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Jakarta Post

'Ondel-Ondel': An almost extinct Betawi legacy

  • The Jakarta Post

PREMIUM
Jakarta   /   Mon, June 23 2008   /  10:35 am

ELECTRIFYING EFFIGIES: Dancers accompanied by modern electric ondel-ondel (giant effigies) spice up the Jakarta Fashion and Food Festival. Ondel-Ondel, Betawi icons, were once used to protect Betawi people from bad luck but are now often used in the cultural festivities. For over 23 years Andi Suwandi has devoted his life to the nearly extinct ondel-ondel, gigantic Betawi "human puppets", witnessing their popularity dwindle in modern Jakarta. "It's a legacy," said Andi, "I learned how to make ondel-ondel by observing my father." Currently his wife, in-laws and sons help preserve the art form, making the giant puppets in his studio and house in Bekasi. Andi usually sells two to three pairs of ondel-ondel every month and more orders during special months, like this month. "In June, as people are preparing events to cel...