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Created: May 1, 2004
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Index of Topics on Site Backup of Art-Pacific: Indonesian Puppets
By Carolyn Leigh
SOURCE: Art-Pacific: Guide to Artifacts
Copyright: Photographs, text and maps copyright Carolyn Leigh, 1996-2003. All rights reserved. Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2003
Included here under Fair Use Doctrine for teaching purposes. Source URL.
Guide to Artifacts: Indonesian Puppets Art-Pacific. Art-Pacific: Guide to Artifacts Indonesian Puppets

Wayang golek male puppet, his hat has a red-bearded face carved on the back: 16k
Figure 1: Wayang golek rod puppet from Java dressed in a silk jacket with beaded epaulets and gold braid.

Wayang literally means shadow, but refers to all types of puppet theater. Java has three types of puppets.

  • Wayang kulit: leather shadow puppets perform Indonesian versions of the Indian Hindu epics.
  • Wayang golek: wooden rod puppets perform the Hindu cycles and also an Islamic Arabian adventure cycle.
  • Wayang klitik: flat wooden puppets perform the adventures of Javanese Majapahit Empire heros.
  • Also wayang beber, an earlier, related form where the storyteller unrolled a scroll of painted scenes.

(Wayang kulit puppet: 17k)
Figure 2: Dorsono, a wayang kulit shadow puppet from Java.

Other Indonesian puppets:

  • Bali: The Balinese use shadow puppets that are more naturalistic in style than the Javanese ones. Baron landong are large comic puppets worn by humans. They are temple puppets and only appear occasionally.
  • Lombok: Shadow puppets perform Islamic stories.
  • North Sumatra: Large Si Galegale articulated puppets dance as substitute mourners at funerals of childless Toba Batak people.
  • Puppet-like figures include Torajan effigies of the dead, Tau-Tau, in Sulawesi and a Javanese child's play that uses a puppet-like manikin, Nini Towong.

    (Flat wooden female wayang klitik puppet: 15k)
    Figure 3: Wayang klitik puppet from Java.

    The puppet master, the dalang, manipulates his set of 100 to 500 shadow puppets, or 65 to 70 rod puppets, during a performance that often lasts all night.

    Next: Wayang Kulit Wayang Golek | The Puppet Master and the Play | Wayang Cycles | Links, Books

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, May 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.