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Posted: Nov 16, 2011 Category: The Theater

Jakarta.go.id - Ondel-ondel is a people performance that existed for centuries in Jakarta and its surroundings, which is currently the Betawi cultural area.

This was uncovered from the writing of W. Scot, an English trader who was in Banten at the beginning of the seventeenth century, which was quoted by W. Fruin Mees in his book titled Geschiedenis Van Java, volume II, which essence is more or less as follows:
"In 1605, the convoy of Prince Pangeran Jayakarta Wijayakrama to participate in celebrating the circumcision of Prince Abdul Mafakhir, who was three years before crowned as Sultan Banten at the age of seven years, replacing Sultan Muhammad, his father, who died in Palembang, took along among others a doll in giant form ("een reus”). This giant is what we currently know as Ondel-ondel, which at former times was normally considered as the materialization of Danyang Desa, the repellent of disaster.

Although such kind of people performance is also found in several other places, such as in Priangan known as Badawang, in Cirebon referred to as Gendruwo, in Banyumas referred to as Barongan Buncis and in Bali referred to as Barong Landung, Ondel-ondel has a specific characteristic. As notation, it is expected that the preparation of its design can show the expression of ferocious but pleasant to look at, not having the impression of a big creature with a dummy face. Ondel-ondel is included in one of the theatre forms without spoken words, since it was at the beginning made as the personification of the ancestors and protector of the village safety and its inhabitants. As such, it may be considered as presenting plays and stories like “bekakak” in the “potong bekakak” ceremony at the limestone mountain south of Yogyakarta City, which is annually implemented in the Sapar month.
Ondel-ondel is in form of a big doll with a bamboo woven frame and size of approximately 2.5 m, height and diameter of less than 80 cm. It is made in such way so that the bearer inside can move quite freely. Its hair is made from black sugar palm fibers, referred to as “duk” by the Betawi people. Its face is in form of a mask with round open staring eyes.

The face of Ondel-ondel that describes a man is red painted and the face that describes a woman is white or yellow. Ondel-ondel is normally used to enliven the processions, such as the procession of a child to be circumcised and others. A couple is normally taken along, a man and woman. However, it is currently depending on he request of the person having the occasion. In fact, even in public celebrations, such as the Jakarta City anniversary, several couples are normally taken along, forming a quite cheerful separate procession.
The accompaniment music of Ondel-ondel is not certain, depending on the respective groups. Some are accompanied by Tanjidor, such as the Ondel-ondel group led by Gejen in kampung Setu. Some are accompanied by the Betawi Pencak drum, such as the "Beringin Sakti” group led by Duloh (deceased), which is now led by Yasin, from Rawasari. Some are also accompanied by “Bende”, "Kemes", “Ningnong” and “Rebana Ketimpring”, such as the Ondel-ondel group led by Lamoh, from Kalideres.
In addition to cheer up the procession, the traveling around performance was also conducted at former times, referred to as "Ngamen", particularly during the New Year celebrations, either the Christian or Imlek. The target during the Christian New Year is the Menteng area, which is mostly occupied by Christians. The main supporters of the Ondel-ondel art are farmers, including "abangan", especially from the outskirts of Jakarta City and its surroundings.
At several places, such as Cireundue and Ciputat, it is also often used in the “baritan” feasts, a kind of “bersih desa” (village cleaning) ceremony, which is normally implemented after the big harvest, at former times between July and August. The preparation of Ondel-ondel is conducted orderly, either when forming its mask as well as when weaving its body from bamboo.

An offer is usually provided at the commencement of work, which among others contains red and white porridge, seven forms of “:rujak” (unripe fruit salad), seven flower species, and others, in addition to positively burning incense. Likewise, the finished Ondel-ondel is usually also provided with an offer and burning of incense, accompanied by mantras directed to the spirit that is considered as guarding such Ondel-ondel. An offer is always provided before it is taken out from the storage to leave for a performance. The burning of incense is conducted by the group leader or one of the elders. According to the local term, such ceremony is referred to as "ukup" or "ngukup".

Reference:    DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE AND MUSEUM AFFAIRS, Betawi Art Summary, 2003



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