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Sungsang Bawono Balik [The World Upside Down] (2007)

Director: Sigit Sukasman

How to cite: Sigit Sukasman ([2007] 2016), Sungsang Bawono Balik [The World Upside Down], translation and notes by Miguel Escobar Varela, Yosephin Novi Marginingrum and Thomas Sembodo. Singapore: Contemporary Wayang Archive. Retrieved from http://cwa-web.org/en/SungsangBawonoBalik.


As a punishment for his father's mistakes, crown prince Seroja Kusuma is born with an ugly form. The Gods change him into a handsome young man, but he must undergo training before he can marry and become a proper king. His training involves a trip to the future (our present day), where he contemplates the double-edged sword of technology and understands the perils of overpopulation.

Story: Mahabharata, Contemporary Situation

Music: Gamelan

Space: Gedebog, Modified Screen, Proscenium Stage

Performers: Multiple Dalang, Actors

Puppets: Modified Traditional

Language: Indonesian

Recording details

Notes: Performed on 17 February 2007.

Produced by: Taman Budaya Yogyakarta

Recording place: Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta

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Translation and notes by Miguel Escobar Varela (MEV), Yosephin Novi Marginingrum (YNM) and Thomas Sembodo (TS).

1. Paguyuban is an informal organization, a circle of friends united by a common goal MEV.

2. Narada / Batara Narada is the son of Sang Hyang Caturkanwaka / Sang Hyang Kaneka and Dewi Laksmi, and he is therefore also known as Kanwakaputra / Sang Hyang Kanekaputra. He is one of the main gods in heaven YNM.

3. The characters in the following scene are Limbuk and her mother Cangik. They are often refered to as female clowns, and the scene in which they appear is called Kedhatonan or Limbukan. In this scene they often joke about the impossibility of Limbuk to find a husband MEV.

4. tidak pernah prihatin [you have not been careful] refers in this context to a lack of discipline in religous practices, for things such as fasting and praying YNM.

5. A reference to the writer and director of this show, Ki Sigit Sukasman MEV.

6. The following are common childrens' songs YNM.

7. The last part of ya hanya itu, ma [yes, that's it, father] sounds like tuma[flea] YNM.

8. Dunia ini tidak selebar panggung suggests that the world is narrow. Here, the character jokingly substitutes the name of the tree for panggung [stage] MEV.

9. Seroja Kusuma and Saraja Kusuma are other names for Leksmana Mandrakumara, the son of Duryudana and Banowati. He is the main foe of Abimanyu, Arjuna's son and will end up fighting him for blessings from the gods and romantic partners. Furthermore, Saraja Kusuma will fight Abimanyu since the latter is the rightful heir of the Astina Kingdom YNM.

10. Tapa ngramé is a kind of ascetic practice that does not require withdrawal from the world, but rather partaking actively in social life YNM.

11. This song is used mostly to set up a mood rathen than for narrative purposes.

12. Kěmběn is a traditional torso wrap worn by women; wiron is the fold the sarong TS.

13. See note 10.

14. Santèt is a magic spell used for evil purposes YNM.

15. Tĕri is a small ocean fish. By contrast, kakap is a big fish. Both these fishes are used to indicate the scale of events. For example, a penjahat kelas teri is a petty criminal YNM.

16. Javanese: Cakra manggilingan [turning wheel] YNM.

17. Mar is a short form for Semar MEV.

18. Babo is a word used to encourage people to act courageously YNM.

19. Samba is the Son of Kresna and Dewi Jambawati. In the story “Wahyu Cakraningrat” Samba takes part in a competition for the Cakraningrat Amulet and successfully obtains it. However, due to his arrogant character he eventually loses this amulet. In the Yogyakarta tradition he is part of the story “Samba Sebit”, a story that is considered spiritually powerful but is rarely performed since it can bring bad fortune. This story corresponds to the 16th Parma [chapter] of the Mahabarata, where Samba is killed in a cudgel fight. The blood of the Yadawa [gods related to Kresna] is spilled because of a combat amongst brothers YNM.

20. Sěmbada [capable, self-sufficient] MEV.

21. Wirata is the kingdom that Matswapati / Durandana inherited from Basukati / Basuketi, his father. The Wirata kingdom is often mentioned in the stories where the Pandawa reemerge from their exile on the forest. In the Baratayuda, Wirata sides with the Pandawa, which results in the loss of Wirata’s sons: Resi Seta, Arya Utara, and Arya Sena / Wratsangka YNM.

22. Siti Sendari is the Daughter of Batara Wisnu and Dewi Pratiwi (the daughter of Nagaraja and Sumur Jalatunda). Her brother was Bambang Sitija. Siti Sendari joined her brother in his search for his father. After finding him, Sitija became king of Prajatisa and Siti Sendari followed Kresna (an incarnation of her father Wisnu) to the Dwarawati Kingdom. Siti Sendari later married Abimanyu, and had no children with him. Siti died after climbining onto her husband's funeral pyre, who died in the Baratayuda war YNM.

23. Gara-gara [the upheaval] is a comic interlude, the part of a wayang performance where the clown servants appear and talk about issues not necessarily related to the main story line MEV.

24. Javanese: "Gumrěgah" [to wake up ready for work] TS.

25. Cancut tali wanda [to lift the clothes tied around the waist] is an expression that indicates preparation for work or combat YNM.

26. Nusantara is another word for the Indonesian archipelago. Although still in usage today, it was especially common before colonial times MEV.

