Text: Muhammad Ashari
Photos: Personal documentations
Translation: Alfa M Adiwidjaja
Bandung– The Manglayang Art and Tourism Village is situated on a densely populated residential area on jalan (street) Cijambe-Cinunuk, sub-district of Cileunyi, regency of Bandung. It stood in the hope of bringing empowerment for its neighboring communities.
Manglayang Art and Tourism Village existed on 1.8 hectares of land. Once being inside, people would be welcomed by the lush and verdant trees and bamboo huts. The scenery brought calmness and instigates peaceful feeling.
There are a total of 26 buildings and huts inside the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village. The buildings and huts were built to serve various functions, from resting place, traditional musical instruments storage, to a granary. Apart from them, there was also an area that was used for art performance.
The Village’s layout and management represented its purpose and mission, which is being the means of education for the community, to present the art and culture of the foot of mount Manglayang, which had been existed for a long time.
There were a number of cultural arts at the foot of mount Manglayang, some of them are Wayang Catur (catur puppet), Benjang (traditional martial arts), Reak (traditional dance and musical), Genjur (traditional music), and Ketuk Tilu Manglayang (traditional dance).
Because of the art and cultural diversity of the place, the husband and wife couple, Kawi and Ria Dewi Fajaria – both of them were bachelor in arts – started building the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village on 2006.
Indonesia Kreatif got the opportunity to interview them in a tranquil hut inside the village on Sunday, December 11, 2011. Kawi told how the village was inaugurated by Danny Setiawan, the Governor of West Java, on August 2007.
At the beginning, before becoming a village, the area was just an empty field owned by the Kawi family. “Since my wife and I had the same background, which is the art of traditional dance, we used to practice dancing at the field. Apparently, there were quite many people watching us practice at the field. As it happens, it made me think, well, why don’t we open a place of art and culture here?” said Kawi, who is currently teaching art of traditional dance at STSI, the Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (Indonesian Institute of Arts) in Bandung.
Everything rolled on from there. When he started building the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village, Kawi had to visit villages after villages at the foot of Manglayang, in the search of artists who could be brought to participate in implementing his idea. Despite that, Kawi also collected many art forms that had existed for long at the foot of Manglayang. And as the result, the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village had become a miniature replica of mount Manglayang and its surroundings with its various forms of arts and cultures.
At one part of the village, there is wooden marked area of about three meters wide. It was the place to practice Benjang.
Not far away from Benjang practice area, there was a hut that was used to store Lodang, which is a musical instrument, made of bamboo. If it was to be used, the Lodang would be taken out of its hut, and played in the Benjang practice area or in the area across from it, which is a small stage for art performance.
Besides the hut to store the Lodang, there is also Saung Kamonesan. It is a two-storied hut where masks and wayang golek (wooden puppet) was being stored. And then there was Saung Wreti, a hut that was used to store household appliances, such as gentong (a barrel), caping (straw hat) and kentongan (a traditional percussion used for alerting villagers).
One unique thing is the granary. And then right next to it is a small building called Saung Pawon. You could see various kitchen appliances there, since it was the place to cook rice.
Cultural Art Education for the Community
In the conversation, Kawi, a 52 year old man, emphasized his thought on education for the children, especially the children around Manglayang Art and Tourism Village. Kawi’s concern for education was understandable since he is a teacher (lecturer) at the STSI Bandung since 1995.
According to him, one form of children education is in the form of practicing traditional art. Nowadays, the training and practicing of various traditional arts was being conducted from the afternoon until night time at the village. The participants were the people that lived around the village, from children to adults.
Kawi told that the time of practice, which was afternoon until night time, was carried out based on the habit and the routine of the people around the village.
“In here, the practice was based on the people’s routine. Usually after finished with their day activities, people came here. And then they started practice anything, whether it was playing the gamelan, or dancing”, told Kawi.
There was no fixed schedule for practicing art like in the formal educational institution. There was no formal attachment in the practice or other activities of the village. Nevertheless, Kawi claimed that people keep coming back to the village.
According to Kawi, there were as many as 78 people; children and adults altogether, were recorded to have been coming regularly to the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village. The 78 of them were divided to the various art forms that they followed or learned.
From the numerous amounts of people that came to the village, Kawi considered that it is more important to give more attention towards the encouraging and upgrading of the children and the generation of youth.
He also explained that when somebody was studying art, they also learning about inner sense, or feeling. Together with continuous practice, the inner sense would also be continuously sharpened. Therefore, the individual perception and sensitivity would be improved.
