Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Passing of a wayang kulit master

The legendary wayang kulit dalang Dollah Baju Merah of Kelantan has passed away. I had the privilege of making audio recordings of this magnanimous master at work last year and early this year.

You can check out these field recordings HERE.

Wayang kulit master Dollah dies

KOTA BARU: The struggle to keep alive Malaysia’s traditional arts has been dealt another blow.

One of the country’s last shadow puppet masters, Dalang Dollah Baju Merah, died at 3pm yesterday. He was 67.

Dollah, whose real name was Abdullah Ibrahim, was warded at the Kota Baru Hospital on Monday night for asthma and complications from a stroke suffered in 2000.

Eddin Khoo, a former journalist with The Star, who had been Dollah’s student for nearly a decade, was devastated at the news.

“A very real light has passed from my life. There was so much more to learn from him,” he said.

Dollah began performing the Wayang Kulit Siam at 13 and became well-known for designing puppets with modern attire.

He used current references in comic relief scenes and was immediately recognised in his favourite show time garb – a rebellious red T-shirt.

His spirited nature helped him persevere when the PAS-led Kelantan government banned the art form in 1990, a move that caused many wayang kulit troupes to fold up.

Although none of his 10 children (from two marriages) followed in his footsteps, Dollah worked with Pusaka – a non-profit organisation set up by Khoo – to research and document traditional art forms.

Dollah was buried at the Ketereh Muslim cemetery near his home in Kampung Batu Tinggi. - The Star

Interview with Pak Dollah


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