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Java’s Shadow Puppetry

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1 Java’s Shadow Puppetry
Wayang Kulit Java’s Shadow Puppetry


3 Wayang is a Javanese word meaning "shadow" or "ghost" and is a theatrical performance of living actors (wayang orang), three dimensional puppets (wayang golek) or shadow images projected before a backlit screen (wayang kulit). The wayang kulit use two-dimensional puppets chiseled by hand of buffalo or goat parchment; like paper dolls, but with arms that swivel.

4 Wayang Orang (living actors)
brief example

5 Wayang Golek: Three dimensional puppets

6 Wayang kulit Central Java: probably one of the oldest continuous traditions of storytelling in the world, and certainly among the most highly developed. Wayang is well integrated in Javanese society, and it is considered to be a highlight of Javanese culture.

7 The Stage The screen is a very wide sheet of linen up to eighteen feet across and about four or five feet tall. Only the center of the screen is actually used for action.


9 Dalang is an expert story teller, actor, singer, and character manipulator.
The Dalang must enter the area from a particular direction at just the right time.

10 Dalang The dalang manipulates the puppets, sings and taps out signals to the orchestra. He also speaks the parts for all characters; he must be able to render the shy sweetness in the voice of a princess, the spiteful whine of a lackey and the righteous but controlled anger of a noble hero.


12 Demands of the job... Not everyone can be a dalang. A dalang is a most extraordinary man. First of all, he is a public entertainer. He must: amuse a great number of people be physically strong and healthy to stand the strain be seated cross-legged for nine successive hours

13 He may not have a wink of sleep or get up from his seat until six o'clock the next morning He must: strike the kechrek (rattle) with his right foot almost incessantly handle the puppets with both hands, imitate their different voices, tell jokes at the right times, and sing every now and then In addition, he controls the musicians without anyone among the audience ever noticing it.


15 Puppets made of hide Indonesian shadow characters (wayang kulit) are made of rawhide. Kulit means skin, usually from the hide of an oxen or bull. Other materials in use around the world include, goatskin, cardboard, and plastics.

16 Making a puppet



19 When? Wayang is often performed to celebrate weddings and births.
Play is accompanied by a full gamelan. Performances start at 8 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. Originally men watched from the dalang’s side and women from the audience side.

20 Dalang in the center Bad puppets on his left Good puppets on his right

21 Near the end of the show.. Three dimensional wooden puppets (wayang golek) may appear near the end of the show to symbolize the return to reality from the shadow world.

22 The stories are usually based on the epic stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the show is only a small part of the whole epic. In Indonesia, people are familiar with the different characters appearing in the stories, which can be recognized by the size, shape, color and angle of their eyes and nose and the way they walk, talk, sing, dance and fight.

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