Not only being able to learn various art forms, the people who visited Manglayang Art and Tourism Village can also participate in an art performance. An art performance is useful for training the mental aspect and the confidence level of its performer. Besides that, the performer would be able to evaluate their performance. From the suggestions of the audiences, the performer would know if there was a flaw in their performance, and they could correct themselves.
Kawi thought that the experience of learning and performing traditional art forms would be beneficial if it was being nurtured early in life. In other words, It would be very useful if children were given the chance to experience the learning process and performing an art form.
Every month the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village held traditional art performances. Usually there were up to four art performances in a month, admitted Kawi.
A certain pattern was being followed regarding these traditional art performance. On the first week of the month, normally they had wayang golek performance. On the second week there was usually the Ketuk Tilu dance performance. The third week was for Benjang. And on the last week there was free performance, determined by the people’s agreement.
Modernization and Traditional Arts
In relation with the art study for children, Kawi was aware with the recent development of the modern world, which somewhat always has friction with the traditional arts. Kawi regarded the development of the modern world as a double-edged sword.
He gave the example, the technology such as television, when some artists’ works were shown in the television; it gave pride to the artists themselves.
“There is a particular TV station that recorded the artists’ activity in this village. And I noticed, things like that (the TV shooting) granted positive aspects towards the artists. It granted pride for the artists”, said Kawi.
However, there was the other side of technology development that had negative impact on the development of traditional arts. Moreover if it was in relation to the children’s interest toward traditional arts.
Television were often aired the attractive and varied modern shows, which were more interesting for children. The phenomenon may cause the children to get further away from the traditional arts.
Kawi considered the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village was being existed in the middle of this situation, where children were being pulled away from traditional arts. With his friends in the village, Kawi struggled to retain the children’s interest toward traditional arts.
“In times like this, I think that is the hardest part in preserving and advancing the traditional arts. To encourage people’s interest toward the traditional arts itself”, told Kawi.
In every activity in the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village, steps have been taken in order to encourage the interest toward traditional arts. Besides conducting various art performances every weekend, one of the interesting attempts is by tampering the Lodang musical instrument. The bamboo percussion instrument was specifically modified, so that it may be hit at one’s heart’s content.
“They can hit the Lodang as freely as the way they wanted to, because it had been modified, even though you hit it irregularly, it would be sounded harmonious enough”, said Kawi.
He assumed that the effort would cause the children to play Lodang. “The most important thing is how to get the children interested. Who knows, once they are being interested, they would study it, and then becoming professional Lodang player”, said Kawi.
The “Hidden” Village
Finding Manglayang Art and Tourism Village for the first time could be very confusing. There were no signposts from the Cinunuk main road. Even if you managed to get out of the main road, the village was still hard to find, due to its location which was in the middle of a residential area.
“There used to be a signpost on the main road, but it’s gone now. I don’t know who took it”, said Kawi, smiling.
And then Kawi recounted the experience of having been visited by a school from Jakarta. He said that they were lost so for up to the direction of mount Manglayang. “At that time they were coming from behind the village. They were lost for quite a distance. And when they arrived, they too asked about the absence of a signpost”, told Kawi.
Kawi was aware of the lack of signposts, and how it was causing many people to unable to locate the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village. This fact would have an impact in the promotional effort of the village. And Kawi also aware that the promotional aspect of the village was also one of its purpose, and because of that, its purpose of improving the surrounding inhabitant’s economic welfare had been hindered.
“When we built it for the first time, there were about 62 food and drink stalls at the back of the Manglayang Village and Tourism Village, which were built by the locals. But now there is only one left”, explained Kawi.
Kawi had hoped that the existence of Manglayang Art and Tourism Village would have positive impact for its surrounding neighborhood. Besides providing the people with means to express themselves, Kawi also expected that the workers of the neighborhood, from motorcycle taxi drivers to food stall vendors, all being benefited from the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village.
Nevertheless according to Kawi, the attempt of preserving and advancing the traditional arts requires a diligent and determined effort, because the modern world has many to offer in terms of entertainment that seemed more attractive, instantaneous, and more charming than the traditional arts.
Besides, commercialization was not the main goal of Manglayang Art and Tourism Village. He thinks that commercialization, which is only a step away from industrialization, tends to have friction with traditional arts.
Therefore, Kawi did not build the Manglayang Art and Tourism Village as a business field, but its main goal is to provide the means of education and appreciation of the traditional arts for the people. “One key point, I build the village to take part in nurturing the environment by means of cultural arts, and also to provide entertainment for the weary people that were coming home from their jobs, having been working from the morning until the afternoon”, concluded Kawi.