Bali has plenty to offer, but our Indonesia travel information Surakarta culture explores a sleepy town in Central Java also called Solo. We show you the way of life, shopping and hotels. Bali and Java are very similar and yet very different. About one hour flight from Bali immerse yourself into a different life. On this page here we explore Javanese opera that is a must see when here.
Wayang Wong Sriwedari is a very colorful and masterful theater. Java is known for Wayang Golek or Puppetry (specialty of West Java) Wayang Kulit or Shadow Puppet (Central Java also Bali) and Wayang Wong or opera (Central Java also Bali).
The costumes are traditional of course, the Batik sarongs worn help identify who is who; special patterns are reserved for royalty and their family. They are modernized with lots of sparkle and completed with plenty of accessories like jewelry, head coverings and weapons. The stunning make-up is accentuated because it helps identify the character or the person played. Gods and respected kings are mostly white, angry and aggressive demons are red and the underworld is filled with black ghosts. (These colors and characteristics are used for all different Wayang shows).
During these sad, funny and action packed stories the stage is adapted and changed a lot. Beautiful paintings set the scene, enhanced by added props either a room in the palace, a dingy cave or a street in the country side. As is typical in Java, laughs and jokes are necessary to lighten up the serious plot. The clowns here are the Punokawan Brothers, Gareng, Semar, Petruk, Bagong who are clumsy in their understanding and interpretation of certain facts of life or maybe extremely clever. Anybody will laugh at their antics even if you do not understand the language, Javanese for this opera.
It is called an opera because there is an orchestra a Gamelan accompanying the songs and emphasizing scenes with special gongs. All the artists, musicians and singer actors have a university degree and are government employees. President Joko Widodo or Jokowi as he is called by the masses has implemented these changes when he was the Governor of Solo and witnessed the decline in interest and support for the traditional art forms. Today the ticket price for a show is very low and the hall was quite full; everybody can enjoy this Central Javanese art form.
The highlight of this trip was a rare ceremony at the palace or Keraton Surakarta: The Anniversary Procession of the Sultan’s Coronation and a Sacred Dance performed at this event. In Bahasa Indonesia: Tingalan Dalem Jumenangan Prosesi Ulang Tahun Penobatan Raja & Bedhoyo Ketawang.
Of course we discovered also glorious food; mainly street fare
The Royal Surakarta Heritage Solo by Sofitel is an amazing four star hotel in the center of Solo and walking distance from the Keraton (palace) that exquisitely displays Central Javanese cultural art and crafts. A must see and stay.
Another unique stay is Aziza Hotel by Horizon, an Islamic Boutique Hotel that caters to the Moslem guests; and is fully halal.
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