Wayang Kulit

The ancient art of shadow play or Wayang Kulit is a unique combination of ritual, lesson and entertainment. Lacy shadow images are projected on a taunt linen screen, backed by an oil lamp or a light bulb. The Dalang or shadow artist manipulates the figures, which are carved out of leather, to bring the shadows to life.

He will narrate the story accompanied by a gamelan orchestra and occasional chanting or singing. The Dalang juggles many roles - actor, teacher, historian, and often, a priest.

These performances are part of temple celebrations or religious events to bless the occasion by inviting ancestral spirits to visit the temple. If it is of a religious nature, the wayang performance will take place during the day. Instead of the screen, only a piece of string is used to separate the Dalang from the audience. The stories played are commonly based on the Mahabarata and Ramayana. Some of these shadow puppets have mobile joints, which make the play even more entertaining.

Generous offerings are presented before, during, and after a performance, which usually take three to four hours. Plays normally begin some time between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.