Wayang Golek Lenong Betawi and Tizar Purbaya
by Karen Smith

Wayang golek lenong betawi – a Betawi style of Indonesian rod puppetry that emerged in Jakarta – is a newcomer on the wayang stage. It was created as recently as 2000 by the Jakarta-based dalang, Tizar Purbaya.

There is the local shadow theatre form, wayang kulit betawi, which has been performed in the Jakarta region for some time. The repertoire of this regional style of shadow theatre, however, comes from the classical canon of stories based on the Indian Hindu epics – the Ramayana, Arjuna Sasrabahu (stories prefiguring events in the Ramayana) and the Mahabharata. In its style of performance and in its figures, wayang kulit betawi more or less resembles the Javanese form of shadow theatre. It is thus not particularly Betawi in language, style or content.

It was up to Jakarta-based dalang, Tizar Purbaya, to develop a new form of rod puppetry, or wayang golek, that would take its stories not from the great epics of Indian origin but from local legends and history: Betawi stories.

The Betawi are the indigenous people of present-day Jakarta, capital of the Republic of Indonesia. The Dutch called the place that would become the capital of the Dutch East Indies "Batavia" (from "Betawi"). After Indonesia's independence from the Netherlands in 1945, the city would be renamed "Jakarta", one of the most populous agglomerations in the world. Tizar Purbaya would call his new puppet form wayang golek lenong betawi as it was based on the repertoire of traditional Betawi theatre, the lenong.

The following information is based on three interviews with Tizar Purbaya made over a period of ten years (2004, 2010, 2014) as well as from the chapter on this dalang in Mimi Herbert's book, Voices of the Puppet Masters: The Wayang Golek Theater of Indonesia (published in 2002).

Tizar Purbaya
Born in 1950 in Banten (the westernmost province on the island of Java, bordering Jakarta) to a Betawi father and a Sundanese mother from Banten, Tizar Purbaya was a baby when his family moved to Jakarta. From a young age he was interested in the performing arts, especially the wayang golek rod puppets popular in the Sunda region of West Java. He attended wayang performances and listened to the regular wayang broadcasts on the radio. "I was lucky that when I was a kid [during the 1950s and early 1960s], there was no TV or outside culture to distract me," he explains. "When watching a performance, I used to sit inside the wooden box near the dalang [puppet master] where the puppets were stored, just so that I would be able to help him get the wayang in and out of the box . . . I even went to Jakarta to catch a live show [on my own]," Tizar Purbaya recalls. "I was about seven years old at the time. I was a free boy. I could go wherever I wanted to and no one would look for me." (Jakarta Globe, 31 January 2010) "[H]ere, in Jakarta, whenever there was a wedding or any sort of festive event there was always a wayang golek performance, which would draw large audiences. So puppeteers had a pretty good life, with no huge differences in wealth among them . . . Every dalang was a superstar . . . Wayang golek stirred something inside me. I dreamed of becoming a dalang . . . I learned through experience, not by formal study." (Voices of the Puppet Masters, p. 174)

In 1969, while still in his teens, Tizar Purbaya joined Teater Kecil, a repertory group led by the late Arifin C. Noer, where he studied acting, and performed in traditional Indonesian theatre. He started developing his own repertoire of stories. Much later, as an actor, he would perform in at least eight films, including Djakarta 1966 (1982), Blazing Battle (1983), The Queen of Black Magic (1983), and Jaka Sembung & Bergola Ijo (1985). Then, in 1972, he began his studies to become a dalang in the Sundanese style of wayang golek from the late Cakra Hudaya.

As he explains in an interview, "My original name was Tizar Muhammad, but I felt that Muhammad was too serious, too pure a name for a dalang, so I changed it to Purbaya, which is one of the names of the hero [of wayang] Gatotkaca." (Voices of the Puppet Masters, p. 177) His early performances were based on the classical Sundanese style of rod puppetry, wayang golek sunda, with stories from the Ramayana, Arjuna Sasrabahu, and the Mahabharata. He gave his first wayang golek performance as a dalang in 1974. It was held at South Jakarta Youth Center in Kebayoran Baru. This performance was followed by his participation in the 2nd Indonesian Wayang Week (Pekan Wayang Indonesia, a festival that, since 1964, would take place every five years), at that time held at an important arts venue, Jakarta Arts Center, Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM). His two-hour long wayang golek performance of the play Secamuka on this occasion was described by the then Minister of Education who attended the performance as "a new form of wayang golek—the dalang is performing in the style of the theater." (Voices of the Puppet Masters, p. 179) It was performed in Bahasa Indonesia (or Indonesian), his country's national language. As the dalang explains about his choice of language, "By following the basic rhythms of the Indonesian language, we created a style that's much livelier than the Sundanese performance style." (Voices of the Puppet Masters, p. 179) Throughout his career Tizar Purbaya would continue to perform wayang in the national language, Indonesian, for, as he explains, "while Sundanese is the language of wayang golek, there are many people in Jakarta—Javanese, people from Sumatra, people from Kalimantan—who cannot speak the language." (Voices of the Puppet Masters, p. 177)

