Puppet shadow show in Java, Indonesia download/print

April 5th, 2012

Wayang (shadow puppets) from central Java, a scene from 'Irawan's Wedding'

(photo by Haa900)


Indonesia is a country in south-east Asia. It has more than 17,000 islands. One of the big islands is called Java. More than 135,000,000 people live on that island.

Java has a rich culture. One of the most famous things in Java is “Wayang.” It means “shadow puppet theater.”

Hand Puppet

A puppet is a doll that a person uses to tell a story. In Java's puppet theater, the puppet is made of leather and it is flat. The people that come to see the show are on one side of a screen and the flat puppets are on the other side. The people only see shadows, they don't see the puppets. A person controls the flat puppet to make a shadow on the other side of the screen. When he moves the puppet, he also tells a story. When he is telling the story, there is a band playing music from Java.

We spoke to Jlitheng Suparman from Java. He does Wayang shows 5 or 6 times a month. He told us that there are two kinds of stories, traditional and modern. The modern Wayang story is about people's life and problems in Java today. The traditional Wayang story is usually from Mahabharata or Ramayana – two very old stories from ancient India. About 300 people come to see each show.


Watch the video to see Jlitheng's show and listen to the beautiful music. If you have something interesting in you country that you do, send us an email and we'll share it with the world.


In Class Questions

Write complete answers.


1. Where is Indonesia?

2. How many islands are there in Indonesia?

3. How many people live on Java island?

4. What is Java's culture like?

5. What is Wayang?

6. What is a puppet?

7. In Java, what is a puppet made of?

8. Is it flat or 3D?

9. Do people see the puppet?

10. What do they see?

11. Where is Jlitheng from?

12. How many Wayang shows does he have each month?

13. How many types of Wayang stories are there?

14. What is the modern Wayang story about?

15. What is the traditional Wayang story about?

16. How many people come to see each show?




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