Home Indonesian Culture The Art of Wayang Kulit, Globally Famous Puppet Show From Indonesia

The Art of Wayang Kulit, Globally Famous Puppet Show From Indonesia

The Art of Wayang Kulit. It is a famous cultural heritages from Indonesia. The term “Wayang” is the Indonesian word for puppet. Wayang Kulit is one the two type of puppet uses in the puppet theatre. They are the Javanese shadow puppet theater.  Wayang is one of the cultural art works that stands out among many other cultural works in Indonesia. 

Let’s get to know more of indonesian native culture heritage, Wayang Kulit~

1.   History

Wayang Kulit is an art that has been around for at least 1,000 years. Looking at its origin, some say it is originally from Java. This ancient storytelling art have developed for ten centuries in the royal palaces of Java and Bali, and has now spread to other islands such as Lombok, Madura, Sumatra, and Kalimantan.

2.   Characteristic

Wayang Kulit are made from dried buffalo leather sheets and carefully handcrafted into variant in size, shape and style. Characterized by costumes, facial features and articulated body parts. 

Wayang Kulit performed in an open-air theaters, renowned for its elaborate puppets and complex musical styles from Gamelan music, with complicated plots and an ancient form of storytelling originated from Indonesian island of Java. Wayang Kulit usually featured on social occasions, such as weddings, opening ceremony for events, parties and festivals.

3.   Performance of Wayang Kulit

These puppets are controlled by master puppeteers call “Dalang” in Indonesia through the slender sticks attached to the puppets. Dalang cannot be just anyone. In addition to being good at playing puppets, the puppeteer also has to know a variety of wayang epics such as Mahabrata and Ramayana. Dalang is a noble profession, because the people who become Dalang are usually people who are knowledgeable, and virtuous manners.

While playing puppets, Dalang is accompanies by music sources from gamelan instruments. In between the sounds of the gamelan, Javanese poems are sang by the Pesinden, Java version of opera singer who are generally women. As a traditional art that has magical value, offerings become a mandatory element in every Wayang Kulit show.

4.   Influence of Wayang Kulit

In 2003, UNESCO has officially recognized the shadow puppet show as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity originating from Indonesia. These days, Wayang Kulit is globally famous by society in the world. From foreign puppeteers, cultural exchange students all have shown interest to see and even learn how to play the puppet in Indonesia, not only Asians but also European such as Russia, Holland, Moskow, Norway and even America. For that reasons, till today Indonesian embassies and consulates in major cities of the world often hold Wayang Kulit show to introduce the traditional culture of native Indonesia to community around the world.

Amazing right? Not only Wayang Kulit, Indonesia has many unique native cultural heritage, get to know more of them!

Thank You for Reading~