Who is a Dalang! What is his job?
In short Dalang is a leather puppet (wayang) master who perform wayang kulit (shadow leather puppet) show. For the consiced reply, please click Wayang - Performance of Wayang Kulit, sub-title Dalang.
It is explained that Dalang is an expert to tell stories - some cultural experts say that Dalang is acronym from the words Dal abbreviation of Ngudal - to tell and Lang abbreviation of Piwulang - lesson or knowledge. So a Dalang is a person who has ability of teaching knowledge through wayang kulit performance. It is no doubt that a Dalang is an overall artist heaving a broad knowledge of several disciplines of Javanese arts.
Ki Manteb Soedharsono "Dalang Setan"
One of the most popular Dalang in this country is Manteb Soedharsono, the people call him Ki Manteb Soedharsono, showing appreciation to this respected friendly dalang in his fifties. Many people pridely call him Ki Manteb "Dalang Setan"/Devil Dalang. How could he has been given a nickname of Dalang Setan? Is he really a man with devil characteristic? Is he a very bad man? Or does he play the wayang skillfully with the help of devils? No, not at all! "Dalang Setan" is a spontaneous title given by his lightning speed in moving the wayang puppets on stage.
The first man called him "Dalang Setan" was the late Ret. Air - Marshall Boediardjo, ex-Minister of Information, a noted figure in the world of Javanese wayang. Ki Manteb was at first worried with this nickname as the word "Setan" has a bad connotation. But after a clean explanations by his fans, at last the famous dalang accepts whole heartedly this nickname "Dalang Setan".
Today, he is very busy to perform wayang kulit show everywhere around the country and even abroad, his wayang performances always attract a lot of people watching the whole night show, in the villages, different towns, various TV and Radio Stations, in the residents of dignitaries, high ranking government officials, and in the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Indonesia!!!
As he becomes a focus of attention, people start to be curious Who is really Ki Manteb Soedharsono? What is his background of expertise and further deeper which supposed to be personal matters - what kind of a man is he and how is his personal life? Well, that is the risk to be a public figure, he belong to the people at present. Ki Manteb hides nothing of his life, even his personal one. He is happy if others could learn something from him. Together with other people, the wayang and Javanese traditional culture aficionado, with all his heart and if necessarily with his own life, he would always preserve and develop this ancestor's culture for the glory of the nation.
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