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The Making of Wayang Golek Puppets

Photographer: Adi Weda

 

The Wayang Golek folk art puppet theater is a popular art form with a long tradition in Indonesia and one of the most famous forms of puppet theater in the world.

 

The painted wooden Wayang Golek puppets are used for theater productions of Hindu epics such as Rama-Sita and Mahabarata that are particularly popular in towns and villages of West Java. The puppets are operated from below with small rods connected to their hands by a ‘dalang,’ a puppet master who also speaks their lines and performs to the music of a traditional Sundanese gamelan orchestra.

 

The process of making Wayang Golek puppets starts with a piece of wood that is carved, sanded, painted with enamel colors and finally clothed. A puppet can be completed within an average of three to six days, depending on its size. The prize of the puppets also depends on its size as well as the execution of details and colors, with an avarage piece sold for about 40 to 50 euros. The puppets are often sold as souvenirs in West Java. One of the most known Wayang Golek puppet makers in Indonesia is Enday Media who have their workshop in Bogor.

 

Nowadays, there are many puppet masters in Indonesia still putting on shows but in the younger generation dalangs are harder to find. Wayang Golek performances are presented on holidays or celebrations in communities such as circumcisions or weddings.