Kulit' or shadow play is an old cultural entertainment using
shadows cast by intricately carved puppets in relaying mythical
parables of good versus evil.
puppets are made of cow leather (kulit) that has been stretched
and dried. The patterns are then carved out, hand painted and held
on banana stems. Good characters will appear on the right side of
the stage while evil characters, on the left. Behind the screen,
backlit by a flickering oil lamp, the dalang (puppet master) will
weave his tale, bringing to live the shadow play.
values are easier to absorb in the form of parables, which is why wayang
kulit flourished in the kampungs.
everyone can be a dalang or puppet master. It takes skill to
handle the puppets with both hands, sing and tap the kechrek
(rattle) with one's foot to signal the musicians and to change the
tone of one's voice to suit the various characters.
Malay culture is a confluence of cultures, as such the wayang
kulit not only depicts scenes from the Hindu epics such as the
Ramayana and the Mahabhrata, but also merges
Kelantanese folklore with elements from the Ramayana.
1990, the conservative Islamic Pas government in the state of
Kelantan prohibited wayang kulit performances on the grounds that
the storylines and some rituals are non-Islamic and such shows are
limited to only tourists in Kelantan. Sadly due to the ban, the dalang
from Kelantan can no longer support themselves and are forced to
work as menial labourers. What was once prized knowledge handed
down from generation to generation is slowly slipping away before
our very eyes.
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