Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta’s Conserves Culture through the Dalang Cilik Festival


Kunta Wijaya started holding the gunungan (Mountain shaped puppet) as a sign of the start of the wayang ( shadow puppet) performance entitled "Kangsa Lena". The young dalang (puppeteer) from Klaten has loved wayang since three years old. Kunta received guidance to learn to perform at the "Omah Wayang" studio led by Kristiaji. The performance of Kunta and several other young puppeteers enlivened the 2022 Festival Dalang Cilik (Young Puppeteers Festival) organized by the Faculty of Language and Arts (FLA) of UNY, which took place from 15-19 May 2022.

"The young Dalang Festival is part of UNY's love sign in preserving the nation's culture. Hopefully, it can provide an example for all of us," said UNY Rector, Prof. Sumaryanto. Meanwhile, the Dean of FLA UNY, Dr. Sri Harti Widyastuti said this activity is proof of UNY's commitment to developing traditional science and culture. "We hope that our young dalang will be able to be future renown dalang," she said.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Sukisno, M.Sn said that the young Dalang Festival was attended by 30 participants consisting of 15 junior high school age participants and 15 elementary school-age participants. "This festival aims to educate children to love their own culture, especially traditional wayang ," said Sukisno. In addition, UNY wants to instill educational values of wayang stories that are performed through this festival. At the same time provide an opportunity to strengthen the mastery of the elements in wayang for the younger generation.

The jury in this festival is Prof. Suminto A. Sayuti from the Faculty of Language and Arts UNY, Udreka, M.Sn from ISI Yogyakarta, and Blasius Subono, M.Sn from ISI Surakarta. In this festival, there are four criteria, namely antawacana, story, sabetan, and musical.

Of the 30 participants who took part in this festival, East Java sent 5 participants, Central Java 9 participants, and Yogyakarta 16 participants. The youngest participant is Muhammad Krisna Aditya from the Bumiretawu Muntilan Studio, who is still in grade 1 of elementary school and will perform on Wednesday (18/5) at 09.00 WIB. In addition, there are two female puppeteers in this festival, namely Sadu Pramesi and Budiana Penty Widya Nada. Sadu Pramesi is the second winner of the 2021 UNY Young Dalang Festival for the elementary student category.  

The Indonesian shadow puppet performance was recognized by UNESCO as a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" on November 7, 2003. UNY, through the Dalang Cilik Festival, is committed to encouraging the preservation of shadow puppet culture from an early age. Wayang kulit shows are not only related to the technical aspects of puppetry, storytelling, and music but are also related to teaching distinctive and meaningful educational values. Sadu and Budiana participation at the festival is also an excellent example of how UNY supports gender equality. In the past, most females in wayang performances had the role of sinden (singer).  For today wayang performance, it is possible for the female to play the gamelan and even perform as a dalang. (Dedy, Tj. Lak)

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