Do you remember the traditional child’s toy called dakon, gasingan and wayang umbul? Those were formerly found in Javanese society, including Yogyakarta. Along with the technology advancement, however, those toys have gradually perished. They have changed into new, modern games.
Bagus Indrayana, S.Sn., M.Sn, lecturer from ISI Surakarta, said that traditional toys have to be preserved as they can become the learning media for children. The traditional toys will develop collective awareness in socialising with other chidren. They can also become the learning media in attitude and behaviour when socialising.
“Traditional toys have social and cultural functions related to child’s development into owning knowledge and skills whether individually and collectively. Collective behaviour is seen in playing activities where children communicate with each other, having fun and playing with their toys,” Bagus said when sitting his open examination of doctoral progamme in Performing Arts and Arts Studies study programme of Graduate School, Universitas Gadjah Mada on Tuesday (26/3).
In his dissertation entitled Traditional Child’s Toy in Yogyakarta: Shapes, Social and Cultural Functions, Bagus mentioned that traditional toys have a significant role in growing the freedom of creating, establishing choice of material, technique, and playing rules independently. The process of making traditional toys became the forum for transformation of experience, knowledge and skills from parents to children. “The process will encourage the children to create their own toys as well as develop their imagination, creation and skills,” he explained.
Bagus said the diverse traditional toys were created by realising philosophical and functional values that are very complex, which is related to the views, behaviour and life activities of their users.
For example, the dhakon which is made of rocks is related to the ritual that contains spiritual value, social meaning and esthetic expression of the community. This toy represents the farmer’s behaviour starting from the time when they sow the seeds in the paddy field up to the harvesting time and they store the harvests in the warehouse. “This reflects the life of people of Yogyakarta outside the palace that makes their living from farming,” he said.
Bagus added, the traditional toys need to be passed on to the young generation for them to maintain amidst the flow of modern games nowadays. One way is by hosting a traditional toy festival where the young generation can understand the inherent complex values. “Another way is through formal and non-formal education, for example by establishing a traditional toy community,” he concluded.