Wayang wong also known as Wayang orang (literally human wayang) is a type of theatrical performance with themes from the kingdom of Jenggala, in which the players wear masks known as wayang topeng or wayang gedog.
The word "gedog" comes from "kedok", which, like "topeng" means "mask". The main theme is the story of Raden Panji and Candra. This is a love story about princess Candra Kirana of Kediri and Raden Panji Asmarabangun, the crown prince of Jenggala. Candra Kirana was the incarnation of Dewi Ratih (goddess of love) and Panji was an incarnation of Kamajaya (god of love). Kirana's story was given the title "Smaradahana" ("The fire of love"). At the end of the complicated story they finally can marry and bring forth a son, named Raja Putra. Panji Asmarabangun ruled Jenggala under the official names "Sri Kameswara", "Prabu Suryowiseso", and "Hino Kertapati". Originally, wayang wong was performed only as an aristocratic entertainment in four palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta. In the course of time, it spread to become a popular and folk form as well.
Wayang wong has fixed patterns of movement and costume:
For male performers:
- Alus: very slow, elegant and smooth movement. For example, the dance of Arjuna, Puntadewa and all other slimly built Kshatriyas. There are two types of movement, lanyap and luruh.
- Gecul: ponokawan and cantrik
For female performers: Kshatriya noblemen. Costumes and props distinguish kings, Kshatriyas, monks, princesses, The movements known as nggruda or ngenceng encot in the classical high style of dance consist of nine basic movements (joged pokok) and twelve other movements (joged gubahan and joged wirogo) and are used in portraying Bedoyo and Srimpi.
Today, the wayang wong, following the Gagrak style of Surakarta, is danced by women. They follow the alus movements associated with a Kshatriya, resembling Arjuna. Following the Gagkra style from Yogyakarta a male dancer uses these same Alus movements to depict princes and generals. There are about 45 distinct character types.