Langen means entertainment, Mandra means many and wanara is monkey in Javanese. Langen Mandra Wanara is a dance opera with the story of Ramayana. In Ramayana legend many monkey warriors bravely helped Rama to free his beautiful wife Sinta, abducted by the ogre giant-king, Rahwana.
In this dance, the
dialogue is held by singing macapat tembang (songs), sung by each
dancer. So the dancers are required to have a strong good voice besides
dance ability. Another significant factor in Langen Mandra Wanara
performance is: the dancing is conducted in a squatting position.
This dance is called Langendriyan if the story presented is Damarwulan, a legend of Majapahit kingdom in the 14th
century. Damarwulan was a village boy worked as a servant of the Patih
(First Minister) of Majapahit. He was treated very badly by the Patih
and his prodigal sons. But Patih's daughter secretly felt in love with
the handsome polite villager. She knew also that in fact Damarwulan was
sakti (having strong supernatural power) The peaceful kingdom was
shocked by a rebellion led by a powerful Adipati (viceroy) Minak-jinggo.
beautiful queen of Majapahit announced a prize contest stating: the one
who can conquer Minakjinggo, live or death, if a man should be her
husband, if a woman should be her sister. The happy ending was:
Damarwulan appeared to be a hero.
Langen Mandra Wanara
as well as Langendriyan were created and developed by Patih (first
minister) Danurejo VII of Yogyakarta at the end of 19th
century. These became classical dances developed outside the karaton
(Sultan Palace) wall. Danurejo was an official name of every Patih,
given by Sultan of Yogyakarta, every Sultan used to have a Patih. This
position discontinued by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX.
The first Patih was
Patih Danurejo I appointed by Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. He was a loyal
and brilliant supporter of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I, even before the
establishment of Yogyakarta Sultanate in 1749. Due to his loyalty and
bravery, he was granted a position as patih. He was given a dignified
residence and office located in downtown (the present Malioboro street).
This building is called to present date Kepatihan Danurejan, means the
office of Patih Danurejo. Since the country's independance is the office
of the Governor of Yogyakarta Special Region.
Due to Patih high
position, Patih in many occasions held his own social functions by the
blessing of the Sultans of course. It is easily understood that arts
were also developed, new kinds created among other the Langen Mandra
The Patih office
(Kepatihan) had its own dancers, gamelan players singers, etc. Some of
them had great names in arts. Langen Mandra Wanara became famous dance
opera, appreciated by the community outside the karaton wall, even
outside Yogyakarta region. Some dance organizations also performed this
new type of dance opera.
In the earlier days
the dance was performed only by male dancers. In its development Langen
Mandra Wanara and Langendriyan have become a popular dance.
In 1960's, for the
first time, it was danced with standing position, not squatting. It was
successful, more impressive, more relax and beautiful voices could be
heard. It is becoming more attractive as nowadays the dancers cum
singers do not wear masks anymore.