Cross-cultural tales at International Panji Festival

The sound of gamelan (traditional Javanese orchestra) music signaled something was about to begin and people started to crowd around the stage. At 8 p.m. on Monday, the 2018 International Panji Festival (FPI) opened at Krida Budaya Park in Malang, East Java.

The first dance was Beskalan, a Malang welcome dance. Afterward, Indonesian artists performed a Panji tale titled Ontran-Ontran Gunung Wilis (Hullabaloo at Mount Wilis), followed by performers from Laos who presented the classic dance of Inao. Thai artists ended the show by showcasing a grand dance inspired by the Panji tales.

Panji tales are ancient Indonesian literature that have been passed down through generations and spread to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia since the 14th century. In Thailand and Cambodia, the tales are known as Inao. They tell of the heroic acts of Raden Inu Kertapati, also known as Panji Asmarabangun, and his love for Dewi Sekartaji, also known as Galuh Candrakirana.

Eight cities take turn in hosting the festival, and Malang was the third after Pasuruan, East Java, and Denpasar, Bali. The festival will next head to Blitar, Tulungagung, Kediri in East Java, Yogyakarta and Jakarta. Local performers join hands with international artists from Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Germany and the Netherlands.

Wardiman Djojonegoro, director of the festival, said that Jakarta would be the closing city on July 13. Other than art performances, the festival also hosts exhibitions, seminars and workshops on various Panji-influenced artwork and artifacts.

“The festival is meant to celebrate the recognition of Panji tales by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Program in October 2017,” Djojonegoro said.

The former education and culture minister added that since 2015, he has presented 76 manuscripts from the National Library of Indonesia to UNESCO. He invited libraries across Asia and Europe who have acquired the tales to participate. The National Library of Cambodia, Leiden University Library, the British Library and the National Library of Thailand have submitted their tales.

The festival is meant to inspire the younger generation to develop the tales into modern artworks, such as film or animation. (wng)



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