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Hand Crafted Wayang Kulit Shadow Play Puppets are traditionally made from the hide of a buffalo or other animal. The rod extensions tied to the hands and body are made from buffalo horn, bamboo or sticks which are held by the puppet master (Dhalang) who sits on the ground, platform or floor behind a thin cotton screen manipulating the puppets. A light or oil burner or puppet lamp stand at the back of the puppeteer casts a shadow of the puppets on to the screen which appears quite large compared to the actual size of the puppets, giving the audience a dramatic spellbinding shadow play, made more dramatic with the addition of the music and special lighting effects.


Although these puppets are colorfully painted and intricately chased, the audience only sees the silhouette of the puppets.

This traditional theatrical art form is one of the oldest forms of theater in Indonesia, predating the Hindu Buddhist era prior to the 9th century. They are mentioned in a Javanese 12th century poem, and the word “wayang” is mentioned in an inscription written during the reign of King Airlangga dating to the 10th century. It is believed that this art form possibly originated through Indonesia’s historic relationship with the Hindu/Buddhists influence during the second half of the first millennium, transitioning into its present form which is uniquely Indonesian, but also adopted by the Balinese, Sumatrans and Malaysians.

This flat style of puppet is referred to as wayang meaning (shadow), and kulit (skin). The puppets are usually manipulated by just one puppet master. The performance is usually a noisy affair with loud Indonesian classical music played on Gamelans of various sizes ad shapes, accompanied by the clashing of cymbals, xylophones and singing. A traditional puppet show can last for several hours, and sometimes a whole night.

In Javanese myth it is believed that the Gamelan was created by Sang Hyang Guru who ruled from his palace on the Maendra mountain as a means to summons the gods with the theatrics imparting spiritual, historical and moral messages to the audience.

The theatrics played out at a Wayang Kulit puppet show was inspired by the 2000 year old Hindu stories from the Ramayana “translated means Rama’s Journey” and the Mahabharata (Sanskrit: “Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty”). Both of these epics relate to moral philosophical values, the fight between good and evil, respect, duty, love, romance and the struggles and challenges of the main characters.

After the introduction of Islam around the 12th century the performances were not only adapted and defined by the teachings of Islam, but also meant to decrease the influence of Hinduism, whilst still maintaining some of its originality.

The shadow style puppet show possibly grew out of the Islamic religious belief that God was prohibited to be shown in human form.


There are several different styles and types of Indonesian Puppet shows which which have evolved over the centuries, many unique to the area of their origin, below are just a few.

Wayan Gole

These puppets are three dimensional with wooden heads and upper body, manipulated by a wooden rods extending from a hole in the body and wearing a sarong.

Wayang Wahyu

The development of different styles of Puppet shows in Indonesia have been influenced by the different stages of development over the past Millenium, even up until 1960 when the Catholic missionary Brother Timotheus L. Wignyosubroto, in his endeavor to spread the faith developed the Wayang Wahyu puppet show whose stories are related to the Christian Bible.

Wayang Bambu

These puppets are made from Bamboo and are the rarest types of puppets in Indonesia originating in Kampung Cijahe, Curug mekar Village in the West Bogor District. They are similar to the three dimensional Wayang Golek puppets with the main difference being that they are faceless.

Wayang Kayu

Kayu is Javanese for wood, so these are wooden as are the Wayang Papak, Wayang Menak, Wayang Klithik, Wayang Timplong, Wayang Potehi and Wayang Ajen and many others.
Then there is

Wayang Orang,

with people playing the characters from the traditional stories of the Mahabharata and Ramayana, similar to the Wayang Kulit the actors wear colorful clothing, headdresses and accessories accompanied by loud traditional Indonesian music and gamelans.

Antique Indonesian Wayang Kulit Puppet


AGE: Unknown – this was an old puppet when we acquired it 40 years ago, estimated age late 19th to early 20th century but could be earlier.

This puppet shows a long life of use, art work is faded and worn in places, damage to outer section of chasing on the head and tip of the nose and a vertical crack in the leather on the lower section of the body next to the rod. (barely visible)

Body Length: 47cm Excluding Rods
RODS: Buffalo horn
PRICE: AU$270.00

Antique Indonesian Wayang Kulit Puppet
Side Two Wayang Kulit Shadow Play Hand Crafted Indonesian Puppet
Lower Section Wayang Kulit Indonesian Puppet
Wayang Kulit Hand Craved Indonesian Puppet

Vintage Indonesian Wayang Kulit Shadow Play Puppet

3K54b Contact Us

LENGTH: 40cm Excluding Rods.
AGE: Unknown (Acquired Indonesia early 1980’s)
RODS: Buffalo horn, Puppet leather
CONDITION: Very good
PRICE: AU$210.00

Vintage Indonesian Wayang Kulit Leather Puppet
Old Wayang Kulit Indonesian Puppet
Side One Indonesian Wayang Kulit Puppet
Top View Hand Crafted Indonesian Wayang Kulit Indonesian Puppet

Antique Wayang Kulit Indonesian Shadow Puppet

3K54c – Contact Us

AGE: 19th- Early 20th Century
RODS: Buffalo Horn, puppet: leather
CONDITION: Age related wear
PRICE: AU$270.00

Prabu Kresna - Antique Wayang Kulit Leather Shadow Puppet
Antique Wayang Kulit Indonesian Puppet
Prabu Kresna Antique Wayang Kulit Shadow Puppet
Side 1 Indonesian Wayang Kulit Puppet

Antique Wayang Kulit Leather Shadow Puppet referred to as Prabu kresna –  Age related wear and well used.

3K54d – Contact Us

AGE: 19th- Early 20th Century
RODS: Buffalo Horn, puppet: leather
CONDITION: Age related wear
PRICE: AU$270.00

Vintage Leather Wayang Kulit Shadow Puppet
Buffalo Horn Rods On Wayang Kulit Puppet
Side 1 Wayang Kulit Puppet
Top View Wayang Kulit Hand Crafted Puppet

Old Wayang Kulit Leather Shadow Puppet

3K54eContact Us
AGE: First half of 20th Century
RODS:  Wood
CONDITION: Age related wear
PRICE: AU$160.00

Old Wayang Kulit Leather Shadow Puppet
Indonesian Leather Shadow Puppet
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