Theater and Puppets



Wayang Klitik

Wayang Kulit

Wayang Golek

Devotional Items


Folk Art

Utilitarian Items

Original Designs

Leather Shadow Puppets of Indonesia


Wayang Kulit Durmagati

Wayang Kulit Mare in village style


Wayang Kulit Dursasana

Wayang Kulit Batara Guru


Anoman from Delanggu Central Java

Wayang Kulit Banyumasan Jaran Horse


Demon Wayang Kulit

Naked Pink Uncircumcised Demon


Anak Bajang Good Demon

Wayang Kulit Celeng Boar


Dutch Army Java Shadow Puppet

Indostan's Wayang kulit

Wayang kulit is the term for buffalo hide shadow puppets in Java and Bali. In Bali the performances of wayang kulit are most often done as part of a larger ceremony and performances last around 2 to 3 hours. In Java, the Islamic holy man Sunan Kalijaga developed wayang kulit extensively, becoming more a 'teaching medium', and now in Central and East Java wayang kulit is modern show-biz entertainment. A top dalang puppet master in Java currently can charge over ten thousand pounds for a performance. Most weeks one can see an all night wayang kulit performance on private television channels--with a lot of adverts as testimony to the popularity of this ancient art form.

Contrary to popular assumptions modern technology has not pushed aside wayang kulit shows but rather modernity has made wayang kulit performances even more popular. It is common now for a gamelan orchestra to have a set of rock'n'roll drums or a brass section or an electric guitar. A show might have a colored light show, or even cameos by celebrity actors and comedians popping up beside the screen and speaking to the puppets like on The Muppet Show.

Before the forced introduction of genetically modified rice and industrialized agriculture in the 1970's, the traditional rice cycle of Java's culture and traditions required nearly every village in Java having a family or two of professional dalang. These dalang would perform the sacred annual harvest show as part of the bersih desa village cleansing ceremony; these became less and less practical with the new rhythm of rice planting and now this ceremony has nearly been abandoned in Java. These village dalang have been forced into extinction by the change in the village life. Since the 1970's audio-taped performances of famous dalang became extremely popular amongst the rural population as a tape of a good dalang sounds much better than a bad dalang but is much cheaper to hire. Thus in the 1970's and 1980's many peasant puppet sets got sold off to antique dealers and nowadays finding sets of village wayang kulit is a lot harder than ordering ones from top wayang makers.

An authentic set of wayang kulit typically has puppets of different ages in it. As dalang were most often sons or daughters of other dalang, children would inherit part of a set which they would then add to as the orders for performances would demand. The process would repeat itself again and again through the generations. Indostan is fortunate to have obtained two peasant wayang kulit sets with around 200 puppets in each set. The sets are complete sets with which a village dalang could begin a performing career with but do not have all the puppets needed for all the repertoires of the traditional shows.

Thierry Durieux collected the two wayang kulit sets from two village dalang families who were not interested in continuing the art of wayang kulit. One set was from a village dalang in Delanggu, East Java, while the other set was from Tasikmalaya. The set from Tasikmalaya is a village set of the cruder Banyumasan style puppets. The Banyumasan set from a more remote village and the oldest puppets in the set are rather finer than the newer ones; the ages range from the early 20th century through to the 1980's. The Delanggu set is rather more classical and more complete with the newer puppets being made with as much skill and care as the older ones. The oldest puppets in the Delanggu set would have been made around the beginning of the 20th century and the youngest ones were made not long before Thierry collected them in the early 1990's.

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DISCLAIMER: The materials and the make dates of Asian antiques are rarely explicit on the piece. All our descriptions of use, materials, and the dates of our antiques are approximates based on our experience and knowledge. Please contact us if you have other suggestions concerning the nature and the dates of the antiques we sell. Any unsatisfactory item, if returned within 30 days, will be fully refunded excluding shipping costs.