Tizar Purbaya greatly admired the work of the late Parta Suanda from Bandung who, while being a traditional dalang, was also "revolutionary" and inventive, modernizing and expanding the performance elements and techniques of wayang golek, for example, using five or six assistants for the dancing scenes and women's voices for female characters. Tizar Purbaya equally admired the "superstar" of contemporary Sundanese wayang golek, the late Asep Sunandar Sunarya (1955-2014), who likewise created all sorts of new techniques while retaining the role of the solo dalang.

Recalling this early period of his career as a dalang, Tizar Purbaya had this to say: "I was a young dalang and also a member of the theater, and the way I did my shows was considered a bit controversial. There was satire, and social and political criticism were featured in my shows. I was named one of the dalang that had to be closely monitored." (The Jakarta Post, August 1, 2004) During the difficult years following the fall of Indonesia's first leader, President Sukarno, and the establishment of the new government of President Suharto, at a time when poverty was rife and street demonstrations a frequent part of life, artists who criticized the Suharto government in their works were blacklisted. In this environment, the idealistic young dalang had no interest in performing old legends that had little to do with contemporary reality. Instead, he would perform his own versions of these stories so that they were relevant to the problems that Indonesians were then facing.

In a biography of Tizar Purbaya, co-written with Utta Wickert, its English title In the Year of the Snake (translated into ten languages), and especially in the publication titled Wayang Stories / Wayang Geschichten (photographed, retold, and edited by Utta Wickert; adapted from wayang plays performed by Tizar Purbaya; translated into English by Lilo Oldenburg, and published in 1978 in English and German by P.T. Intermasa Jakarta), the stories that feature in his performances during this period of his career are featured. These stories are all intrinsically political in nature. As he revealed in a 2004 interview, "I believe that my stories were quite good and, more importantly they were needed, because there was no point in narrating historical stories that were irrelevant to the time. I wanted to tell a story that was in line with the conditions and needs of the people at that time." (The Jakarta Post, August 1, 2004)

"In the past, I sought to convey my emotions and my views on life. How did I feel about national development, about the military? I expressed all this in my performances. I felt an intense sense of satisfaction . . . Today . . . [t]he atmosphere is freer. What are the issues that should concern us at present? We have enough to eat. Is it the problem of justice, of the law? . . . I am not an ordinary dalang. Sometimes I perform to express what is bothering me, especially if it's a moral, social, or political issue. I particularly like that type of story and am truly gratified when I get a response from the audience. Sometimes I make up my own stories . . . [for example, there is a story] about an ugly giant with a good heart who goes to school and wins the hearts of the children even though they were terrified of him at first . . . I made that up for the modern puppets that I have created for children. It's not a traditional wayang story. There are many interesting stories. And so many wonderful characters." (Voices of the Puppet Masters, pp. 180, 183) The dalang talks about the characters of wayang purwa, such as Bisma and Karna from the epic Mahabharata, who, respectively, exemplify the sacrifice of personal interests for the sake of a father's happiness and the devotion to a mother even though she had abandoned her own child at birth. Or there is the character Jamadagni, whose story reveals the danger of overwhelming ambition. Beyond religion and ethnicity, Tizar Purbaya concludes, "If we really study the wayang we will discover important lessons for human life. There are greedy characters and patient characters, good and evil, weak and strong. We can learn from all of them. Truly, if we applied the wisdom of these stories to our lives it would be a very good thing." (Voices of the Puppet Masters, p. 184)

Tizar Purbaya's Sundanese style wayang golek performed in Indonesian featured a cast of characters from the classical repertoire, among them a Gotatkaca and a Semar made by master Bogor artist, Pak Ahim, as well as auxiliary characters that Tizar Purbaya had himself created, such as a blue-horned and bearded ogre that could smoke real cigarettes, spit blood and vomit!

