Anytime I get confused about where to go to Jakarta, Kota Tua is always a helpful option for me. This Jakarta Old Town complex has a lot of attractions to see. Fatahillah Square, as the center of the complex, is surrounded by a couple of interesting museums to see, from Jakarta History Museum, Fine Art and Ceramic Museum, to Wayang Museum.
This Time, I prefer to visit Wayang Museum. Even though I’ve been there before, I haven’t got the time to mindfully enjoy the items displayed. I also haven’t taken photos to keep as my blog materials. Thus, I think this is a good time for exploring it alone and being not in a rush to enjoy every corner of it.
Wayang Museum is dedicated to exhibiting various kind of wayang from all over the world. Anyway, the term of wayang itself, especially for Javanese people, refers to storytelling through shadows thrown by objects resembling human, animal, mythical creatures. However, now wayang refers to any puppet with different kinds of form, material, and style.
Before exploring the world of wayang at the museum, it’s interesting to pay attention to the building itself. The building is so vintage. It was built in 1912 with Neo-Renaissance style. Furthermore, it had changed its function many times until it becomes Wayang Museum. As additional information, the site of the museum is older that I assume. In the past, the site was the church area which was built in 1640 which had passed through time until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1808.
Wayang Museum was inaugurated in 1975 by Ali Sadikin, governor of Jakarta at that time. It displays more than 5,000 collections of Wayang and has become a reference for many people from various countries to know about wayang. On certain occasions, it also conducts a class for people to learn to make wayang.
Those collections really mesmerize me. The diversity of wayang as a product of artistic culture is so beautiful to see. As a person who comes from Solo city of Central Java, I’m definitely easily attracted by Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppets) collections. Wayang kulit is a flat object made from buffalo leather and painted artistically. It is represented through various characters for various stories, especially about Ramayana and Mahabharata. Wayang Kulit theater itself has been acknowledged as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2003.
Moreover, I also see a lot of collections of Wayang Golek. This three-dimensional wooden rod puppet is originally from West Java. The colorization and the costumes for Wayang Golek’s characterization are so interesting to explore.
Another interesting wayang to see is Si Gale-Gale from Samosir island of North Sumatra. This wayang is usually performed in that original place during a funeral. The performance is to entertain people who grieve for the death of their family member.
The more I explore, the more I know that there are so many wayang creations from Indonesia. It includes Wayang Beber which is a set of scroll-painted clothes used for presenting the story. There is also Wayang Suket, the simple wayang made by suket, the Indonesian word for grass. Furthermore, I also meet Ondel-Ondel, the authentic giant doll from Jakarta commonly performed as entertainment.
The exploration doesn’t end yet. There are also many collections of wayang from other countries like China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Suriname, Cambodia. There are also many kinds of puppets from European countries.
Visiting Wayang Museum is entertaining. I explore and get insights not only about wayang knowledge but also about how I can appreciate wayang as the work of artistic culture. The concept of wayang gives me an understanding of the nature of human to share stories which have developed through centuries in various forms. Wayang is a unique way to deliver a symbolic message for audiences and I have to appreciate Wayang Museum for preserving this unique and beautiful culture.