A master puppeteer at age five


Young talent: According to his father, Pyu is calm and confident whenever he performs on stage.

PETALING JAYA: While most children his age are playing with smartphones and tablets, Aqfierudzar Rizq Mohd Sulhie has chosen to spend most of his time developing his talent as a master puppeteer in the dying art of wayang kulit.

Fondly known as Pyu, the five-year-old was introduced to the world of wayang kulit at the age of three by his father Mohd Sulhie Yusuf. Pyu has not looked back since.

He even started performing with a wayang kulit group called Arjunasukma, said Mohd Sulhie.

He acknowledged that performing wayang kulit or shadow puppet play could be quite a difficult feat for a young child, but he would personally coach his son about a week before a performance.

“If there is a last-minute invitation and he cannot prepare in time, Pyu will improvise the performance of his character,” he told mStar, The Star’s Malay language portal.

Mohd Sulhie, 42, said he was proud of Pyu’s performance as a tok dalang (master puppeteer and storyteller), adding that his son was responsible and wasn’t shy when on stage.

“I’m grateful that at such a young age, Pyu has shown a deep interest in this art. If he is given a wayang kulit puppet, he will even forget about his meals,” he said.

According to Mohd Sulhie, Pyu has not only managed to make a name for himself in the local wayang kulit scene, but he has also performed in Singapore and China.

“Pyu seemed calm during his performance, even though it was his first time on an international stage,” said Mohd Sulhie, referring to his son’s performance in Singapore last November.

He said he would keep supporting Pyu’s interest in wayang kulit as he hoped his son would continue to be a good tok dalang in the future.

He also said he aimed to popularise the dying art of Kelantanese wayang kulit through Arjunasukma Academy, which he and his wife founded in 2008 in Klang.

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