Over the following four decades, Tizar Purbaya would perform his Sundanese style wayang golek shows, and from 2000, his own, new wayang form that he would call wayang golek lenong betawi, at events and festivals in his home town Jakarta, across Java, in Bali and on other islands and regions of Indonesia. Since 1979, Tizar Purbaya had also performed outside of Indonesia, including more than a dozen tours to Japan, among them a month-long tour of that country and training with a bunraku master puppet builder, as well as performances in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and India. Among these tours was a 1984 performance in Thailand for refugees fleeing Laos and shows for disabled children. And in 1988 he represented Indonesia at the UNIMA World Puppetry Festival held in Japan.

Tizar Purbaya, in referring to his commitment to wayang, used the term "seniman", which implies both a lover of art and a creator of art.

A Business Selling Wayang

Tizar Purbaya broadened his interest in wayang when, in 1978, he opened his first store in Pasar Seni in Ancol, North Jakarta, where he sold wayang that he had begun to collect from around the country including from dalang selling off their old sets of puppets. At the time Pasar Seni ("Art Market") was a hub for Jakarta-based artists, and Pak Tizar's wayang business flourished. "Pasar Seni was really good back then," he explains. "A lot of people went there, including tourists from foreign countries." But over time Pasar Seni would lose its position as a thriving art market and artistic hub: "Now [in 2010], it looks like a cemetery. There are only a few kiosks there that are still holding on." (Jakarta Globe, 31 January 2010). Tizar Purbaya then began selling wayang from his own home.

In time he also opened two small shops on Jalan Surabaya in Menteng, Central Jakarta. This street with scores of side-by-side stalls selling Indonesian, Chinese and European "antiques" (there are genuine old pieces to be found, including many of Pak Tizar's wayang that he had collected over the years) would in time become a tourist destination for shoppers on the look out for curios (presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and their families have both shopped on Jalan Surabaya).

A Collector of Wayang

Tizar Purbaya's home in Sunter Jaya, Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta today houses one of the largest private collections of wayang in the country. By 2013, his collection had amounted to over 8,000 wayang figures, many of which are part of complete sets of most of the extant wayang styles and forms from across the archipelago, including golek, kulit and klitik (Javanese: klithik), and the Chinese-influenced glove form wayang potehi, as well as the kotak (boxes), blencong (oil lamps), and other wayang equipment and paraphernalia. As described by one observer, "row upon row of the puppets line every nook and cranny of his two-story home . . . In the room where he receives visitors, a dazzling array of puppets is arranged neatly – almost from floor to ceiling – based on characters, origin and the region where they come from." (Jakarta Globe, 31 January 2010)

He had also helped other private collections of wayang, both in Indonesia and abroad. His own wayang puppets can be found in museums in Indonesia, such as the Museum Wayang in Fatahillah, Kota, Jakarta, and in Bali at the Setia Darma Rumah Topeng & Wayang (Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets), a collection of around 6,000 Asian masks and wayang puppets situated in a village in Mas, south of Ubud. Collector Gregory Churchill, whose wayang collection numbers over 6,000 figures set up in his own home in Ciputat, Jakarta, includes many of Tizar Purbaya's own wayang golek lenong betawi figures.

Birth of Wayang Golek Lenong Betawi

As government and public interest in wayang waxed and waned over the decades since Indonesian independence, Tizar Purbaya continued to perform, collect and in turn preserve old wayang that elderly dalang no longer had use for, and he sold wayang to avid collectors. By the 1990s he had also developed a new technique for creating wayang golek rod puppets and in the process created, in 2000, a new and local wayang tradition – wayang golek lenong betawi.

He had begun this process by creating portrait puppets that were realistically and beautifully carved by himself and his team of master craftsmen using photographs of actual people as models for the puppets' faces. He would also create portrait golek of world leaders, for example George Bush and his wife Barbara (which he would use in a performance during President Bush's visit to Jakarta in 1994, along with a golek puppet of the president's dog), and more recently of presidents Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela. Members of the local expatriate community would also commission portrait wayang golek of themselves, family and friends. These portrait wayang are usually dressed in traditional Javanese clothing, complete with a blangkon (Javanese batik cap).

Tizar Purbaya employed master craftsmen such as Pak Encang and Yakub, working with them to create the faces of portrait puppets as well as his own personal style of the Wayang Golek Lenong Betawi cast of characters that he would later create.

Events during the late 1990s – another turbulent period in Indonesia's modern history when the country was in the grip of financial and political turmoil that would eventually bring about political change – would lead to a new artistic direction for the dalang. With the sudden departure of many foreigners from Jakarta after the May 1998 riots and subsequent troubles in the country that would prompt President Suharto to step down from office after 32 years as Indonesia's uncontested leader, Tizar Purbaya was left with many unclaimed custom-made portrait wayang golek.

