Sasak puppet, the peacemaker

The situation in Lingkungan Petemon, Pagutan Village, Mataram city that night had not been fully recovered. The heat from dissension between people living in Petemon and its neighbouring village, Lingkungan Karang Genteng, still filled the evening air.

But Darundya still fulfilled the invitation from Arpah (50) to perform in Petemon. Under heavy escort from security forces, the shadow puppet show with the story ‘Perang Purwe Konde’ was performed smoothly that evening.

According to Arpah, the host for the show, people in his village missed the shadow puppet show that used to be performed by Nengah Gowang and Nengah Giyur. Darundya came with the recommendation from Sukirno, a Sasak puppet enthusiast in Batu Kumbang Village, Lingsar, West Lombok. He knew there was a puppet master named Made Darundya, the grandson of Nengah Gowang who was the teacher of Nengah Giyur. “Fortunately we could invite him to perform after my son was circumcised,” Arpah said.

Not only it paid off the longing feeling and to entertain the guests as an expression of gratitude, but the show has also had another mission. The story chosen was Purwe Konde. “It was a story about a civil war within Amir Hamzah’s family,” Arpah said. According to him, the one who chose the story was Haji Saman, his father.

“It seemed like he wanted to remind us all through that show that civil war is useless. The winner gets nothing, let alone the loser,” Arpah continued. Frictions between community members have resulted in nothing but loss.

Using a shadow puppet as a peacemaking media was also applied by Nengah Gowang during his era. And that evening, Darundya once again repeated the history. “My father told me, my grandfather used to perform in conflict areas to tone down the tension,” Darundya said.

The presence of Hindu puppet masters who performed Sasak puppet with Islamic storylines was an asset for the plural people of Lombok. Pendande Gede Made Jelantik Dwija Gautama, a Hindu religious leader in Mataram, was very appreciative of the efforts of preserving the tolerant cultural heritage carried out by the Sasak puppet masters. He had no issues Hindu puppet masters perform Islamic storyline.

Since a young age, Jelantik loved the Sasak puppet. “That is the beauty of Lombok, the Sasak puppet is full of Islamic values, but we love it and perform it, just like puppet master Kantun, he is a Hindu and accepted by everyone. No other place has that. That is why Lombok is very special,” Jelantik said.

The puppet master set an example, Jelantik thought, the younger generation should be able to copy this example and it will answer the current polarized society.

In its history, the people of Lombok was occupied by the Kingdom of Karang Asem Bali in the 18th century. Even though this incident has long gone, the polarization heritage left its traces.

“Our history left us polarized. Like it or not, rebuilding over the polarization is not easy because it could explode at any time unless there is an effort to make peace with the history,” Hasanain Juaini said.

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