The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
2007/44/7 Puppet (Wayang), parchment / bone, maker unknown, Indonesia, c. 1967-1971. Click to enlarge.

Wayang puppet from Indonesia

This wayang kulit shadow puppet is part of an interesting collection of objects that was acquired over numerous years by the donor during his tenure as Trade Commissioner with the Australian Trade Commission. The donor, accompanied by his wife, lived in Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, India and China from the late 1950s through to the mid 1980s.

Historically, Australia has shared a strong emotional and economic bond with Great Britain. From the 1970s until the present, the emphasis has been on …


Object No.


Object Statement

Puppet (Wayang), parchment / bone, maker unknown, Indonesia, c. 1967-1971

Physical Description

Puppet, Wayang, parchment, maker unknown, Indonesia, [1967-1971]

Flat shadow puppet cut from parchment, with long arms jointed with bone pins at the shoulders and elbows.




The wayang is a flat or round puppet used for shadow puppet shows in Java. The wayang kulit is the flat puppet and is made with buffalo or goat leather. A black light behind a white screen is used to project a shadow image (wayang kulit) of the puppet. Wayang is a Javanese word meaning 'shadow' or 'ghost'. A wayang kulit puppet is a stylised representation of the human form.

Buffalo or goat hide is most commonly used in the making of the wayang puppet. The hide is scraped thin to ensure an even surface then cured to prevent warping of the parchment. High quality puppets have been made from parchment that has been cured for up to 10 years.

Joints are secured using bone, metal, or bamboo studs and then fitted with horn or bamboo sticks for the dalang (puppeteer) to move. (Note: no sticks are attached to this wayang kulit.)



The wayang kulit shadow puppet was acquired by the donor outside Jakarta, probably Jogjakarta, during the donor's second stay in Indonesia.

The donor worked for the Australian Trade Commission and had a number of postings in Asia including Indonesia in the late 1950s to 1960 and 1967-1971; Japan 1972-1974; Singapore 1975-1977; India end of 1977 to 1981 and China 1982-1985. He was accompanied by his wife.


Credit Line

Gift of Peter and Patricia Horne, 2007

Acquisition Date

12 April 2007

Cite this Object


Wayang puppet from Indonesia 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 1 December 2022, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Wayang puppet from Indonesia |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=1 December 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}