He resolved the problem by incorporating these puppets into his shows. "There were a lot [of puppets]," he recalls. "I didn't know what to do with these bule [foreigner, fair-skinned] puppets . . . I remembered I had always dreamed about doing something for Jakarta. I wanted it to have its own version of [wayang]. The Javanese have theirs, the Sundanese theirs. The Betawi didn't [at that time]," he said.

And thus Tizar Purbaya's wayang golek lenong betawi was born, with its stock of stories set during the Dutch colonial period and a stock of characters based on historical figures and local heroes and heroines of the struggle for independence against the Dutch colonizers. "I use the bule [foreigner] puppets I have as Dutch soldiers," Tizar explains. (Jakarta Globe, 31 January 2010) He would also adapt local folk stories and urban legends for his wayang performances. "I wanted to create an original Betawi art form, so I adopted the lenong (traditional Betawi comedy theater) as a theme, only this time the lenong would be visualized by the puppets." (The Jakarta Post, August 1, 2004)

His golek have realistic heads and features, very different from the traditional, stylized rod puppets of Central, North and West Java. The individual personality and nature of these legendary or historical characters or representative villagers and townsfolk of the time are realistically realized in very fine detail.

The first performance he gave of wayang golek lenong betawi was in 2001. This was a three-hour performance of Jampang Jago Betawi, Tizar Purbaya's first dramatic creation for this new style of wayang. The then Jakarta governor, Sutiyoso, attended the premiere, a performance that was well received. "I went on to perform in many locations, including the Wayang Museum [in Kota] and Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM). One establishment that is well known for its interest in the wayang culture is (the Muslim organization) Muhammadiyah and I performed for them to tremendous appreciation." (The Jakarta Post, August 1, 2004)

Technical Virtuosity of Tizar Purbaya's Wayang Golek

His favorite creations, however, are the golek he made during his earlier years as a dalang. These are trick and transformation puppets that can do special things. "My puppets can smoke, eat noodles and vomit," Tizar Purbaya explained, laughing. Inspired by the puppets of Japanese Bunraku (ningyō-jōruri), he learned new techniques that he would use in the building of his own golek. His puppets can blink their eyes and move their mouths. Certain scenes in his wayang golek lenong betawi productions call for spectacularly gory deaths, such as a head vertically cleaved in two, revealing viscera and eyeballs dangling from their stalks; less horrific deaths are stab wounds to the head (a trigger operated under the golek's skirt releases a knife that suddenly protrudes from the puppet's temple) or an arm cut off above the elbow . . . There are also figures that are two sided: a beautiful girl turns around and becomes a ghost . . .

Apparently, when he performed in Japan, the audience was impressed by the technical virtuosity of his puppets. "A professor who also makes bunraku puppets was part of the audience," Tizar remembered. "He asked me a lot of questions, such as how could the puppet's nose grow longer, or how they could puff on cigarettes." (Jakarta Globe, 31 January 2010)

Repertoire of Wayang Kulit Lenong Betawi

A share of Tizar Purbaya's repertoire of stories is based on well-known Betawi folk tales, such as the adventures of Si Pitung and Si Jampang, the principal characters of popular Robin Hood-style stories that were also made into stage plays that centered on extraordinary men (referred to as jago) who, though living as outlaws during the Dutch colonial period, generally fought for the common populace. These are local Betawi heroes.

Another of Tizar Purbaya's wayang golek lenong betawi plays is based on a Jakarta urban legend, a local ghost story called Si Manis Jembatan Ancol (The Sweet Maiden from Ancol Bridge). Jembatan Ancol (Ancol Bridge) is an actual bridge in Ancol, today a neighborhood of Jakarta. There are several versions of this story, which is purported to have taken place in the early nineteenth century (c.1817) when Jakarta was called Batavia by the Dutch colonial government. These versions are based on the story of a 16-year-old maiden named Siti Ariah (in some versions called Arie, and who would later also be known as Maryam) who flees her home rather than become a rich man's concubine, only to fall into the clutches of another wealthy man, a playboy from Ancol, who plans to abduct her. In some versions of the story, Ariah is raped and in her struggle to escape is killed, while in others she is murdered, her body then dumped in a paddy field close to Ancol. Over time many would claim they had seen Siti Ariah's ghost near Ancol Bridge. This urban legend is so well known that it has been made into at least two movies (in 1973 and 1993) and a TV series that featured the same stars as the 1993 movie.

