Saturday, August 25, 2007

Can You Identify These Puppets?

Earlier this summer, I chanced upon a garage sale only a block from home and found these two shadow puppets. After inquiring as to their price I was given an offer I could not refuse. They are part of the tradition of Wayang Kulit, the shadow puppet theatre of Indonesia. I had first seen puppets of this nature at the Smithsonian's Arthur G. Sackler Gallery of Asian Art in Washington, D.C., likely when I was on break from college. While the soon-to-be former owner was able to tell me that these puppets were of Javanese origin (as opposed to the Balinese puppets I had seen at the Sackler) he could only identify them as figures from the heroic epic, the Mahãbhãrata.

So, dear reader, can you help me identify them? It is clear that the red faced fellow is a prince or noble of some sort, and that the blue fellow is of lower status, but is he a lower-ranked prince? A servant? Perhaps one of the comical figures of Wayong known as punokawan who, from their description, seem analogous to the zanni characters I often play when I perform commedia dell'arte?

Click here for the full photo set. My apologies as they are not my best photographs.

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