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Inventing the Performing ArtsModernity and Tradition in Colonial Indonesia$
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Matthew Isaac Cohen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824855567

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824855567.001.0001

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Culture in Common

Culture in Common

Intersecting European, Javanese, and Chinese Art Worlds

(p.8) Chapter 1 Culture in Common
Inventing the Performing Arts

Matthew Isaac Cohen

University of Hawai'i Press

The constituent ethnic groups of nineteenth-century Indonesia shared arts – remaking them as what Raymond Williams called “culture in common.” European arts, including drama and music, promoted a sense of European identity in the tropics and dispelled boredom. European music was also appropriated: brass bands were hybridized by musicians in Java while church harmonies integrated with folk song in Ambon. While European participation in Javanese performing arts was once déclassé, a nineteenth-century “renaissance” of arts in central Java’s Javanese courts emerged through intense exchange with both Chinese and Europeans. The provision of arts to fill the Mangkunegaran court’s capacious Grand Gazebo resulted in much artistic innovation-including new forms of gamelan, langendriya, and wayang wong, and the reputation of court arts soared. Chinese opera, once a ritual theater and status symbol, became a business with the banning of slavery and the establishment of the Chinese-owned public theaters starting in 1870.

Keywords:   Indonesia, srimpi, wayang kulit, langendriya, Chinese opera, Ambonese folk song, intercultural exchange

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