Wayang is a generic term denoting traditional theatre in Indonesia. Wayang Golek are wooden doll puppets that are operated from below by rods connected to the hands and a central control rod that runs through the body to the head. The simple construction of the puppets belies their versatility, expressiveness and aptitude for imitating human dance. Today, Wayang Golek is mainly associated with Sundanese culture of West Java.
Little is known for certain about the history of wayang golek, but scholars have speculated that it most likely originated in China and arrived in Java sometime in the 17th century. Some of the oldest traditions of wayang golek are from the north coast of Java. This is home to some of the oldest Muslim kingdoms in Java and it is likely the wayang golek grew in popularity through telling the wayang menak stories of Amir Hamza, the uncle of Muhammad. These stories are still widely performed.
In the 18th century the tradition moved into the mountainous region of West Java where it eventually was used to tell the epic hindu stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabarata. The main characters and places from Ramayana and Mahabharata were transposed from India to Java and given Sundanese names and characteristics. The basic story remains the same however; Rama's beautiful wife Shinta ( Sita) is kidnapped by the demon king Rawana and taken to his palace on the isle of Lanka. Rama and his brother Laksman seek the help of Hamuman , king of the monkeys, and his monkey army. Together they kill Rawana and rescue Shinta.
The main characters of the play are Rama, Shinta, Laksman, Hanuman and Rawana. Our Wayang Golek puppets are the loving couple Rama and Shinta who are reveered as the perfect couple, Rama risked his life to rescue Shinta and Shinta would rather die than be unfaithful to her husband.
Our Wayang Golek Puppets come as a pair they measure 51 cm high ( approx), they are hand carved and hand painted and their clothes are also made by hand. Each one is different and will probably be slightly different from the couple pictured. They are made for us by a family of traditional puppet makers living and working in Western Java.