Monday, June 1, 2009

Barikan at Astana Gunung Jati by Suganda

During my last trip to Cirebon (29-31 May) I had the pleasure of seeing a performance of Barikan at Astana Gunung Jati by Dl. Suganda from Gegesik. I was in fact originally scheduled to perform this sacred drama, which I have studied since 1994, myself but for complicated reasons not worth going into in the blog Suganda substituted for me at the last minute and I ended up playing saron II and taking pictures.

While in Gegesik and surrounding hamlets and villages Barikan is performed during the night, in Astana the custom is to perform it during the day with a wayang before and after at night. The ritual drama is proceeded by prayers and distribution of food in the pendopo where the wayang is performed.

Suganda's performance was very solid and followed the same basic story structure and dialogue I have transcribed and translated in my book Demon Abduction (Lontar, 1998). The people of Amarta are threatened by siluman (spirits) who kidnap them and spirit them off to Tunjung Karoban to work as pengobeng (labourers) in a wedding celebration. The mysterious Begawan Jojohan intervenes and recites a kidung (pictured above) and bonds the siluman kings into a promise that they will not disturb Amarta or the people of the sponsoring village (in this case Astana) ever again.

There were a few attempts at updating and making the lakon timely - as when the forces of Tunjung Karoban offer to bribe Arjuna (how many triliyar do you want?) to get the people of Amarta as workers for the siluman's wedding celebration.

After the show, Suganda asked me (why I don't know exactly) whether there was anything that needed to be marked in red (ie wrong) about his performance. I said no, but was curious why he had Begawan Jojohan's petapan (hermitage) as Sekar Gading. He said that this was his father's (Dl Warsinta) version and that other dalang Gegesik had other placenames. There remains a huge awareness of even minor variations among Gegesik puppeteers.

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