Art and Culture

Javanese Puppet Art (Wayang Kulit)

Wayang kulit (shadowgraph) is one of the traditional arts that grows and develops in Javanese society. More than just a show, wayang kulit was used as a medium for reflection towards the spiritual spirits of the gods. That said, “wayang” comes from the word “ma Hyang”, which means towards the spirituality of the power. But, there are also people who say “puppets” come from show techniques that rely on shadows on the screen.

Wayang kulit is believed to be the embryo of various types of puppets that exist today. This type of puppet is made from a sheet of dried buffalo leather. In order for the puppet motion to be dynamic, on the elbows the body is connected using screws made of buffalo horn.

Wayang kulit is played directly by the narrator called the puppeteer. Masterminds cannot be played by just anyone. In addition to having to be good at playing puppets, the puppeteer must also know various stories of puppet epics such as Mahabrata and Ramayana. The puppeteer was considered a noble profession, because people who are masterminds are usually people who are respected, knowledgeable, and polite.

While playing puppets, the puppeteer is accompanied by music sourced from gamelan instruments. Between the sounds of the gamelan, Javanese poems sung by the female pesinden are generally female. As a traditional art that has magical value, offerings or offerings are a mandatory element in every puppet show.

Offerings in the form of free-range chicken, coffee, rice cone, and other crops, and not forgetting the smoke from burning incense is always present in every puppet performance. But, because many consider these offerings to be redundant, lately the offerings in puppet shows are also intended for the audience in the form of eating together.

Wayang kulit is a wealth of archipelago born from the indigenous culture of Indonesian people who love art. Each part of the puppet performance has strong philosophical symbols and meanings. Especially in terms of content, puppet stories always teach noble character, mutual love and respect, while sometimes tucked into social criticism and funny roles through the goro-goro scene. It is not wrong if UNESCO recognizes it as a legacy of Indonesia’s valuable cultural wealth.