Asia Education Foundation

Similarities and Differences: Wayang Forms

Lower Secondary Arts Unit

Studies of Asia Learning Emphases

  • Developing concepts of Asia
  • World contributions by the people of Asia

Specific Indonesia focus:

  • Examine the Javanese and Balinese forms of wayang kulit, Javanese wayang golek and Javanese wayang klitik.
  • Make a shadow puppet that reflects an understanding of wayang characterisation.

Students develop the skills to effectively search the Internet, using Boolean phrases, for websites that provide information on the different types of Indonesian puppets (wayang kulit, wayang golek and wayang klitik).

Wayang Terminology
Wayang on the Internet
Making a Wayang Kulit Puppet

Teaching and Learning Activities

Wayang Terminology

Wayang means shadow in the Javanese language.

Wayang kulit (pronounced why-young cool-it) are perforated leather puppets with movable, jointed arms found in both Java and Bali. The audience views the shadow from the other side of a screen. Wayang kulit are used to tell Indonesian versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (see the Lower Secondary English Unit The Mahabharata: An Indonesian Perspective on this website). Wayang kulit performances can last all night.

Wayang golek (pronounced why-young goh-leck) are three-dimensional wooden rod puppets dressed in traditional clothes and found in Central and West Java. They are used in performances of Hindu stories and Islamic stories of Muhammed's uncle, Amir Hamzah.

Wayang klitik (pronounced why-young klee-teak) are carved and painted two-dimensional wooden puppets with jointed arms, most popular in East Java. They are used to tell the story of a handsome prince who ruled the Javanese Madjapahit kingdom in the 14th century.

Physical characteristics of wayang characters
Halus (good characters) have fine features, almond-shaped eyes, a bowed head and long slender limbs. Kasar (bad characters) have bulbous noses, bulging eyes, lots of facial hair, coarse features and fat clumsy limbs. Halus puppets that are giants or animals may also exhibit kasar features. Red and black on the puppets do not necessarily indicate evil.

Wayang on the Internet

Students research websites to complete the Wayang Quiz Activity Sheet. A lesson on searching the Internet can be found on the Lower Secondary English Unit Newspapers: A Comparative Study on this website.

Students should develop their skills in locating websites independently. However, the following website addresses can serve as a guide.

Discuss which search engines were the most successful in providing web addresses.

Making a Wayang Kulit Puppet

This concluding activity allows students to view at close quarters the differences between the Javanese and Balinese forms of the same wayang kulitcharacter - Bima, from the Mahabharata epic - and to make their own puppets. Instructions are provided on the Wayang Quiz Activity Sheet.