Museum Folkwang
  • Javanese Shadow Theatre

  • Shadow puppets are known on the two Indonesian islands of Java and Bali as well as a few other islands. The shadow (wayang) of the puppet cut from leather (kulit) brings to life ancient, existential stories in a ›wayang kulit‹ presentation. The exact origins of ›wayang kulit‹ are not known. It is mentioned for the first time in the old Javanese poem ›Arjunawiwaha‹ from the early 11th century in which is written that everything perceived is an illusion, like the shadows in a shadow puppet theater. The stories, still part of the repertoire today, had already been recounted in stone relief on temples from Java’s Hindu-Buddhist period from the 9th century.
    Most of the historical ›wayang kulit‹ sets known today come from the 19th and early 20th century. The ›wayang‹ figures can be distinguished through various characteristics: while female figures from Solo wear a train which hangs to the back, female figures from Yogya wear a train which hangs to the front. In earlier times, ›wayang‹ was presented as part of a ceremonial ritual, for example, for the birth of a child, a wedding or inaugurating a house.
    An original shadow puppet presentation begins at about 7 in the evening and usually lasts until about 5 the next morning. A large screen is hung from a horizontal banana tree branch, in which the figures from the sets are placed, the ›evil‹ to the right and the ›noble‹ to the left (as seen from the front of the screen. The puppet master, ›dalang‹, sits behind the screen; next to him, on a wooden box, on the ca 50 figures he will need during the presentation. Behind him is the ›gamelan‹ orchestra of metallophones, gongs and other instruments. The oil lamps, ›blencong‹ hung behind the screen create the shadow of the puppet on the screen during the presentation.
    The stories (lakon) that serve as models for a ›wayang‹ presentation come from the Hindu-Buddhist context. ›Wayang‹ was, however, integrated into the Islamic religion that had established itself as the ruling belief in Java and a large part of Indonesia from the beginning of the 16th century. The core of the ›lakon‹ plot is the unification of the human with the divine, which was also the aim of the Sufist orientation of the Islam originally introduced in Java. To this extent, the Hindu-Buddhist themes do not conflict with Islamic practice.
  • Exh_Title_S: Javanese Shadow Theatre
  • Exh_Id: 509
  • Exh_Comment_S (Verantw): Archaeology, Global Art, Applied Arts
  • Exh_SpareNField01_N (Verantw ID): 185
  • Java
  • Nalagareng, undatiert

  • Shadow puppet for Wayang Kulit Theatre
    Nalagareng (Nala Gareng) is one of the jokers (panakawan) who accompany the nobles in Mahabharata, often caricaturing their behavior. Nalagareng is held to be a conceited, grotesque idiot.
  • Inv. K 810
Prabu Kresna
  • Java
  • Prabu Kresna, undatiert

  • Shadow puppet for Wayang Kulit Theatre
    Kresna is an incarnation of the God Wishnu. He appears in Mahabharata as advisor to the five noble Pandawa brothers.
  • Inv. K 780
  • Java
  • Semar, undatiert

  • Shadow puppet for Wayang Kulit Theatre
    Semar is the father of Petruk and Nalagareng and as panakawan accompanies helpfully and comically the good, together with his two sons. Semar is the grandchild of Hyang Ismaya and also his incarnation. He has enormous magical powers. Hyang Ismaya is a divine brother of Batara Guru.
  • Inv. K 831