Esplanade Presents


Kebatinan vs Keyakinan: Kuda Kepang

Iswandiarjo bin Wismodiarjo (Singapore)

1 May 2023, Mon, 2pm


(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Recital Studio

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Brought to the city-state by immigrants from Java, Indonesia in the late 1940s, kuda lumping, better known today as kuda kepang, is lived and performed through its descendants, despite criticism by the Islamic authorities for its perceived unruliness, leading to social misconduct and misdemeanor. Kuda kepang stems from archaic animistic beliefs, and is practised regularly in Indonesia as part of celebrations such as weddings and cleansing ceremonies, in which villagers seek spiritual protection to ensure good harvests and prosperity.


Typically, a kuda kepang performance features acts such as eating, walking on glass or embers, and its dancer-warriors are "whipped" by a pawang (shaman) and his assistants as part of the ritual. The performers, however, seemingly feel no pain, as they are in a state of trance—their bodies occupied by a spirit invoked by the pawang in an earlier part of the ritual.


In this session, leader of the group Kesenian Tedja Timur that performs kuda kepang, Iswandiarjo bin Wismodiarjo guides attendees in an investigation of the cultural and historical context of these practices, to examine possible associations with the supernatural, and if these were simply forms of traditional entertainment.


• Patrons who have registered will have priority entry to the venue.

• Patrons who have registered must arrive 5 mins before the start of the event to guarantee your admission.

• Patrons who have registered but are not at the venue 5 mins before the start will have their seats released to walk-in patrons on a first-come, first-served basis.

• Limited seats are available at the door.

• Seating will be assigned by Esplanade’s ushers.

Admission Age:
10 and above
Language: English
Things to Note:
Accessibility Advisory: We provide a range of access services and relaxed performances for patrons with access needs. For wheelchair-accessible seats, please call Esplanade Customer Experience at 6828 8377 for assistance. Concessions for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and up to one accompanying companion are available. | View our accessibility guide
Artist Information

Iswandiarjo bin Wismodiarjo

Since 2001, Iswandiarjo bin Wismodiarjo has led the Kesenian Tedja Timur, a group established in 1948 that keeps the ancient practice of kuda kepang and other Javanese dances alive by performing and educating the public, as well as training youth in the art form. Iswandiarjo was elected President of Kuda Kepang Singapura in 2008 and has served as Vice President of the Javanese Association of Singapore's Performing Arts sector since 2015. Iswandiarjo is a practitioner and critic of Javanese Folk Performing Arts. In Singapore, he participates actively in the scene and holds various positions: Music Director for Qasyidah group Ikhwatul Iman, musician in Orkestra Melayu Singapura, section leader in the Pangrawit Anyar Gamelan Ensemble, and senior instructor and performer in Sri Warisan Gemelan and wayang kulit section.

Date & Time

1 May 2023, Mon


Esplanade Recital Studio

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