Classical Male Topèng

The Story of Empu Tapa Wèngkèng 

Sattwa Empu Tapa Wengkeng
(Performed by I Ketut Kodi for the consecration ceremony for GEOKS). 

Once upon a time in Bulalak village in East Java there was a proud Sage called Tapa Wèngkèng, who had just completed building his new retreat for meditation (pasraman). Satisfied with his newly build retreat, he spoke very highly of it to all and sundry. Unfortunately this was not the right conduct for a religious man and most inappropriate. Disturbed by his arrogance, the gods sent a message to the sage in the form of a whisper in the air, telling him that his new retreat was still impure. In order to purify it before he could make use of it, he would have to hold a consecration ceremony, which would require very special offerings, as they should include a human sacrifice. Upon hearing this voice from the unseen world, the sage realized that he had done something inappropriate and was therefore being punished by the gods. Night and day he locked himself inside his room, not knowing what to do to find someone to be sacrificed. In the end, realizing the nature of the problem, the sage's very dear old servant, I Kelik, offer himself as the sacrifice. The servant however made one condition. It was that the sage must make very special prayers for him, so that in his next reincarnation I Kelik would be born with a higher caste status, so he would no longer be a Sudra servant, but a highly respected person of standing. After carefully considering I Kelik's offer and his request, the sage promised that he would do his utmost to ensure his servant's future elevation of status. So, for the sage, the story had a happy ending: he fulfilled the demands of the ceremony and made special prayers (puja) for a better future life for I Kelik. 

All the photographs below are of I Ketut Kodi whom we would like to thank for his permission to use them.

© Mark Hobart 2015