The art of wayang puppetry is an important legacy for future generations and a recent gathering of young exponents of the art showed that the tradition is being well preserved. Almost 190 children participated in the seventh edition of Temu Dalang Bocah Nusantara (Gathering of the Archipelago’s Junior Wayang Puppet Masters) at Taman Budaya Jawa Tengah in Surakarta, Central Java.
Among the participants were three girls, Kanindayu Giwang Restuti, Aisyiah Asyfa Ust Stani and Tiara Sotyaning Bathari, from the Baladewa wayang art studio in Surabaya, East Java.
The puppet masters come from 28 cities including Blitar, Blora, Bojonegoro, Boyolali, Depok, Jakarta, Karanganyar, Purwokerto, Sidoharjo, Surabaya, Surakarta, and Tangerang.
The number of participants was the highest since the gathering debuted way back in 2005, during which it featured only 29 young puppet masters.
Each puppet master performed for between 20 and 40 minutes. They were divided into three groups — kindergarten to second grader, third to fifth grade and sixth to eighth grade.
There were no limitations on what kind of stories or acts the puppet masters could put on. Each puppet master had limitless possibilities to express and deliver their craft during the gathering.
The chief organizer, Singgih Sri Cundomanik, said that the event was important for the preservation of wayang because it provided a platform for young puppet masters to hone their craft and gain experience as performers.