Langen Mandra Wanara

Langen means entertainment, Mandra means many and wanara is monkey in Javanese. Langen Mandra Wanara is a dance opera with the story of Ramayana. In Ramayana legend many monkey warriors bravely helped Rama to free his beautiful wife Sinta, abducted by the ogre giant-king, Rahwana.

In this dance, the dialogue is held by singing macapat tembang (songs), sung by each dancer. So the dancers are required to have a strong good voice besides dance ability. Another significant factor in Langen Mandra Wanara performance is: the dancing is conducted in a squatting position.


This dance is called Langendriyan if the story presented is Damarwulan, a legend of Majapahit kingdom in the 14th century. Damarwulan was a village boy worked as a servant of the Patih (First Minister) of Majapahit. He was treated very badly by the Patih and his prodigal sons. But Patih's daughter secretly felt in love with the handsome polite villager. She knew also that in fact Damarwulan was sakti (having strong supernatural power) The peaceful kingdom was shocked by a rebellion led by a powerful Adipati (viceroy) Minak-jinggo.

The beautiful queen of Majapahit announced a prize contest stating: the one who can conquer Minakjinggo, live or death, if a man should be her husband, if a woman should be her sister. The happy ending was: Damarwulan appeared to be a hero.

Kepatihan Danurejan

Langen Mandra Wanara as well as Langendriyan were created and developed by Patih (first minister) Danurejo VII of Yogyakarta at the end of 19th century. These became classical dances developed outside the karaton (Sultan Palace) wall. Danurejo was an official name of every Patih, given by Sultan of Yogyakarta, every Sultan used to have a Patih. This position discontinued by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX.

The first Patih was Patih Danurejo I appointed by Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. He was a loyal and brilliant supporter of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I, even before the establishment of Yogyakarta Sultanate in 1749. Due to his loyalty and bravery, he was granted a position as patih. He was given a dignified residence and office located in downtown (the present Malioboro street). This building is called to present date Kepatihan Danurejan, means the office of Patih Danurejo. Since the country's independance is the office of the Governor of Yogyakarta Special Region.

Art Appreciation

Due to Patih high position, Patih in many occasions held his own social functions by the blessing of the Sultans of course. It is easily understood that arts were also developed, new kinds created among other the Langen Mandra Wanara.

The Patih office (Kepatihan) had its own dancers, gamelan players singers, etc. Some of them had great names in arts. Langen Mandra Wanara became famous dance opera, appreciated by the community outside the karaton wall, even outside Yogyakarta region. Some dance organizations also performed this new type of dance opera.

In the earlier days the dance was performed only by male dancers. In its development Langen Mandra Wanara and Langendriyan have become a popular dance.

In 1960's, for the first time, it was danced with standing position, not squatting. It was successful, more impressive, more relax and beautiful voices could be heard. It is becoming more attractive as nowadays the dancers cum singers do not wear masks anymore.

(As told by Mr. Mulyono, a senior dancer of Yogyakarta to Joglosemar Online)

Suryo S. Negoro

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