Indonesia’s exceptionally significant intellectual heritage, developed over centuries, has been woven into diverse oral traditions. In this archipelago a welter of peoples, languages and styles of expression have been juxtaposed and blended. History and experience have long been fashioned into recorded texts and oral performance, giving shape to local wisdom and passing knowledge from one generation to the next.
Because the nature of oral performance involves unique and evanescent expression, its continuity can only be assured through living practitioners. However, the past several decades of rapid social change in Indonesia have involved drastic uprooting of scattered ethnic groups. This has resulted in the ritual and social grounding of performance traditions being severely weakened and, as the performers of oral epic and ritual song become fewer, their collective knowledge is lost.
While Lontar does not have the financial resources needed to document all of Indonesia’s oral traditions, Foundation personnel feel strongly that an attempt must be made to build a visual record of these performances.
Oral/Performance traditions that Lontar has thus far documented are listed below. Their region of origin is in parenthesis.