Chinese touch to wayang kulit
By SYED AZHAR
PASIR MAS: On the first day of Chinese New Year, hundreds of people will make a beeline to one house among 200 Chinese families living in Kampung Pasir Parit, Chetok, here to visit a local man known for his skill in Kelantan traditional arts.
Eyo Hock Seng is the only Kelantan Chinese who is a wayang kulit (shadow play) master ranked at par with his Malay peers after 30 years of dedication to the art.
Eyo, who is known locally as Pok Chu, 56, speaks the Kelantanese dialect fluently as well as the local version of Hokkien.
Crowd-puller: Eyo performing one of his plays using intricately carved puppets made from cow leather at his place in Kg Pasir Parit, Chetok.
He prepares local delicacies like nasi gulai ayam, nasi kerabu and ulam for his guests during his Chinese New Year open house.
“Every year I give out at least 50 boxes of mandarin oranges and almost all the food served is halal.
“As far as I can remember, we have always served local Malay cuisine during Chinese New Year,” said the father of seven.
The interview was conducted at a makeshift stage in front of his house, tucked in a remote section of the kampung where he conducts his wayang kulit shows.
Pok Chu said he is considered strange by his Chinese friends living on the West Coast.
“I studied in a Malay school, mixed with Malay friends and ate Malay food.
“I may look like a Chinese but when I open my mouth to speak Malay, many would do a double take.
“I don’t even know how to use chopsticks,” said Pok Chu, who is a fourth-generation Kelantanese.
Pok Chu added that his whole family speaks Malay at home and only speak their mother tongue on rare occasions.
“I even speak Malay with my wife,” he said.
He makes a living through his small grocery store and by performing wayang kulit shows with his band of seven Malay musicians.
the star online
In the shadows
23 March 2011
As the years go by, the traditional art of wayang kulit has been increasingly left in the shadows.
I mean, who shadow puppets when you’ve got TV, the Internet, movies, 3D movies and god knows what else next?
In fact, almost all of us in the Star's youth journalist programme BRATs (Bright Roving Annoying Teens) in Kota Bharu, Kelantan were watching a wayang kulit performance for the first time when we went to the Galeri Wayang Kulit Melayu Tradisional Kelantan last week; and there were about ten of us who were locals!
But even though we’ve come to the point where wayang kulit is something we’ve only heard of or seen on TV, we were still excited to see the performance.
We had travelled to the gallery in Kampung Morak, about 10 minutes from Kota Bharu town, and it was around 9pm by the time we got there. The gallery is a small house converted into a wayang kulit stage and workshop, where the gambar (shadow puppets) are made and sold.
Once we got there and saw the screen light up from behind and with a few gambar casting their colourful shadows on it, we got pretty psyched to watch the show.
Even more excited however, was Muhammad Dain Othman, 59, the tok dalang, or puppeteer, who started by giving us an introduction to wayang kulit and the story he was about to perform for us.
Dain then took his place alongside the eight musicians behind the screen, and the gendang (drum) and serunai (flute) started playing an entrancing traditional song, signaling the start of the first scene.
A green figure appeared, which Dain later explained was the puppet representation of Raja Sri Rama, king of Tanah Jawa. Using the movement of the puppets, different songs and some dialogue, the story was told, beginning with that of a king addressing his ministers, telling them that he is leaving the kingdom to meditate.
We expected to be dazzled by the performance, but even then it was so much better than we had anticipated! We were enthralled by the beauty of the art, even though most of us couldn’t understand a single word uttered by Dain as the story was told in classical Kelantanese Malay.
It was a brilliant show of light and colours; the colours of the characters signifying their roles in the story. Red, for instance, represents aggressiveness, so the characters in red are usually villains or warriors.
Dain emerges at the end of the first scene, saying that his student would take over for the next scene, and being all mesmerised by the performance, many of us were now crowding around him trying to find out more about wayang kulit.
But then the second scene begins, with the introduction of Pedang Guna and Tanjang Guna, two brothers whose late father, Rawana, was killed by king Raja Sri Rama.
However, instead of allowing his sons to inherit the throne, Rawana’s brother Babu Sanem assumes power, and this creates a struggle for supremacy over the kingdom. Those were just two of many scenes from the Ramayana, the ancient epic.
Dain explained to us that all traditional Kelantanese wayang kulit performances tells stories from Ramayana, and that the art was brought over from Jawa, Indonesia. It started in the nearby village of Kampung Kebakat, and Dain sees the entire area as the birthplace of wayang kulit in Malaysia.
“There are two main types of wayang kulit – traditional, which you just saw, and modern. The main differences lie in four areas – the gambar, language, music and number of performers,” said Dain, while his student continued to perform the second scene, which continued even after we left the centre around 10:45pm, by which time several neighbours and passers-by had stopped by to watch the show.
Several young people had even stopped their motorcycles on the roadside to enjoy the show. It was almost like an outdoor drive-through movie theatre. The eight musicians kept them entertained alongside the tok dalang, playing perfectly in sync. “To produce a really good show, we could use up to 12 musicians!” said Dain. In modern wayang kulit however, as few as seven performers are needed.
The language used is Southern Thai Malay, and only gambars of major characters from the Ramayana like King Rama, Queen Sita and Hanuman are used.
Also, a standard set of 32 songs are used in traditional wayang kulit, each specific to a particular character. Only seven songs are used in the modern version.
The following morning, we returned to the centre to meet Wan Ismail, a puppet maker who showed us how gambar were made.
First, the characters are hand drawn on a piece of paper, which would be stuck on a piece of animal hide (goat hide for smaller ones, and cow hide for performance-sized ones). The hide is then carved according to the patterns on the paper, and coloured based on the character it is to represent.
