February 20, 2010


Indonesia's Wayang is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage. Wayang is a form of theatre where puppets are used to tell epic stories such as Ramayana and Mahabharata or other stories containing moral messages. There are different forms of wayang depending on the puppets used.

Wayang kulit is the most popular one where the puppets are made of animal skin. The puppets are held behind a white cloth which is shined by a light so that the puppets' shadows are cast on it. It is these shadows that the audience actually sees.

Left: A wayang kulit puppet, Right: Wayang kulit performance

Photosource (left-right):

Another form of wayang is wayang golek where the puppets are made of wood.
And then there are shows where actual people dress up and wear masks to portray the characters which are then called wayang orang.

If you go to Indonesia, I would recommend watching a wayang kulit show. During the performance, gamelan is used as accompanying music. However, beware that real wayang shows last quite long (hours!).

If you don't get a chance to watch a wayang show, you can always buy the puppets. They are sold in many Indonesian souvenir shops, especially in Java. Recently my sister went to a wayang golek factory and bought this puppet. They make quite beautiful decorations in a room.


Matt said...

I have yet to see a performance. Yesterday we went to the annual Eugene Asian Celebration and the Indonesian Consulate General was there with a booth and they had several examples of puppets. Some of them were quite tall. Great post!

Stepy67 said...

Just wanted to say that I really like your blog! I am (hopefully) coming to teach in Indonesia in or around September and this blog has been just what I needed to see!

Fitri said...

@Matt: They're quite amazing right? There are so many characters/puppets with slightly different appearance/clothing...It's a treat for the eyes when seeing them in the souvenir shops..
@Stepy: Hi Stepy (hope I got the name right!)...thanks for the compliment! I hope you do get to come here :)

Bayu Maitra said...

Salam kenal Fitri..

Blog nya bagus yah :)

Oh iya, cuma mau sebar info. Buat yang gemara wayang, di Mal Ambassador ada toko buku yang jual komik wayang ato cerita silat. Di lantai 3.

Nice article :D

Sam Sumardi said...

Wayang Kulit, Audience watching this show from behind Dalang. it means not only see the shadow, but they also can see Panjak, Sinden, Dalang itself etc.

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