Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Minister of Religion's Visit to Al-Zaytun

One of the remarkable developments documented in Laurie Margot Ross's PhD thesis on topeng in Cirebon and Indramayu (Journeying, Adaptation, and Translation:
Topeng Cirebon at the Margins, UCal Berkeley, 2009) is the introduction of topeng and other other regional arts into pesantren around the region. Pesantren had formerly been indifferent and often hostile to such traditions as topeng, and the motivations behind this move were a bit mysterious.

Today Al-Zaytun, the largest pesantren in Indramayu and one of the largest in Indonesia, put this arts education to use, playing terbang and gamelan to greet the arrival of indonesian's Minister of Religion.

(See for a video)

Al-Zaytun is being formally investigated for its links with Negara Islam Indonesia (NII), a banned political movement. I take the showcasing of gamelan in particular, prominently highlighted in news reports, as an attempt to showcase the pesantren's tolerance.

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