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Balinese Wayang
Balinese Wayang


The wayang or shadow puppet is the most prominent theatrical expressions in Bali. In a wayang kulit performance, flat cut-out figures are silhouetted against a translucent, white screen, with a coconut-husk lamp as its source of light. It is mostly expressions or enactments of religious mythology blended into one with historical facts that will keep a Balinese entertained all night long.

These wayang figures are manipulated with rods by the puppeteer or dalang, who tells the story accompanied by a gamelan orchestra and occassional chanting or singing of a singer. gamelan can also accompany voices, Outside the theater, the dalang commands a high respect from his community, for he performs the job of an actor, a teacher, a historian, and often a priest. The dalang is one mechanism that succesfully passes culture and tradition from one generation to another.

While the night wayang performance is considered pure entertainment, there exists another variant that is purely religious. This religious wayang performance usually takes place in the broad day light, without the coconut-husk lamp. In place of the translucent screen, a piece of string is drawn to separate the dalang from the audience, which may not even exist. This variant may be performed prior to a ngaben or cremation ceremony.

There is a regularly scheduled performance of the wayang at Oka Kartini in Ubud every Sunday and Wednesday.


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