27. Panti Rapih is a famous private hospital in Yogyakarta MEV.

28. These sounds, conventionally spoken by Semar, indicate that ogres have woken up from their long sleep YNM.

29. This piece is called Sekar Durma and corresponds to the manyura pathet MEV.

30. Sabdaning kukila[the word of the bird] indicates a song that has the dhandhanggula meter, a poetric form YNM.

31. Kanigara pterospermum acerifolium YNM.

32. The three of them are Bima's children YNM.

33. Sungsang Bawana Balik [The World is Upside Down] is the name of the performance MEV.

34. Wisanggeni is the son of Arjuna and Dewi Dresanala, the daughter of Batara Brahma. This marriage took place when Arjuna was the king of Kaindran, as recognition for his service to Suralaya after defeating Prabu Niwatawaca, the king of Imaimantaka / Manimantaka. Wisanggeni was born in the womb of Dewi Dresanala in the shape of a strong fire, and became an extraordinary child in terms of his intelligence and his spitual powers. His wife was Dewi Mustikawati, the daughter of Prabu Mustikadarwa, the king of Sonyapura. He lives in the Daksinageni heaven with his mother Dewi Dresanala and his family YNM.

35. Momong salira also refers to someone not ready to marry YNM.

The honorifics in the original languages were retained in the subtitles. In Javanese and Indonesian, speakers address their interlocutors with over 40 different honorifics which denote differences in their relative status and level of intimacy.

ID = Indonesian

JW = Javanese

Adik. ID. Younger brother/sister. It is used for addressing younger people, not necessarily one's relatives.

Adinda. ID. Younger sister. More intimate than adik.

Babé. ID/Betawi. Familiar form of father, commonly used in Jakarta.

. ID/Betawi. Short form of Babé, father. Jakartan slang. 

Bang. ID. Older brother, short form of abang. If used with non-relatives, it is has the connotation of a slang, and is somewhat equivalent to “man” in English.

Bĕndara. JW. Master.

Bibi. JW/ID. Aunt. A way of addressing/referring to older women. 

Bos. ID/JW. An adaptation of the English "boss". Used either to refer to one's superior or to a friend in a joking context, for example, when a person orders others around without realizing he/she is doing so. 

Bu. ID/JW. Short form of ibu, mother.

Bung. ID. Similar to bang, but slightly less formal.  It might mean "comrade". The political leaders of the independence war are often referred to with this term, for example Sukarno is often referred to as

Bung Karno. 

Dara. JW. Short form of bĕndara, master. 

Dèn. JW. Sir, master, used to address royalty. Short form of radèn.

Dhé. JW. Short form of pakdhé, uncle.

Dhik. JW. Short form of adhik. Younger brother/sister. It is used for addressing younger people, not necessarily one's relatives.

Éyang. JW. Grandfather.

Dimas. JW. Younger brother.

Gusti. JW. Lord. Used to address superiors and Gods.

Ibu. JW/ID. Mother. Used generically to address women who are older than the speaker.

Kakang. JW. Older brother.

Kakang mbok. JW. Older sister.

Kanda. ID. Older brother. Formal.

Kang. JW. Older brother. Informal.

Kangmas. JW. Older brother.

Kaki. JW. Uncle

Kang. JW. Older brother, used generically for men older than the speaker. It is a shortened version of kangmas).

Kakak. JW/ID. Older brother/sister, used generically for people who are older than the speaker.

. JW. Son, short version of tholé.

Lik. JW. Often used between friends as a slang term of address. Uncle, "little father." Short form of {paklik}.

Ma. JW. Same as  pak, short form of rama.

Mbak. JW/ID. Older sister. Used generically for women who are slightly older than the speaker.

Mamang. ID. Uncle.

Mang. ID. Uncle, short form of mamang.

Mas. ID. Older brother, used generically for men who are older than the speaker. Although it is also a shortened version of the Javanese kangmas people prefer to use mas in Indonesian and kang in Javanese.

Mas bro. ID. Slang used among male friends. In a way, it is a reduplication.

Mbah. JW/ID Grandfather, grandmother. It is used generically to address people who are much older than the speaker. Short form of simbah.

Mbok. JW. Mother, short form of simbok. Used generically for women who are older than the speaker.

Mbokdhé. JW. Aunt. Literally, "big mother".

Mbul. JW. Informal term of address between close male friends.

Ndara. JW. Master. 

Nduk. JW. Daughter, short form of gĕndhuk.

Nggèr. JW. Son, short form of anggèr Used generically for people who are younger than the speaker, with whom the speaker is on intimate terms.

Nimas. JW. Younger sister. 

Nok. JW. West Javanese term for daughter, short form of dhénok.

Nona. ID. Miss, unmarried woman.

Paduka. ID. Your Excellency. 

Pak. JW/ID. Father, used generically for men who are older than the speaker.

Pakdhé. JW. Uncle. Used to refer to a man who is older than one's father. 

Paman. ID. Uncle. Used to refer to a man who is older than one's father. 

Pangéran. JW/ID. Prince.

Prabu. JW. King.

Radén. JW. Master, used for royalty.

Rama. JW. Father. It can also be used to designate catholic priests when one is speaking in Indonesian. 

Simbah. JW/ID Grandfather, grandmother. It is used generically to address people who are much older than the speaker. 

Sinuwun. JW. Very formal way to address a man, reserved for sultans, kings and Gods.

Siwa. JW. Term for addressing older people. 

Siwak. JW. Same as Siwa. Term for addressing older people. 

Tholé. JW. Son

Tuan. ID. In colonial contexts, this is the way foreigners are addressed but it can also mean sir.

Wa Nĕrpati. JW. Uncle king, equivalent to the Indonesian paman raja.

Wa. JW. For addressing older people, short form of siwa.

Yayi. JW.  Younger brother/sister.

Yunda. JW. Older sister.

See the Translation conventions.



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