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Yogyakarta Sultan’s Palace

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Yogyakarta Sultan’s Palace has a big art project to preserve the high value arts and culture. As the center of Mataram’s Javanese culture, Yogyakarta Sultan’s palace keeps and preserves many high-value cultural and art objects. One of them is ‘wayang kulit’ the leather shadow puppet which are thousands in number. Realizing the importance of saving this heirloom, the palace has began a large project of documenting shadow puppets by forming a documentation team led by masterminds / puppeteers. Javanese culture is represented by Yogyakarta Palace where the cultural events, traditional ceremonies are still held.

Bayu Aji Nugraha, the young puppeteer who graduated from the Indonesian Art Institute, was chosen as one of the people involved in this work and accepted it as a ‘heart call’.
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He began joining as ‘a Palace’s servant’ in February 2019 and had just graduated as ‘Abdi Dalem’ on June 18 of the same year. The granted name from the King is “Mas Jajar Cermogupito”. Apparently this is the answer to his interest in serving the palace and cultural arts widely.

“I was offered to document the puppets belong to the Palace by my senior, puppeteer Susila Madya.”

His grandfather and father’s mother is the Palace’s servant, too. This is a pride for Javanese people to be accepted and granted by Sultan’s to serve the Palace. This is the way to devote their life to preserve the Javanese culture.
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The Palace’s Puppets Documentation
Yogyakarta Palace has around a dozen puppet boxes, each containing about 250 puppets. Documentation in digital form is a must so that this property is sustainable and can be easily accessed by the community. The puppets will be photographed, given a description, and equipped with data about the puppet itself.

“”We made a new data format. It’s a bit difficult because it doesn’t trace the description of existing puppets.”

Puppet images are scattered on the internet, but very few can be used as references. “Images must be proportional because shadow puppets are two-dimensional. So the photographer must work hard, “said the puppeteer who lives in Ambarketawang (west district of Yogyakarta).

Furthermore, he explained the data entered, namely subjective and objective data. Subjective data is obtained from oral narrative, while objective data is obtained from the “weakening” (bottom) of the puppet itself. “On the second leg (puppet) there is a red lane. There are small Javanese scripts there. (We) study again because of the many Javanese murda characters. “Murda characters are special letters that function like capital letters.

“(All descriptions) are appropriate, such as name, wanda, and sungging (color).” “For example Gatotkaca wanda for networking and war is different. If you want to fight, he looks up a bit, if you look down. “Another description that must be contained is the material of the puppets, the conditions, the shape of the limbs, and the accessories that he wears.”

Although worked on by around fifteen people, the project which began in February 2019 is still a hard work that is expected in one and a half years all puppets are recorded. While the masterminds themselves still have routine tasks such as the maintenance of puppets and performing in preparation.