Wayang Kulit Exhibition in Simon Fraser University Displays 146 Years Old Puppets
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Simon Fraser University (SFU), the university in collaboration with Indonesian Consulate General in Vancouver, is hosting a Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) exhibition. During the opening of the exhibition on April 1st, 2016 at Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, SFU, Burnaby, the attendees among others are the SFU President, Andrew Petter, Indonesian Consul General, Sri Wiludjeng, and around 100 guests from academics, consular corps, journalists, parliamentary members and cultural observers.
In her opening remarks, Indonesian Consul General, gave appreciation to the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, SFU, for its effort in preserving the Wayang Kulit. In Javanese culture, Wayang Kulit posses sacred values and in ancient times only played during ceremonious events. The characters and play of Wayang Kulit convey certain philosophical and cultural values. The Wayang Kulit play has also been designated by UNESCO as “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, the effort to protect Wayang Kulit is not merely preserving Indonesian cultural heritage but beyond it also serve as the mean to sustain the cultural heritage of mankind.
President of SFU, Prof Andrew Petter, in his remarks highlighted the role of Museum of Archeology and Ethnology since 1965 to serve as a depository for historical artifacts from BC and any other regions of the world. The exhibition of the artifacts are aimed to promote art and culture to the people and further the exhibition can serve as the means to facilitate the mutual understanding in multi cultural society. Some of the artifacts’ collection are periodically exhibited in turn such as Indoensian Wayang Kulit that previously had been on display during the 40th year commemoration of the university.
As for the collection of Wayang Kulit, originally they had been donated to SFU by Ferdinand Chen, an Indonesian who migrated to Canada in 1960s. Currently there are around 600 Wayang Kulit in the depository of SFU’s museum. Some of them are made in as old as 1870 AD.
During the opening ceremony, Indonesian gamelan performance by SFU School for Contemporary Arts also played its part made the opening ceremony more joyful with ambience of Indonesian culture. The gamelan ensemble is directed by Sutrisno Hartana, an Indonesian that is also a lecturer in SFU.
To give a brief presentation of Wayang Kulit play to the attending guests, Sutrino Hartana, who happens to be a puppeteer, played a fragment of play that showed a conversation between two Wayang Kulit characters, namely Rahwana and Kumbakarna, accompanied by gamelan musical instrument performed by students of School for Contemporary Arts. The brief Wayang Kulit play received high praised from the attendees. As for the Wayang Kulit, the exhibition is held until January 2017.