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Balinese Answer for Aesop’s Fables  

by on Thursday, 24 April 2008One Comment | 1,974 views

The west has Aesop fable, which deals with the numerous fables and the Balinese answer for this series of the fables, is Tantri story. The Tantri story is the name of Javanese version on the Hindu Pancatantra, a collection of stories originated from India. The Tantri story is a mixture of Aesop fables and Thousands and One night story. The story began to be introduced in Bali after Bali was subjugated by Majapahit Kingdom of East Java.


The Tantri story can be summed up as follow. There was a king who wants a fresh virgin every night to satisfy his passion, until a particularly gifted girl, whose name was Tantri the daughter of the Prime Minister, who has been responsible for the supply of the virgins, succeeds in captivating the attention of the king by her unfinished animal story that night follows night and still he lived only for the diverting end. A last she becomes so indispensable to him that the king make her his wife.


At first the Tantri story is associated with ancient drama called Gambuh, in this ancient drama performances the animal stories are no longer performed. After the Gambuh the Tantri story is incorporated into other form of dramatic performances. Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) incorporated this story and even create a genre based on this story, which is known as Wayang Tantri. The Wayang Tantri put more emphasis on the animal stories of the Tantri by adding many animal characters to the classic shadow puppet’s character repertoire.

The descendant of Gambuh, Arja (traditional Balinese opera) incorporated this story in the same way with its ancestor, excluding the animal stories. Tantri also incorporated into the dance such as Legong, Baris (warrior dance) and Topeng (masked dance). The latest development of the Tantri story is the incorporation of the story into contemporary dramatic performance such as Drama Gong and Sendratari.

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