Wayang klitik puppet, late 1700s to early 1800s AD
Wood, pigment, gold leaf
42 (height) x 24 (width) x 2 (depth) cm
Java, Indonesia


Flat, wooden puppets from the Indonesian island of Java are called wayang klitik or wayang krucil. They are carved in low relief and painted, and they resemble Javanese shadow puppets. Wayang klitik were used to perform episodes from the legend of Damarwulan, which originated in Java. The story tells of the battles between the courts of Majapahit and Blambangan from which the hero Damarwulan emerges victorious and is consequently crowned king of Majapahit. This puppet represents a character from that story series.
Wayang klitik puppets have highly stylised forms, and conventions governing size, colour, shape of the eye, tilt of the head, and construction of the body to determine the character being portrayed. Refinement is indicated by slender figures, narrow eyes, and a downward tilt of the head. Coarse characters are large and often red with round eyes and big noses. While performing all the speaking and singing parts and also conducting the orchestra, a puppeteer would manipulate these puppets on a specially constructed, outdoor stage. Associated with royal courts that declined in the twentieth century, wayang klitik shows are no longer performed regularly.


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