Wayang Java offers information about Javanese wayang kulit puppets, as used in the traditional puppetry of the island of Java, Indonesia. Many characters are taken from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the two Indian epics upon which many Javanese wayang stories are based.
Wayang Java is created and maintained by Rachel Hand (doing the technical stuff) and Sujarwo Joko Prehatin (writing about wayang puppets), based on an original idea from Charles. As a wayang fan but a complete novice, Rachel was struggling to remember the names of all the different puppets. Flicking through books or other websites about wayang, it took a long time to find the one she was looking for. Rachel wanted a way to find the name of a puppet from its physical appearance alone. Charles popped up with a great idea – building a website that would do just that. A few months later, Rachel drafted in Jarwo, a young dhalang or wayang puppeteer who already knew the names of all the puppets. He was learning English so working on this English language project also benefitted him. To start with, Rachel photographed the puppets. She was given permission by Bambang Siswanto to use images of his wayang puppets for this project. Then Jarwo started writing the puppets’ names and information about each one, while Rachel was building the website using WordPress.org. And lo and behold, wayangjava.com was born. We hope you like it.
We are posting about one wayang puppet every week, so subscribe if you want a weekly wayang heading your way. As the number of posts grows, more and more wayang puppets will become searchable. Our multiple tag search function enables users to search for a specific puppet from its visible physical features alone. For example, searching for white face, and then small eyes, and then male, will bring you to all the male puppets with white faces and small eyes. As you narrow down your search, using more tags, you should be able to find the puppet you are looking for. We envisage this function to be useful for anyone who has not memorised all the wayang puppets. Perhaps you have a puppet at home, have watched a wayang performance, or are sitting at a show now with your smartphone or laptop.
If you want to know more about the specific puppets that we photographed for this project, please write us a comment below the relevant post. We would appreciate it if you request permission from us before copying these images.
Please let us know how we can improve this site or what other features you’d like to see. Post a comment below.