Well, recently I was rummaging through my filing cabinet looking for something, which I didn’t find, but I did find two sheets of paper on which, years and years ago, I had carefully traced several templates or patterns for constructing some Malay Shadow Puppets. I have kept templates for 2 different stories – ” The Broken Bridge”, a work of art using black and white shadow puppets of the West; and a story from the East, about the Prince and the Villain trying to win the Princess.
The shadow puppet theater is spread in several countries around the world. But Indonesia is a place where the tradition of this form of performances is still the most popular and lively, particularly in the islands of Bali and definitively in the central region of Java.
The wayang is a flat or round puppet used for shows in Java. The wayang kulit is the flat one. The puppets are manipulated behind a white screen with a back light, so the audience can see them as shadow puppets.
A wayang performance is also a great place to listen to a Gamalan orchestra which always comes along with the play.
Wayang is well integrated in Javanese society, and it is considered to be a highlight of Javanese culture.
Wayang Kulit is an ancient form of performing art and was already established in the East Javanese kingdoms one thousand years ago.
The puppets are believed to have great spiritual power, and are “brought to life” by special ceremonies performed by the dalang, the puppet master and story teller. The dalang is a man of many talents: he must have a repertoire of hundreds of stories, play the music, have a flair for showmanship, perform the necessary sacred rituals, and also know how to make the intricate, flat, leather puppets.
The function of the shadow play is to educate as well as amuse, by portraying good and evil, with good always triumphing, although evil is never destroyed. In Hindu thought, good and evil are necessary parts of the whole and must exist in equilibrium.
In Bali, shadow plays are extremely popular, with performances given during sacred temple ceremonies, private family ceremonies, and in the villages, just for fun. A typical performance can last six hours or more, often ending at daybreak. The audience, including little children, sits on the ground, enthralled, for the entire story. Although involving much horseplay and slapstick comedy in the lighthearted Balinese fashion, every aspect of the shadow play has mystical overtones, symbolism, and esoteric meanings.
I am including here copies of two story templates and information, which I have scanned from the hardcopies I found. Enjoy.
Sources of information
Above – The Broken Bridge – template for puppets
Above – The Prince & the Villain part 1 – template for puppets
Above – The Prince & the Villain part 2 – template for puppets