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Surya, the sun deity
Place of Origin: Indonesia, Tegal, Central Java
Date: perhaps 1800-1900
Object Name: wayang golek puppet
Materials: Wood, cloth and mixed media
Dimensions: H. 25 1/2 in x W. 8 in, H. 65 cm x W. 20.3 cm
Credit Line: From The Mimi and John Herbert Collection
Department: Southeast Asian Art
Collection: Theatrical Arts
Object Number: F2000.85.16
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 11

Description

Label:

Types of Puppets

A Javanese puppet master's collection generally consists of fifty to ninety puppets. In West Java, where plays based on the Hindu epics are most popular, the collections tend to be larger and the characters more individualized. In the traditions of the north coast, where collections tend to be smaller, puppets are often used to portray more than one character.

Sets of puppets include nobles, jesters, gods, demons, and servants. Although identifying specific characters can at times be difficult, most puppets can be categorized as representing characters with either refined or coarse personalities. The extremely stylized features of some puppets are clues to their personalities. The most refined have white faces, bowed heads, and narrow eyes and noses. The upright heads of the cruder figures have red faces, round eyes, and protruding noses.

The puppet master (dalang) manipulates each character in a distinctive way. The movements of nobles are slow and smooth and their voices soft, attributes showing their refinement. In contrast the rough characters are given wide gestures and harsh voices. The movements of the dalang are also closely linked to the syncopation of the tuned percussion (gamelan) orchestra.

Traditionally most of the puppets that are not in use during a performance are lined up on either side of the stage. The central sticks of the puppets are planted in long rows in the trunk of a banana tree laid horizontally at the edge of the stage. The puppets on the dalang's right side are the heroes of the stories, while those on the left are the villains.


Label:

Types of Puppets

A Javanese puppet master's collection generally consists of fifty to ninety puppets. In West Java, where plays based on the Hindu epics are most popular, the collections tend to be larger and the characters more individualized. In the traditions of the north coast, where collections tend to be smaller, puppets are often used to portray more than one character.

Sets of puppets include nobles, jesters, gods, demons, and servants. Although identifying specific characters can at times be difficult, most puppets can be categorized as representing characters with either refined or coarse personalities. The extremely stylized features of some puppets are clues to their personalities. The most refined have white faces, bowed heads, and narrow eyes and noses. The upright heads of the cruder figures have red faces, round eyes, and protruding noses.

The puppet master (dalang) manipulates each character in a distinctive way. The movements of nobles are slow and smooth and their voices soft, attributes showing their refinement. In contrast the rough characters are given wide gestures and harsh voices. The movements of the dalang are also closely linked to the syncopation of the tuned percussion (gamelan) orchestra.

Traditionally most of the puppets that are not in use during a performance are lined up on either side of the stage. The central sticks of the puppets are planted in long rows in the trunk of a banana tree laid horizontally at the edge of the stage. The puppets on the dalang's right side are the heroes of the stories, while those on the left are the villains.