Main image via The Star
Sapari Sukarjo, who is among the last remaining traditional wayang kulit craftsmen in the state, aims to prolong the legacy of the tradition before it merely becomes a memory of the past.
The third-generation craftsman said wayang kulit was one of the main sources of entertainment during religious festivals, and at other events such as at births, circumcisions and weddings. He blames television and electronic entertainment for the decline of the centuries-old art form.
Image via Kat Pegi Mana
Sapari also mentions that it costs about RM3,000 for an eight-hour show, and that each show would have one puppet master and 14 musicians who play various musical instruments. The stories usually are centered around good moral values and depict certain folklore characters.
Sapari currently owns Safis Art Enterprise at the Johor Craft Complex in Jalan Cenderasari. He produces about 10 wayang kulit using goat skin each week. He also sells each puppet between RM10 and RM300, predominantly to local or Singaporean customers who would use the puppets for decoration. Besides that, Sapari also organizes wayang kulit classes every month at his outlet, but so far response has been quiet.
Moreover, Sapari hopes the tradition will be passed down beyond his time, as he is currently grooming his 16-year-old son to take over the family business. “It’s a slow process and it will take some time before he gets everything right,” he said.
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