staged from 21.00 p.m. to 04.00 a.m. or from midnight to dawn, yet its performance at Dago Tea House was ended at 24.00 p.m. This abridged version was begun with the tatalu or bubuka ‘opening’, which was followed by a mask dance, drama, and bodoran ‘jokes’.
‘If we did not shorten the story, they would have played till dawn,’ said Mas Nanu Muda, curator of West Java Cultural Park.
However, the audience were satisfied. Most of them were Bandung residents coming from Karawang, a residency in the northern coast of West Java. Some students and lecturers of Padjadjaran University and Indonesian Arts College (STI) were also among the audience.
They will even send a letter to West Java Governor and Head of Tourism and Culture Bureau in search of government support in performing folk arts for the sake of cultural education***
Rétno Hériyanto is a Bandung-based journalist of Pikiran Rakyat daily newspaper. Hawé Setiawan translates his article from Indonesian.