The air was cool in Asmoro Bangun training workshop or padepokan in Kedungmonggo, Pakisaji, 15 kilometers off Malang, East Java.
The workshop was the home of Malangan mask dance maestro, called Mbah Karimun. When he died in Feb. 14, 2010, the workshop became the place for artists to study Malangan mask dance and mask making.
To remember him by, artists, students, and Mbah Karimun’s family members held a cultural ritual at his graveyard in Punden, Kedungmonggo. They had this ritual annually.
Artists, Mbah Karimun’s students and family members wore a costume and black headband. Other artists wore Malangan mask dance costumes.
The participants walked 500 meters from the padepokan to the graveyard in Punden by carrying six Malangan dance masks made by the maestro himself wrapped in a white cloth. They also carried flower petals and incense.
Suroso, one of Mbah Karimun’s descendants, said, “The visit to Mbah Karimun’s graveyard is held annually in a ritual called Gebyak Topeng Malangan to preserve Malangan mask dance.”
Upon arriving at the graveyard, the participants put the six masks on the ground, burn the incense prayed and Suroso sang Javanese songs “mocopat”, which conveyed the message that people lived only once and during the only life they had to do good deeds.
After the prayer, the artists danced without any music while the women wash their faces in a spring called “sumber lanang” or “male spring” below the graveyard. The area has another spring called “sumber wedok” or “female spring”. The springs are believed to offer good fortune for the users. [evi]
Words and photos: JP/Aman Rochman