Malaysia Has Robot Dalang to Play and Defend Shadow Puppets

Pertunjukan wayang kulit.
Pertunjukan wayang kulit.
Sumber :
  • VIVA/Ikhwan Yanuar

VIVA – A college lecturer from Malaysia, Ahnaf Hakimi Ahmad makes a robot like a Dalang that aims to play and defend the shadow puppet theater or Indonesian known as Wayang Kulit tradition. He assembles animatronic shadow puppets at his studio, Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.

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"Wayang Kulit", a theatrical art form once popular across South-East Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia is traditionally performed with figurines crafted from buffalo skin, whose shadows are cast onto a screen.

The 33-year-old man hopes to save the shadow puppet tradition by using 3D-printed figures that are controlled by robots, not humans.

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As quoted through the Straits site on Thursday, November 3, 2022, Ahnaf wants the invention of the robot puppeteer to be enjoyed by many people with a modern appearance. It is known, Ahnaf spent IDR 66 million to make this discovery.

Ahnaf Hakimi Ahmad yang menciptakan robot dalang wayang kulit.

Ahnaf Hakimi Ahmad yang menciptakan robot dalang wayang kulit.

Photo :
  • Astro Awani
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"Most youths are more inclined to social media and television programs. So, with this animatronic wayang kulit show, it will certainly become a new phenomenon for young people. That's the hope," he said.

As well known, Wayang usually depicts Hindu epic stories such as the Ramayana in theatrical and musical performances for hours on end. Unfortunately, there are only about eight puppet groups currently active.

Although it can be found in several countries and is often considered a Malaysian culture, UNESCO recognized Wayang Kulit as Indonesian cultural heritage on November 7, 2003.

Wayang kulit is included in the category of amazing cultural works in the field of narrative stories and beautiful and precious heritage or Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Shadow puppets are usually placed behind a large screen so that they project their image onto the audience. However, efforts to preserve shadow puppets using robots have previously been initiated by India.

In India, Shadow puppets also known as tholpavakoothu were developed by a robotic startup called Inker Robotics. The technology company has previously been known for developing agricultural and industrial robots.

Together with tholpavakoothu activist, Lakshman Pulavar, they took the initiative to develop a robot to operate tholpavakoothu.

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