Performing Street Monkeys: Jakarta’s Traditional Topeng Monyet

Topeng Monyet in a cage

Masked Monkey or “Topeng Monyet” is a traditional play or performance in Indonesian villages involving performing monkeys with their handlers and usually finishing with a snake act or two. The handlers would travel around from village to village with their moneys, perhaps on foot or bicycle. Local children would rush over for the show much as Punch and Judy shows used to in Europe in the last century.

Sadly, in Jakarta, village life has disappeared and these days, many of these monkeys are kept in cages and rented out to low income people to use for begging in the streets at traffic lights or outside busy restaurants for a few coins.  They generally use inhumane training methods and keep them on chains.

Topeng Monyet (1)
Topeng Monyet Handler and his bicycle

What's in the cage ?

It's a snake
It’s a snake
Jakarta's traditional topeng monyet or performing street monkeys (2)

Jakarta's traditional topeng monyet or performing street monkeys (3)

Jakarta's traditional topeng monyet or performing street monkeys (1)

How to protect and or report abusers of these poor monkeys Jakarta Animal Aid Network JAAN  http://jakartaanimalaid.com/

Jakarta Post Article Much-abused macaques may soon face extinction

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About Pak Liam

Living, teaching and traveling in Asia.
This entry was posted in Indonesia, Traditional Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Performing Street Monkeys: Jakarta’s Traditional Topeng Monyet

  1. onestreetshy says:

    As one of your many blog admirers, I’ve nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog” award. Visit me at onestreetshy.com for details. Acceptance involves a bit of work, but please know you’re appreciated for your thoughts and creativity. Have a wonderful day!

  2. I know it’s a culture thing and you have to accept sometimes that other countries are very different (which is part of the experience of wanting to travel)….but that last shot says it all with the expression on that monkey’s face – there has to be a better way for the world’s less privileged people’s to earn enough money to live, and this surely shouldn’t be one of them.

    • Pak Liam says:

      JAAN is spending time and money to adopt these monkeys, they buy them from the handlers and rehabilitate and release them. That and also making it culturally unacceptable to enjoy this shows anymore, more and more Indonesians realise this.

  3. Well, there’s certainly no reason why animals should be subjected to such abuse and indignity.
    There was a similar situation in India with the Indian sloth bears who’ve been used as a means for income over centuries, but things have turned around and we’re all glad.
    Here’s a lil something: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZni9Kx9Jfw

  4. narhvalur says:

    A top post, hope this practise will end….

  5. narhvalur says:

    That was a good news….

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