It is an intricate process that involves over 20 tools, some of which Wan Ismail fashioned himself from scrap material such as umbrella frames, but he nevertheless says it is a skill that can be easily learned.
“If you are truly interested, you can learn the method of creating gambars in a month.” said Wan Ismail.
And that is what Dain hopes young people will do – learn.
His passion for wayang kulit had led him to start the training and performance centre, which cost him RM50,000 to set up; but it was borne of a genuine love for the traditional art.
“If I don’t recruit people, the art dies,” he said, when asked about the future of wayang kulit.
And just before the BRATs left, he said to us: “Please do come again, and do something to make wayang kulit alive again.”
Falsafah wayang kulit
ALAT yang dipanggil pemetik ini sangat penting dalam wayang kulit untuk memberi isyarat dan membuat kesan bunyi.
SEBAIK lampu di belakang layar putih dihidupkan, susunan watak wayang kulit serta-merta hidup. Suara tok dalang, panggilan kepada individu yang menghidupkan karakter tersebut berkumandang di seluruh ruang bilik.
Mula mengenali wayang kulit seawal usia tiga tahun, Che Mohd. Nasir Yusof, mempelbagaikan intonasi suara mengikut karakter yang dimainkan.
Watak utama, Raja Seri Rama bersuara tegas tetapi bersopan manakala Tuan Puteri Siti Dewi pula bersuara halus. Watak-watak comic relief seperti Wak Long dan Pak Dogo mempunyai nada lucu dan sedikit kelam-kabut.
Pertuturan tok dalang memiliki dinamik apabila menghasilkan ketegangan pada adegan-adegan tertentu. Dialog-dialog disampaikan berkisar isu-isu semasa yang berlaku di dalam negara.
Bagi memberi isyarat kepada pemuzik untuk pengenalan babak seterusnya dan menghasilkan kesan bunyi, tok dalang menggunakan sejenis alat yang digelar sebagai pemetik.
"Jadi tok dalang mesti tahu serba-serbi. Mesti tahu menebang pokok untuk buat alat muzik. Harus pandai menjahit baju dan memasak untuk ahli kumpulan," kata lelaki yang dikenali sebagai Pak Nasir ketika ditemui di Kuala Lumpur baru-baru ini.
Ujar lelaki yang berusia 56 tahun itu, wayang kulit Kelantan bersifat tiga dalam satu. Ia mempunyai tiga pengaruh agama iaitu Buddha, Hindu dan Islam.
Pengaruh Buddha dapat dilihat pada kesenian penghasilan watak manakala unsur-unsur Hindu boleh dikesan melalui penggunaan cerita epik Ramayana tetapi nama karakter telah dimelayukan.
Sehubungan itu, ada kalangan pakar-pakar berpendapat wayang kulit Kelantan memiliki hampir 95 peratus unsur Hindu.
Raja Seri Rama dan Tuan Puteri Siti Dewi merupakan watak-watak utama dalam wayang kulit Kelantan.
Namun begitu, bagi Pak Nasir, karakter dan seni fizikal hanya unsur luaran. Paling penting ialah falsafah yang terkandung dalam sesebuah persembahan dan wayang kulit yang dimainnya sarat dengan unsur keislaman.
Kata lelaki yang berasal dari Kampung Bunohan, Kelantan itu, penggunaan seorang tok dalang yang mengawal semua perkara memberi tafsiran bahawa tuhan itu satu.
"Semua karakter sama ada baik mahupun jahat berupa raksasa, jin dan jembalang seperti Bota Raja Wana akan tunduk pada kekuasaan tok dalang," terang Pak Nasir yang telah ke Jepun sebanyak sembilan kali atas tiket wayang kulit.
Wayang kulit Kelantan yang dipentaskan pada waktu malam juga mempunyai maksud tersirat. Ketika manusia berada dalam kegelapan, kita memerlukan cahaya untuk dijadikan panduan.
Bayang-bayang itu sendiri memberi gambaran kepada masyarakat umum bahawa lumrah manusia, lekas benar mengalami 'gila bayang' terhadap semua perkara seperti kuasa, wanita dan harta sehingga lupa tanggungjawab.
SETIAP karakter sama ada baik atau jahat dalam pementasan wayang kulit dihidupkan oleh seorang tok dalang.
Mengikut teks asal epik Ramayana versi Melayu, hanya ada tiga karakter iaitu Tuan Puteri Siti Dewi, Raja Seri Rama dan Bota Raja Wana.
Ketiga-ketiga karakter menjadi refleksi pada unsur manusia (Raja Seri Rama), kebaikan (Tuan Puteri Siti Dewi) dan kejahatan (Bota Raja Wana).
Dalam permainan wayang kulit, barulah karakter-karakter lain seperti Maha Risi, Raja Muda Laksamana, Wak Long dan Pak Dogo diwujudkan.
Berbeza dengan wayang kulit Purwa dari Indonesia, mereka lebih menekankan teknik pergerakan karakter. Justeru, ia boleh dimainkan pada waktu siang.
Ia juga bersifat budaya dan dimainkan oleh masyarakat Jawa dan Bali tanpa mengira agama dan semua karakter berpakaian tradisonal Jawa.
Pak Nasir juga tidak menolak terdapat unsur-unsur mistik dalam wayang kulit dengan memuja karakter Pak Dogo. Tindakan itu bertujuan supaya ramai penonton dan berharap mereka datang kembali untuk menonton.
"Tetapi sebagai manusia yang membuat semua karakter ini, mengapa harus kita memuja mereka? Sepatutnya watak-watak ini yang harus tunduk kepada manusia," tegas Pak Nasir.- ADLAN JAAFAR