Union Internationale de la Marionnette

Non-Governmental Organization affiliated to UNESCO


When planning a special event or ceremony in Bali, the calendar of auspicious days must be consulted to ensure success. And what could be a more auspicious time to host a UNIMA council meeting than on Tumpek wayang, or the day of the puppet in the Balinese Hindu calendar. As shared by our host Ibu Yulita Samodra,

“Tumpek Wayang/Landep Day in Bali is a holy day to respect the almighty God in His manifestation as the Sang Hyang Siwa Pasupati who is believed to be the supreme divine force 
– in Bali commonly known as “Taksu” of anything that exists in the universe including the living and non-living things.

While the puppeteers in Bali were preparing offerings and performing blessings for the day of Tumpek Wayang, the council meeting was in full swing. The morning session included voting on several statute amendments, including motions suggested by the Statutes commission to make the document better organized, to adopt a gender non-discrimination policy, and to promote actions that positively affect climate change. The council also considered a new associate member possibility proposed by the General Secretary, and several motions by councilor Franz Hakkemars to promote greater participation and transparency within UNIMA. And while withdrawn as a motion, the council is also excited to see the developments of an UNIMA Nordic interest group in the years to come!

In the afternoon councilors visited the Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets, a series a freestanding structures dedicated to puppets and masks from Bali and other global traditions. From there participants visited the Sukawati Market filled to the brim with beautiful Balinese crafts. At the final destination of the excursion, also in Sukawati, participants were welcomed on arrival to a chorus of kecak singers. Winding down the street to the rhythms of the kecak, participants then walked into the studio complex Sanggar Paripurna Bona of acclaimed dalang I Made Sidia. Immediately upon arrival a dance began as guests were treated to hot coffee and a selection of Balinese treats. Everyone then was invited to the large green space in the middle of the compound where the classic masked dance of the battle of good and evil – Barong and Rangda – took place. Once everyone was in place, the formal ceremony began and the puppets and those present were blessed with agama tirtha or “holy water.” For the final chapter in the night’s festivities, Sidia announced that we would be treated to a performance that had been created by his daughter Ayu. What followed was an immersive journey through darkness and light in a work that explored the traditions of the wayang through a contemporary lens. Through a diverse range of media and techniques performed by a large cast the performance included large scale shadowcasting, blacklight – even a moment in which the dancers rode some sort of hoverboard, evoking perfectly with their floating bodies the movement of a shadow puppet moving through space at the hands of a dalang, Through this performance the artists captured the dialogue between tradition and modernity ever present on the island.  Based on the joy emanating from all in attendance that night, it could be said “Taksu” was indeed present on this very special day.

photos of the tumpek wayang in Sanggar Paripurna Bona by Claudia Orenstein