From Carved Wood Puppet to Theatrical Glam Show

Wayang is a Javanese word for a theatrical performance with puppets or human dancers. When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Performances of shadow puppet or 3 dimensional puppet theatre are accompanied by a gamelan orchestra in Java, and by gender wayang in Bali.


Wayang is a generic term denoting traditional theatre in Indonesia. There is no evidence that wayang existed before the first century CE, when Hinduism and Buddhism were brought to Southeast Asia. This leads to the hypothesis that the art was imported from either India or China, both of which have a long tradition of shadow puppetry and theatre in general. Jivan Pani has argued that wayang developed from two arts of Odisha in Eastern India, the Ravana Chhaya puppet theatre and the Chhau dance. However, there very well may have been indigenous storytelling traditions that had a profound impact on the development of the traditional puppet theatre.


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