In Tizar Purbaya's wayang version of the legend, the girl is neither raped nor killed, and the supernatural "ghost" elements are reconfigured. In the dalang's version, the girl runs away from home because she does not want to be the concubine of a Dutch man. She reaches the Ancol bridge where she is discovered weeping by a demon that lives under the bridge. In the meantime, another man with evil intentions has arrived at the bridge, planning to rape the girl. In order to save her, the demon turns into a human and fights this man. The man-demon then takes her under the bridge, and the two marry. The golek specially created for the role of the demon is painted green and has large ears. For the August 28, 2004 performance of Si Manis Jembatan Ancol held at the National Archives building in West Jakarta and on September 4 at TIM, both stages were transformed into the Ancol Bridge.

Tizar Purbaya's wayang golek lenong betawi repertoire, to date, consists of three plays. Besides the 90-minute-long Si Manis Jembatan Ancol (The Sweet Maiden of Ancol Bridge), there is the two-hour long Jampang Jago Betawi (Jampang, the Betawi Hero), and Beningnya Hati Seekor Macan (The Good Tiger), a wayang show designed for children with a flexible playing time of 30-60 minutes.

Jampang Jago Betawi is a Robin Hood-style local legend. The Indonesian word "jago" refers to a pencak silat, or martial arts expert, possessing magical power to boost his self-confidence in fighting; the term has various meanings, including, "champion" and "the favorite to win", thus a jago is regarded as someone to be respected by the community because of his gifts or talents as well as his social status. The story told by dalang Tizar Purbaya of the legendary Betawi hero, Jampang, goes as follows. After returning home after being imprisoned for many years for inciting rebellion against the Dutch, Jampang sees a thug named Jun, who works for the Dutch colonialists, and his assistant beating up an old man for not paying them extortion money. Incensed by this injustice, Jampang attacks and drives away the thugs, who vow revenge as they flee. After helping the old man, Jampang learns of the death of his father who had died in cruel circumstances in a gambling and prostitution house run by a criminal gang. Led by Jun, the gang has been perpetuating atrocities on Jampang's village. The villagers call on the local hero to destroy the gang and free them from its oppression. Jampang uses his wits and his machete to topple the criminals and in the process saves the village. In the show, Tizar combined drama with comedy, delivered through dialogue and the gestures of his golek, which include a puppet that can smoke, a puppet that bleeds from excruciating wounds, as well as charming puppets that dance.

The third play, Beningnya Hati Seekor Macan (The Good Tiger), is a recently created wayang show, designed for children, that tackles the question of deforestation. The plot is as follows. As there is no food in the forest anymore for the tigers, these carnivores are forced to enter the village to seek their food, and end up eating the human's livestock of goats and buffalo. Humans and tigers inevitably come into conflict, but eventually make peace after the humans promise to no longer destroy the tigers' habitat but, instead, preserve it.

While the plots of his wayang golek lenong betawi plays are based on historical, legendary or local folk characters and their tales, Tizar Purbaya would adapt these stories to relate to or comment on current events. This of course is an important part of a dalang's art: master dalangs are adept at weaving current references and connections into a set story that is not based on contemporary events (such as stories based on folk tales, legends, or the Hindu and Arabic epics). As Tizar Purbaya explained, "As long as you know the basics of the story, with all the characters, you can change the setting to today . . . Take, for example, when [the Islamic group] Muhammadiyah asked me to perform. I used a story about raids over so-called wrongdoings, you know like the ones [by the hard-line Muslim group] FPI, but the main character was Si Jampang [a legendary Betawi character said to have lived during the colonial era]."

Although Tizar Purbaya's wayang performances were usually imbued with contemporary social and political references, he chose not to make judgments in those stories he performed that are based on controversial contemporary events, especially those in which the truth about the controversy (e.g. regarding individual, government or institutional corruption) had not been verified. "One thing for sure is that I don't want to become famous on [the back of] people's sorrows." (Jakarta Globe, 31 January 2010)

Pak Tizar attributed the success of his new art form, wayang golek lenong betawi, to the fact that it speaks to Jakartans: "It's very communicative with the Betawi lifestyle." He explained that while there are performances of wayang kulit betawi shadow theatre, more often than not these performances feature Javanese wayang, Sundanese gamelan music and Sundanese songs, and the story might come from the Ramayana or Mahabharata repertoire, not from local Betawi culture. "It's only the language that is Betawi . . . Whereas the features of wayang golek lenong betawi hail strictly from Betawi (culture). It's created in Betawi, the story is from Betawi, the gamelan comes from gambang kromong betawi with Betawi [songs and Indonesian] language." (The Jakarta Post, August 1, 2004)

