Faces of Jakarta: Topeng Monyet

You will NOT like this. “Topeng Monyet” literally translates “Monkey Mask” in English, although it would be more appropriate to translate it into “The Monkey Dance”. I believe the western counterpart also had similar thing went on a long time ago. Usually a monkey accompanied by a man turning a portable jukebox standing on the street performing tricks.
More or less the same in Jakarta. Although in Jakarta not so long time ago the monkey would wear colourful clothes, carried a small handbag and a miniature umbrella. Most of the time the monkey’s name would be Sarimin. Don’t ask me why the name was so popular among monkeys. Sarimin then would do a trick where “Sarimin Pergi ke Pasar” or “Sarimin is going to the market”. Holding his umbrella over his shoulder and handbag under his armpit. Children would clapped and soon the dirty metal tin wold be filled with small changes.
The Topeng Monyet disappeared for a while. I wasn’t sure why, or maybe because I wasn’t paying attention because I was to busy going to the mall like average Jakartan teens. But I realised that now they are back as goths. Beats me why. Most of the monkeys now look like they have just popped out of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” video with a decapitated doll heads worn over their faces. So sorry there isn’t a floating Trent Reznor around, although it might make things more interesting. There is no colourful robes, mini umbrella, or stylish little handbag. It’s just a monkey in a chain standing in the middle of jam-packed street begging for money while the handler squats somewhere giving a watchful eye. I don’t know how the monkey-owner relationship works. Maybe the owner beats the little monkey. Who knows? But maybe they take care of each other in the harsh streets of The Big Durian.


About landakungu (Dane Anwar)

Landakungu is the blog of Dane Anwar, a native Jakartan. She loves to travel, read comics, novels, and watch films. After spending 5 years living in Taiwan and 4 months in China, she is finally back in Indonesia, which is going to be her new base for more travels and other interestng things.
This entry was posted in Gibberish, Indonesia, Photos. Bookmark the permalink.

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