Indonesia is one of the countries in Asia with a rich culture when it comes to puppetry. Java is considered the center of the Indonesian struggle for independence during the 1930s and 1940s. It is also considered one of the most cultural heritage sites that have been rebuilt. It became an edge for Java to acknowledge their island and put it on the map.
Wayang (meaning shadow) is the most known and old puppetry art form in Indonesia. The Dalang, or the puppet master, manipulates the Wayang, serves as the storyteller, gives voice to all the puppets, and also leads the Gamelan, the traditional musical ensemble.
There are different types of Wayang:
- Wayang Kulit – flat, leather shadow puppet
- Wayang Golek – three-dimensional, wooden rod puppet
- Wayang Klitik – flat wooden puppet
- Wayang Beber – long, painted paper scroll
Stories portrayed in Wayang are from the Hindu epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and cultural legends of Indonesia. Aside from being a source for entertainment, Wayang tradition paves its way as another form of passing information, used for teaching, and philosophical understanding.
Today, puppetry in Indonesia is made more creative by meeting contemporary Indonesia’s traditional characters and adding humor to the lines to make the stories more entertaining and educational for the kids.