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HOLD Early 1900s Shadow Puppet WANARA, Monkey Warrior, Vintage Handmade Indonesian "Wayang Kulit" from Central Java & STAND

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For your consideration: Early 20th century handmade shadow puppet from Central Java.

This puppet was handmade from cured water buffalo hide which was meticulously cut and pierced by hand then hand painted with great detail on both sides. The support rods on this puppet are made of carved and carefully shaped wood. This puppet measures 23" tall with support rod. Condition is very good with minor fading which is quite normal given the age of the piece. These are from a collection of puppets that were actually used in Javanese puppet plays and are not souvenir items made for tourists therefore, some wear should be expected and also appreciated. Please view all photos and note that the final picture is a 1929 photograph "backstage" at a Javanese puppet play.

This particular puppet is a WANARA, or monkey warrior. The heroic wanaras of the Ramayana were ape-like beings with the head, arms and legs of apes but with human torsos, human emotions and human virtues.

It is interesting to note that this particular puppet is one of only two I have seen that appears to be signed with a date. The red band between legs reads "14-7-'59" presumably for the date of its creation, July 14, 1959.

I have a nice collection of these beautiful handmade puppets that I will be adding to my Etsy shop as time allows so please be sure to view my other shop listings and check back often! Thanks for looking and feel free to convo me with any questions!

Some History on Indonesian Wayang Kulit Shadow Puppets:

Wayang is an Indonesian and Malay word for theatre. When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theater, the puppet itself is referred to as Wayang. The term comes from the word "Bayang", the Javanese word for shadow or imagination, and also connotes "spirit." Kulit means skin and refers to the leather construction of the puppets which are carefully chiseled from water buffalo hide with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn or wood handles and control rods.

The handwork involved in making a wayang kulit figure that is suitable for a performance takes several weeks, with the artists working together in groups. They start from master models (typically on paper) which are traced out onto kulit (hide), providing the figures with an outline and with indications of any holes that will need to be cut. The figures are then smoothed, usually with a glass bottle, and primed. The structure is inspected and eventually the delicate designs are chiseled out of the leather. A further smoothing follows before the entire figure is delicately gilded and painted on both sides by yet another craftsman. Finally, the movable parts (upper arms, lower arms with hands and the associated sticks for manipulation) are mounted on the body as is the central staff by which it is held.

Historically, the Wayang performance consists of shadows cast on a cotton screen with an oil lamp. The Javanese puppeteer, known as the dalang, presents his shadow show from dusk to sunrise. The role of the dalang has been likened to that of the priest as in Java these puppets are thought to be the incarnation of ancestral spirits, and thus the dalang is a medium between the spirits and his audience. He manipulates the puppets, speaks all the dialogue, and conducts the gamelan, the percussion orchestra which sits behind him. The stories are drawn from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Serat Menak.

PLEASE NOTE that due to weight the base will not be included with the puppet unless specially requested by the buyer. I made the bases for these out of 100 year old salvaged 2x4's with holes drilled for the support rods. In order to cover labor and the additional shipping expense I will require an additional $15.00 for the base. If you would like the base included please send me a message prior to purchase and I will alter the item price.


The Fine Print:

In the spirit of recycling, reusing and re-purposing items, I offer only authentic vintage items. Please expect normal wear from age/use. Your happiness and positive feedback is important to me so I will carefully endeavor to describe any damage an item may have and include several photographs of each item offered. Please be certain to look over all photos and carefully read item descriptions before making a purchase and please do not hesitate to convo with any questions or concerns about the condition of a particular item.

Most items are shipped via USPS Priority Mail. Extra heavy or large items are shipped via USPS Parcel Post or UPS. I try my best to ship items within 3 days of payment. Estimated delivery time is 7 to 10 business days after payment has cleared. Please let me know in advance if you need an item to arrive sooner and I will be happy to provide express mail options.

All items will be packed with care, however stuff happens. If you are concerned about a particularly fragile item I do offer optional insurance available upon request for a fee based on the item price.

I'm happy to ship Internationally - please convo me for a quote. International rates are based on location, size and weight.

Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

HOLD Early 1900s Shadow Puppet WANARA, Monkey Warrior, Vintage Handmade Indonesian "Wayang Kulit" from Central Java & STAND


  • Vintage item from the 1950s
  • Materials: Hide, Horn, Paint, Bamboo, Wood, String, Gold Leaf
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 209 reviews
  • Favorited by: 27 people