Topeng Cirebon

In Topeng Cirebon, there are five main dance characters that are always appear, in order of increasing strength and decreasing refinement, in every performance. They are:

  1. Topeng Panji Dance (most refined)
  2. Topeng Pamindo Dance (more vigorous)
  3. Topeng Rumyang Dance (an adolescent)
  4. Topeng Tumenggung Dance (strong and forceful -- he wears a tie, western hat, and sunglasses)
  5. Topeng Klana Dance (very strong and grand)

Each of the five dances refers, albeit somewhat indirectly, to a character from the wayang, or dance drama. While the dances are named for characters in the Panji story, each has a counterpart in other popular tales, such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Damarwulan.

Topeng Panji

PanjiTari Panji is the most refined dance. The motions used in this dance are very minimal; there is a great deal of stillness, yet the overall feeling is dynamic. The dance is slow, precise and graceful. Even though this dance is the most difficult dance to perform, visually it is the least exciting for audiences. Panji is a character with the innocence and simplicity of a newborn baby, yet he is also wise, self-controlled and humble.

The mask is also very simple in terms of its ornamentation; it is white and very plain, with no hair or other decorations, slanted eyes, closed lips, straight nose, and calm, downward gaze. Because of the plain design of the mask, mask makers believe it is the most difficult mask to make, because it must be made perfectly: errors cannot be camouflaged by decoration. The accompanying music Kembang Sungsang is long and difficult to play.

Topeng Pamindo

PamindoPamindo comes from the root word pindo which means second. Thus, mindo means the second act. While Panji is analogized to the innocence and simplicity of a newborn baby, Pamindo represents childhood. The difference between Panji and Pamindo is very big, because Pamindo is not considered refined but strong and more masculine. Pamindo is also referred to as Samba (Kresna’s son in Wayang Purwa or the Mahabharata), because Samba has a similar character. However, the dance itself does not refer to any story; instead, it refers to the sequence of the performance. Therefore, in this case, the sequence is more important than the story it represents.

Topeng Rumyang

RumyangRumyang can be seen as a continuation of Pamindo, and the character is a bit more refined and mature. In some locations where this dance is performed, the dancers or mask masters change the masks when they do this dance, whereas in other places, they don’t change the mask at all. However, basically they are all presenting the same dance with the same accompanying music, Rumyang. Except in the Slangit region, most places present Rumyang as the last part of the topeng performance, after the Klana dance.

Topeng Tumenggung

TumenggungThe character of Tumenggung in many places is referred to as “Patih” or minister (except in Losari where the mask appears more beastlike). The character is mature and strong, that of a high-ranking government official. The costume is quite interesting; the dancer wears a white-collared shirt under the top and a headdress with a rimless cap and white or black sunglasses. This costume follows the artist’s conception of a minister; the sunglasses are what officials often wear.

Some people believe that Tumenggung inspired the development of tari Kursus and that after Tari Kursus became popular in the 1920’s – 1930’s, this popularity and manner of performance in turn influenced the performance of Tumenggung.

Topeng Klana

KlanaThe Topeng Klana dance is also known as the Rahwana or Menak Jingga dance because it describes the personalities of all three of these characters and each of their stories has the same theme. Klana, Rahwana, and Menak Jingga are all have the character known as Raja Murka or the angry king (each is a raksasa or demon with ugly features and an evil nature). They are each in love with a beautiful princess belonging to one of the following main "good" characters: Panji, Rama, or Damarwulan.

Tari Klana is a very dynamic dance and the climax of the topeng performance. The character is very strong and can be rough or mean as it is a symbol of angry desire, which must be avoided or destroyed. But as a dance performance, Klana is the favorite character, a spectacular dance and an audience favorite. Even in the mid-1970’s people would come from far away just to see this dance mothers would bring their children to these performances to let them be carried by the dancer/mask master.

The mask of Klana has many different wanda or characters, that might not be clearly distinct from each other. There are at least four of these wanda:

  1. Barong - Big and mean
  2. Golek - small and mean
  3. Drodos - big, stupid, and funny
  4. Wringut - small and angry looking

Most people, even many dancers, are not familiar with all of these wanda. The two that are most often used are Golek and Wringut, with their mean expressions.