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“Rama Tambak”: Rare indigenous Betawi show on the great Ramayana Epic

November 27, 2013 Destination ASEAN No Comments Email Email

The Office of Tourism and Culture of the province of Jakarta will present a special cultural performance entitled“Rama Tambak” scheduled to take place at the Ismail Marzuki Art Center , Jakarta from 10th to 11th December 2013.

The Ramayana Saga, an epic story which teaches the fights between virtue against evil has been adopted by many of  Indonesia’s traditional arts and cultures.  Especially on the islands of Java and Bali, the epic saga of Ramayana is played in various traditional art forms including the Wayang Golek (Wooden Puppet) shows, Wayang Kulit (Leather Puppet  show), and Wayang Wong (Theatrical Plays).

Although the capital city of Jakarta is recognized mostly for its modernity, yet its indigenous Betawi ethnic group also has its own version of the Ramayana epic in its own traditional performing arts. In preserving and revitalizing some of Betawi’s disappearing arts, the episode of Rama Tambak taken from the Ramayana Saga will be performed in the traditional form of Wayang Wong Betawi.

The performance will not only involve acting, dance, and music, but will also feature distinct Betawi’s masks that match each character of the story. Another special feature of the performance is the musical score and its background  ofAjeng Music which is also a rare art in modern Jakarta.

Rama Tambak itself tells the story of Rama Wijaya from the Kingdom of Ayodya in his attempt to rescue his beloved wife, Shinta,  who had been kidnapped by the evil giant King Rahwana from the Kingdom of Alengka. In order to reach Alengka, which is located in the middle of the Ocean, Rama built embankments (Tambak) with the help from an army of monkeys led by Sugriwa and Hanoman.

The process of building the embankments met with many obstacles and problems. Later, Gunawan Wibisana, younger brother of the giant Rahwana who had been banished from Alengka, offered  aid to  Rama to help him in his quest. Wibisana’s offer was at first rejected by Sugriwa who suspected that it was a trick from the Alengkans to sabotage the mission. However, Hanoman in his wisdoms and consideration suggested that it would  be best  to accept Wibisana’s offer, which was agreed by Prince Rama. Finally, with the help of Gunawan Wibisana and the monkey soldiers, Prince Rama succeeded in crossing the ocean and reached Alengka where he defeated the giant Rahwana and rescued his beloved wife, Shinta.

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