Saturday, June 9, 2012

The dying art of wayang kulit (shadow play).

When we were in Kelantan, we visited the Wayang Kulit Gallery in Kampung Morak, about 10 minutes from the Kota Bharu town.

Address: Simpang 3, Morak, Palekbang 16040, Kelantan

It's a house by the road side. If u come from KB, the house will be on your left. Slow down and look for the sign board. 
When we were there, we met Pak Mail, one of the craft men. Since we were the only people there, kids had the luxury to roam free and explore. And Pak Mail was a very gracious host. Patiently explaining to us about wayang kulit. The art, the history and the process that goes behind the scene.

The gallery. History and information about wayang kulit. The hierarchy of King Rama and King Rawana.
 The craftmen.
The characters in the story.
The small puppets. Available for sale.
Kids having fun making up stories with the puppets.
The work station.
Pak Mail explained to us the process of making the puppet. 
Piles of dried hide. Ready to be used.
Pak Mail shared with us  the process of drying the hide. The skin were washed, kept in a tied gunny sack and buried for 3 days. Then they took out the skin and washed it off in a river. This is essential  to produce a good translucent dried hide. It is a very tedious process. Not to mention very stinky smelly too. If the hide is not translucent, the puppet will not project colours when played. It will just be a black shadow.

The characters are hand drawn on a piece of paper, which would be glued on a piece of animal hide. They use goat hide for smaller puppets and cow hide for bigger puppets. 
 The hide is then cut according to the pattern on the paper.
Then, the hole punching process begin. The hide is punctured by hand, one hole at a time. A mallet is used to tap special tools to punch the hide.
The special tools. Made from scrap material. The tool only comes in two basic shapes, flat and curved, but they do come in a variety of sizes. 
Kids having a blast hammering and punching the hide.

Mr O couldn't resist. Joining the kids hammering and punching the hide. The kids got the chance to do their own design too. Awesomeness ;-)
Once the punching finish, the painting process begin. The smaller pieces were painted with the marker pen.
 The bigger pieces were painted with the marking ink.
Somebody got curious with the intricate details of the puppets.
The finished product. Medina's flower and Luqman's dragon head.
The stage area where they do the show.
 The traditional musical instruments.
The gong.
It was a very good experience for us. We thoroughly enjoyed the learning process. The entrance is free. But it would be great it u donate generously. 

According to Pak Mail, the operation of the house is funded personally by the owner of the gallery Muhammad Dain B. Othman or Pak Dain. It's his passion to continue the legacy of wayang kulit. Personally, I feel it's so important to support these people who have been working so hard in their own capacity to preserve the culture. Without them, our kids will not get the chance to experience the culture. I noticed from the guest book, most of the visitors are foreigners. Such a shame. We are so blessed with a rich culture and heritage. Besides, what is a nation without a culture?

If u r around the vicinity, do drop by. U will not be disappointed ;-)

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