Mar 8, 2009
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Opening Reception for Dancing Shadows, Epic Tales: Wayang Kulit of Indonesia
Museum of International Folk Art
Wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance of Indonesia is among the oldest and greatest story telling traditions in the world and is said to lie at the heart of Indonesian culture. Wayang kulit are flat, leather puppets elaborately decorated and perforated, casting intricate and dramatic shadows when performed. This is a highly refined art form that commemorates important life cycle ceremonies (such as circumcisions, weddings, and funerals) or social events (such as political elections or community, religious, and/or national holidays). Performances are usually based on classical literature such as the Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana with contemporary issues incorporated into particular scenes. In fact, shadow puppet performance has been a popular mode of communication for ethical instruction, news broadcasting, and political campaigning. Performances are always accompanied by a gamelan orchestra and traditionally begin in the evening and last until dawn. Featuring the collection of the Museum of International Folk Art, this exhibition will introduce the distinct form and performance of wayang kulit specific to Central Java. Various aspects of this performance art will be explored, including gamelan music, the artistic techniques involved in making shadow puppets, the performance of dalang (puppeteers), regional variations, and the cultural context of wayang kulit.