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Friday, January 2, 2009


Topeng Malang, which is often called wayang topeng is now found is several village around Malang, although at one time it reached as far as the area of Tanggulangin and Sidoarjo near the Lapindo mud area.
A performance is usually held to celebrate a wedding, circumcision, for some other special occasion and can take place in the daytime or evening. If the former, the performance usually lasts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while an evening performance might begin at 9 p.m. and last until 5 p.m. Occasionally, the performance might be shortened to two or three hours. The stories usually taken from the Panji cycle, although they are sometimes taken from the Ramayana, Mahabaratha, and Ruatan as well.

The players are all male even female roles being performed by boys. All wear masks (topeng). A troupe usually consists of between seven and ten dancers who may act between 25 and 30 roles using different masks. Thus, 1 person may play 3 and 4 individuals. Each troupe generally owns at least 60 masks. In wayang topeng, the dalang does all the narration, while the dancers move accordingly. Only clowns like Semar, Bagong, and Potrojoyo are allowed to have their own dialogues.
The color of paint and the topeng depicts the characters portrayed. In general, red is used for a coarse of rough characters, white for arrogance, green for wisdom and modesty, pink for cunning and wiliness, yellow for contentment, etc.
Each actor wears different headgear according to the role he has adopted: a crown, hairknot, keling or pogogan made of inlaid leather, painted on the side in a symmetrical fashion. There is also a head covering made of cloth, a kind of headband, and something akind to tophat. A pair of ear ornaments called sumping is worn, with strings of flowers hanging on either side for a length of 25 cm.
The dancers do not wear shirts and some wear prabha. Those playing female roles do, however, wear a kind of chest covering called mekak, or angkin. They also wear rapek, which covers the folds of the kain with one pointed edge on the lefthand side touching the ankle. They wear Panji-panji pants while a sampur is hung from the shoulder.

This kind of art is probably extremely old, even though this particular form has undergone development throughout its history. The oldest is wayang wong which developed in the 11th century. In the time of the Majapahit empire, several terms were used to described the arts of topeng: atapukan, tapel, raket, sori tekes, and so forth.
When the Muslim Sultans of Java were no longer interested in developing topeng, this kind of art moved outside the court where it continued to hold the interest of a wide variety of people.

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