Adidas arouses indonesians’ ire for attributing wayang kulit to Malaysian culture

Adidas has come under heavy criticism from social media users over a new shoe design based on the Javanese “wayang kulit”, a traditional form of shadow play that originated in Indonesia.

Sneaker backlash: The sportswear maker has been charged with cultural appropriation after Adidas Singapore shared an image of wayang kulit-inspired sneakers on Instagram and hinted that the art form originated in Malaysia, reported Coconut.

  • The sneakers in question were designed by Malaysian artist Jaemy Choong as part of the Ultra Boost DNA City Pack collection., a collaboration between Adidas and six artists from South East Asia.

  • Launched on November 11, the sneakers in the collection were designed to represent Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, according to South China Morning Post.

  • The backlash stemmed from the original Adidas Singapore caption, which read: “The design is about paying homage to Wayang Kulit, an important part of Malaysia’s cultural identity and heritage by merging elements of Wayang Kulit with a palette. of modern colors, in an “old encounter” – new approach to UltraBOOST DNA.

  • While Malaysia has its own version of shadow play, also known as ‘wayang kulit’, Choong’s design seems to be more inspired by that of Indonesian culture.

  • The video accompanying Choong’s design also shows recognizable elements of the Javanese “wayang kulit”.

Adidas’s apologies: In addition to editing its controversial caption, Adidas Singapore shared a separate apology via Instagram Stories that the artist and brand didn’t mean the art form originated in Malaysia.

  • “Although wayang kulit is an important part of Malaysia’s cultural heritage, we should have highlighted its Indonesian origins in our article. We sincerely apologize for any unintentional breach [sic] this may have been taken and has now changed our post, ”the statement read.

  • The updated caption now reads: “Hailing from Indonesia, Wayang Kulit inspired other parts of Southeast Asia. The #UltraBOOST DNA City Pack design pays homage to the art form by merging elements of Wayang Kulit with a modern color palette, in an “old and new” approach to UltraBOOST DNA. “

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed “wayang kulit” (flat leather shadow puppet) and wayang klitik or golèk (the three-dimensional wooden puppet) on its “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” back to 2003.

“For 10 centuries, the wayang flourished in the royal courts of Java and Bali as well as in rural areas. Wayang has spread to other islands (Lombok, Madura, Sumatra and Borneo) where various local performance styles and musical accompaniments have developed ”, according to UNESCO.

Featured Image Via Adidas SG

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