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Petruk, The Witty Bearer of Wisdom

In the book of “Mitologi dan Toleransi Orang Jawa” by Ben Anderson, Javanese people were mentioned to have the value of “adhiluhung” in interpreting their life. That value is reflected in the world of shadow puppet or “wayang” as the guidelines of life for Javanese people. One of the figures in shadow puppets is Petruk. This characteristic is so famous with his advice and also wisdom in life. He is the member of Punakawan which is so famous in the land of Java.

 

The Advice to The Nation from Petruk’s Action in Puppet Show

The name of Petruk came from the word “Fatruk” which meant leave everything except God. Since Javanese people were hard to say that word, Petruk appeared to replace the word Fatruk. However, it didn’t reduce the philosophy meaning of this figure. The appearance of Petruk was so famous within Javanese people from the official people to the ordinary people. Many people waited for him because Petruk was known to bring and give advice related to the religion for the society at that time in the society.

Petruk was actually the fiction figure in Javanese shadow puppet along with other famous figures such as Semar, Bagong and Gareng. All four figures are known as Punakawan. Punakawan itself came from the word “Puna” which means understand and also “kawan” which means friend. In the world of shadow puppet, Punakawan is so identical with servant of the king. However, they are not only servants but also the group of comedy that will melt the situation until they understand what is going on with the king.

Petruk was born from the unknown place in the puppet world and even in the puppet show, there is no detailed information about the birth of Petruk. There are some good points of views given by Petruk from his action to be a leader to his society until the unimportant things. Petruk understand it well and he could give the message through his action. According to Petruk, society is unlimited while king is limited. Here, Petruk saw how the relationship between leader and also society works. The leader doesn’t exist without society.

Petruk also reminds the limit of power so there will be a democration in the middle of society. The king has to get the recognition from the society and create the great situation to have the synergy between leader and society. This is the perfect thing for the nation so the leader will not be left by the society or in the political term means legitimating. This is quite reasonable since legitimating is the important factor in leadership. Meanwhile, in the scene of “Petruk Dadi Ratu”; Petruk lost his small axe or it was known as “Pethel”.

This is the weapon used by Petruk to cut the woods as the “wong cilik” or inferior person. Pethel is the identity of Petruk and if he lost it, it will make him lose something which is so important to him and he couldn’t do much without it. Basically, this scene is the critic to the nation’s entity which is losing its identity. The nation without identity will get difficulty to face many challenges ahead. That is why, it is so important for the nation to keep its identity to move forward into the better future. Those all are reflected into his action while giving the advice.

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