Photo: Strike a pose.

Wayang Golek Workshop

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You’ve probably seen the ubiquitous Indonesian wayang kulit, shadow puppets, but in West Java the traditional Sundanese form of puppet theatre utilises three dimensional wooden rod puppets known as wayang golek.

As with the wayang kulit, shows are usually performed by one dalang (puppet master) based on the Hindu epic tales, the Ramayana and Mahabarata. The dalang not only manipulates the puppets, but breathes life into them employing a range of emotive voices, often with several characters on the stage at once. This form of entertainment is usually performed at wedding or circumcision parties and performances can last several hours.

Meet Pak Dese. Photo taken in or around Wayang Golek Workshop, Bogor, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Meet Pak Dese. Photo: Sally Arnold

The stories are familiar and known to the audience, but a couple of “clown” characters routinely ad lib adding humour or political comment. The puppets are made in small home workshops where traditional craftsmen hand carve, paint and dress the puppets, but as with many traditional skills, this is a dying art as the shows are performed less and less due to the high cost of staging a show. Nowadays, these small works of art are more likely to be bought by collectors than made for actual performances.

Wayang golek make unique handcrafted souvenirs, but even if you don’t particular care to own one, it’s interesting to visit the workshops and see the mastery that goes into producing them. We visited two workshops in Bogor, the home of Pak Dase, and Media Art and ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Wayang Golek Workshop
Desa Lebak Kantin, north of the Botanical Gardens

Location map for Wayang Golek Workshop

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