Home Bandung Wayang Golek
While the famous Javanese puppet play wayang kulit utilizes shadow, the Sundanese wayang golek is a play with three-dimensional puppets.
The puppets have wooden heads fixed on sticks which pass through the body and on which the whole puppet is either held in the hand or stuck into a banana trunk when not in play. The arms are jointed and can be moved with separate small rods. The variety of movements that a skilled puppet player can have his puppets perform is quite astounding.
Though wayang golek is found in Central Java, it is more prevalent in West Java, blending entertainment with religious and philosophical overtones. Like wayang kulit, most plots of wayang golek are loosely based on the Indian Ramayana epos; only very few use stories of local origin. The struggle between good and evil is depicted in a number of characters, each reflecting a personality type determined by characteristic eyes, color of face, nose, hair do, and shape of headdress. Puppets depicting good characters feature slender, pointed noses and slanted eyes that always politely look down; they speak in soft, gentle voices, display delicate, graceful movements, and tend to use mind over muscle in fighting. Evil characters, on the other hand, have rough features, rudely staring eyes, and hairy chins; they speak in loud shrill voices and display wild and fierce movements. Providing slapstick and commentary are the clowns. One of them is the red-faced and easily recognizable character Cepot, a cigarette often drooping from his mouth. As in Javanese puppet play, it is the puppeteer (dalang) who handles all the puppets and provides the narration and the dialogue with all the various voices. Through rhythmic and verbal clues he also directs the gamelan music players placed behind him backstage.
Wayang golek is often played as part of outdoor live entertainment for weddings, births, and circumcision ceremonies. It is also performed publicly every Saturday night from 9 p.m. until 12 midnight in the Sindang Reret restaurant at Jl. Naripan No. 7, just off Jl. Braga; admission is free for diners. Other performances are held on the first and third Saturday nights of each month in the Rumentang Siang cultural center, off Jl. A. Yani, right next to the Kosambi shopping center (admission $0.50). These plays last until the early morning and are per¬formed in the Sundanese language, making it a very local affair. Other performances are held on Sunday morning once a month at the zoo.
Wayang golek puppets are a much sought-after souvenir and come in various sizes. Sarinah, on Jl. Braga, has a nice collection, each puppet being labeled with the name and main features of the character it represents.
Workshops where you can watch the carving of such puppets-and, of course, buy them-are at Jl. Pangarang Bawah IV (south of Jl. Dalem Kaum, near Hotel Savoy Homann), on Jl. Morse (east of Jl. Braga), and near Lembang, on the the road to Mt. Tangkuban Perahu, 6.4 km from the crossroads.