A Rich Heritage of Folk Dancing: Topeng Malangan at Tugu Malang

Malang is a bustling city boasting a booming art scene and is full of rich cultural heritage. With leafy, colonial-era boulevards and a breezy climate, the city has been dubbed “Parijs van Oostjava” as it resembles the beauty of the city of Paris.

The cultured city rich with blended Indonesian, Dutch colonial era and Chinese history and art is surrounded by the beautiful treasures of Java. A famous art form originating from the Malang Regency  is “Wayang Topeng Malang” or mask dance. Theatrical performances reviving the exoticism, opulence, and romanticism of Java through stories and dance blending the cultures of Central Java, Madura and Tengger.

The art of Topeng Malangan includes themes from a tragic love story between the legendary prince Panji in East Java from the kingdom of Janggala and Candra Kirana also known as Sekartaji, the princess of Daha, Kediri.

The story begins with the arranged marriage of Prince Panji Asmoro Bangun to Princess Chandra Kirana from the twin neighbouring kingdoms of Kediri and Janggala. The dynastic marriage was meant as a means of a peace agreement to reunite the two warring factions.

The prince of Jenggala loved to travel the country, during his stay travels, the prince fell in love with a beautiful commoner girl, Dewi Anggraeni. The prince married Anggraeni and took her home to the palace in Jenggala. The marriage caused an uproar in the royal courts.

To avoid war, the elders of the royal house plotted the assassination of Dewi Anggraeni. Panji and Anggraeni were separated and tricked by being told to meet each other in different places. After she learned that their action was meant to avoid war and bloodshed between two kingdoms, the girl willingly sacrificed herself. After Panji learned about the death of Anggraeni, the prince lost his mind and wreaked havoc across both kingdoms.

Meanwhile, in Kediri, Princess Kirana has learned about the fate of her future husband. Princess Kirana, disguised as a man, is later involved in a battle with Panji and manages to cure the Prince from insanity. Surprisingly Princess Kirana looks exactly like the late Anggraeni, as actually they both were incarnated from the same spirit, that of Kamaratih, the goddess of love. Panji and Kirana are then united in marriage and live happily ever after.

Panji tales have been the inspiration of Indonesian traditional dances, most notably the topeng (mask) dances. Performers wear masks known as wayang topeng or wayang gedog. Masks which have been developed in Malang have their own characteristics when compared to other region’s mask. Many of these works of art can be found at Hotel Tugu Malang.

Join us for an unforgettable evening, with our Indonesian Cultural Dining Series every 15th of the month at Hotel Tugu Malang. For bookings contact us at Tel: 0341 363 891 or malang@tuguhotels.com.