Revitalizing Potehi Practice: Preservation, Innovation, and Transmission by Rumah Cinwa in Contemporary Indonesia

  • Yuan-Hsin Tung University of Hawaii at Manoa, Ethnomusicology
  • Dewi Woro Retno Mastuti


Wayang potehi is a Chinese Hokkien glove puppetry heritage that was introduced to the Indonesian archipelago by the substantial influx of Chinese Fujian immigrants during the late sixteenth century to early seventeenth century. It used to be common in Chinese-Indonesian communities throughout Indonesia prior to President Suharto’s New Order Regime (1967-1998), primarily performed inside Chinese temples as a crucial means for Chinese to worship gods and ancestors, as well as an expression of gratitude for success in business. In the current Reformasi political era, the genre is generally regarded as a waning Chinese tradition that only appears in the region of Java. This article examines the preservation of wayang potehi in contemporary Indonesia, particularly through the various efforts devoted by Rumah Cinwa - a generation Z Indonesian dominated potehi troupe. Grounded by the framework of wayang potehi practice, these young practitioners’ flourishing creativity has catalyzed new styles in performance practice which they called wayang potehi Nusantara, namely Indonesia archipelago’s wayang potehi, displaying varying degrees of localization from the appearances of puppets to the content of repertoire to the music accompaniment. In addition, Indonesian cyberspace is used a site for digitally promoting these new styles and performance information across the country. This article argues that such efforts are attributed to the idea of multiculturalism that upheld by the contemporary Indonesia democratic regime. The active participation of the members of Rumah Cinwa in wayang potehi practice and innovation reveals their understanding of multiculturalism as sincerely embracing all cultural others in society, and which paving the way for the sustainability of the genre in the future Indonesia.

How to Cite
TungY.-H., & MastutiD. W. R. (2022). Revitalizing Potehi Practice: Preservation, Innovation, and Transmission by Rumah Cinwa in Contemporary Indonesia. The International Journal of Traditional Arts, 4(1). Retrieved from