The gambang kromong is a traditional orchestra of the Betawi people, which is a blend of gamelan, Western music and Chinese-style pentatonic base tones. The instruments are the gambang kayu (a wooden xylophone-like instrument), kromong (a set of 5 toned bonang, i.e. ten bronze kettles suspended over a wooden frame), two Chinese stringed rebab-like instruments called tek yan or ohyan and gihyan with its resonator made out of a small coconut shell, a diatonic pitched flute that is blown crosswise, the bronze gong-like kenong and the gendang drums. Western instruments such as trumpets, guitars, violins, and saxophones may also be included. The instruments that provide the musical accompaniment to Tizar Purbaya's wayang golek lenong betawi performances include the gambang, kromong, tek yan, kendang, a Western trumpet or small saxophone. Five musicians and one female singer (sinden) make up Tizar's orchestra. Tizar Purbaya performed the puppets and provided their voices with the help of four assistants – two to transport the wayang and two to help the dalang during performances. Sons Ricky and Reza hold and move subsidiary golek characters but do not give voice to the puppets.

The Future of Wayang Golek Lenong Betawi

Tizar Purbaya was concerned about the future of the wayang form he had created. "My worry for the wayang golek lenong betawi is its continuation. I do not want it to start and end with me. I'd like to see the city government become more involved, maybe making a course for Betawi youngsters on the art of puppetry," he had said, noting that courses should also be offered for other Betawi cultural forms, such as dance. "We [the Betawi] have a building very far away in Situ Babakan [or Setu Babakan, a Betawi cultural heritage site located in Srengseng Sawah, Jagakarsa district, South Jakarta], whereas the Sundanese have Gedung Mis Tjitjih, the Javanese have Wayang Orang Bharata building [both of which are more centrally located in Jakarta]. The Betawi people have nothing [here locally in Jakarta], even though this is Jakarta . . ."

He held the opinion that native Betawi culture – including the dances, the wayang and the storytelling traditions – in Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, has been passed over and is in danger of being forgotten. "Efforts should be more intensive because many aspects of the Betawi culture have either been lost or pushed to the periphery." (The Jakarta Post, August 1, 2004) He had hoped to see the Jakarta administration set up a school open to all who wish to learn wayang golek lenong betawi. "It's too bad they haven't thought about things like that," he had said. "It would be hard for me to do it myself. First, I'm too old to build a school. Then it wouldn't be easy to secure a location for it and get the funding. I'm tired." (Jakarta Globe, 31 January 2010) In 2015, there is still no school offering formal training in the Betawi performing arts.

Tizar Purbaya wanted to see new Betawi puppeteers follow in his footsteps. "I did not create this for myself, this is for everyone," he said. His three sons, Mario (b.1980), Ricky (b.1981) and Reza (b.1987), worked alongside their father at home or at their two Jalan Surabaya shops. The three sons also love and respect Indonesia's many wayang traditions. Over the past several years, Tizar Purbaya's middle son, Ricky Purbaya, has become a dalang, performing stories from the wayang golek lenong betawi repertoire. Both he and his brother Reza assisted their father in his performances. His sons appear to be fully committed to carrying on the new tradition that their father had founded. Only the future will tell whether Tizar Purbaya's legacy to wayang will result in a new living tradition – that of wayang golek lenong betawi.

Tizar Purbaya died on April 23, 2015, after suffering a stroke.


Herbert, Mimi, and Nur S. Rahardjo. Voices Of The Puppet Masters: The Wayang Golek Theater Of Indonesia. Jakarta and Honolulu: The Lontar Foundation and University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. 252 pp. Ill.

Mardiyati, Ade. "TIZAR PURBAYA. A Wayang Master and His Puppets." In Jakarta Globe. 31 January 2010.

Prathivi, Niken. "'Traditional Show': Betawi's wooden puppets grace Jakarta mall." In The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, March 02 2014.

Wijayanti, Emiria. "Puppeteer Tizar a one-man show for Betawi arts." In The Jakarta Post. Sun, August 01 2004.

"The Sweet Maiden of Ancol Bridge"
20 Jun 2013 - 77 min
Semanis Jembatan Ancol, Wayang Golek Betawi, Dalang Bang Tizar Purbaya, Jakarta.