The last breath of the prince
The present book is the result of a passion for a specific type of performing arts, namely the Javanese masked dance or familiarly known as wayang topeng. A story, through a masked dance performance, with roots and elements originating from an ancient, preHindu creation myth, and retold in the 21st century in ever fewer rural villages in East and Central Java (Indonesia). Sadly, the syncretism, once so characteristic of Javanese mysticism, is fading away rapidly in a modernizing Indonesia. The Panji mask dance is today still performed by small groups in the island. Artistically, the owner of this book will find images which manage to speak for themselves, courtesy of the unique approach, editing skills and the angle choices of the photographer. Yet a brief narrative offering historical, literary, spiritual and anthropological aspects of the dance captured in the photos will serve well to lift a bit of the inherent mystery and hidden meanings of this endangered performing art. When the master of a craft or the keeper of the knowledge is gone, there is nothing but material traces and vague memories left behind, crumbling away with time; there is no way to recreate their deepest intangible history and state of existence. It is already too late for hundreds, or more likely thousands, of such cultural manifestations around the world. For the few surviving traditions, the time is now to safeguard continuous evolution and interpretation of their ancient spiritual cultural heritage.