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Jakarta Post

'Wayang Potehi' unifies all

Wed, January 22, 2020   /   11:04 am
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    Well crafted: A detailed look at the puppet designs. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Front and center: Wisps of incense smoke twist in front of the wayang potehi (glove puppet) stage. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Focus: Children watch a wayang potehi (glove puppet) show intently. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Team work: Puppeteers perform behind a screen at a wayang potehi (glove puppet) show. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    First act: A puppet master and his assistant open the show. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Green room: A set of wayang potehi (glove puppets) are ready to be used in a show. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

Maksum Nur Fauzan

Incense smoke with its distinctive odor fills every corner of the Confucian Tien Kok Sie Temple in Surakarta, Central Java.

Inside the temple, Confucians and others gather to watch a wayang potehi (Chinese glove puppet) show.

A wayang potehi show serves as both entertainment and part of the Confucians’ religious rituals. The show can features different plays, such as the story of Sie Djien Kwi from the Tong Tiaw Dynasty or the legendary tale of Monkey King Sun Wukong.

The word potehi is made out of three words — pou (fabric), te (pocket) and hi (puppet). So, potehi puppets are basically made out of fabric.

Five puppet masters perform the show on a 5 by 5 square meter box. Inside each sq m is a puppet master and each of them has a different role.

Wayang potehi is considered a significant part of Indonesia’s diversity as a nation.

The show is great entertainment for all and it strengthens unity among Indonesians of different backgrounds and cultures.