Please find a fascinating article on Indonesian puppetry by the The World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts here.


The Wayang (Shadow) style is a form of puppet theatre art found in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, wherein a dramatic story is told through shadows thrown by puppets and sometimes combined with human characters. The art form celebrates the Indonesian culture and artistic talent; its origins are traced to the spread of Hinduism in the medieval era and the arrival of leather-based puppet arts called Tholu bommalata from southern India.

Wayang refers to the entire dramatic show. Sometimes the leather puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Performances of shadow puppet theatre are accompanied by a gamelan orchestra in Java, and by gender wayang in Bali. The dramatic stories depict mythologies, such as episodes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana, the Mahabharata as well as local adaptations of cultural legends. Traditionally, a wayang is played out in a ritualised midnight-to-dawn show by a dalang, an artist and spiritual leader; people watch the show from both sides of the screen.


Wayang golek

Wayang golek are three-dimensional wooden rod puppets that are operated from below a wooden rod that runs through the body to the head, and by sticks connected to the hands. The construction of the puppets contributes to their versatility, expressiveness and aptitude for imitating human dance. Today, wayang golek is mainly associated with Sundanese culture of West Java. In Central Java, we see the wooden wayang also known as Wayang Menak, which originated from Kudus, Central Java.



All of the artwork pictured above can  be viewed at the Bali Culture Workshop in the Oka Kartini Compound, Jalan Raya in downtown Ubud.

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