Braving the cool evening weather, people were thronging the Kidal village road in Tumpang, 20 kilometers west of Malang, East Java, as colorful spotlights from all corners illuminated a temple area where a traditional mask dance, called the Panji Singosari, was to be staged.
Classical Javanese tunes with gamelan accompaniment could be heard from afar, while the sweet smell of incense pervaded the air in the environs of the temple.
The Kidal Temple was a Hindu place of worship established by the Singosari Dynasty. It became a landmark of the Hindu kingdoms in the subsequent eras in East Java.
The show was performed by the Damaputera Raharja art troupe and the Asmorobangun Malang style mask dance studio and also involved local players around the temple.
This time the Panji Singosari mask dance presented Madek Nagari Singhasari, a story about the founding of the Singosari Kingdom by the commoner Ken Arok.
The drama was portrayed by 60 players against the background of the Kidal Temple and beneath the moonlight.
“The dance conforms to the original story, with the full moon in the dry season. Under new norms, the show attempts to match the masks with the characters represented,” said
chief organizer Dita Maulina.
The show began with players performing an introductory dance in the temple yard, accompanied by gamelan music amid cheers and applause from spectators who broke the
silence of nightfall. The dancers displayed their masks that depicted the fi gures of the Singosari Kingdom, such as the fi rst king Ken Arok, Tunggul Ametung, Ken Dedes, Empu Gandring, Kebo Ijo and the king of Kadiri, Kertajaya.
“I’m happy to be able to watch Malang’s cultural performance with my children. Traditional shows as public entertainment for local residents are now rarely staged,” said Sucipto, a visitor.
At the end of the two-hour dance drama, jaranan [bamboo horse dance players] emerged from the right side of the temple yard to wind up the event.
words and photos : Aman Rochman