If we know wayang kulit (leather puppet) we will know that Wayang orang has many so many things in common with the wayang kulit. The story of both derived from the same book the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. And even the movements of wayang orang has so many similarity to wayang kulit. It because the actors imitate the leather puppets in costume and the movement. Wayang orang is also accompanied by gamelan orchestra.
At the first Wayang orang has been only shown to palace ceremonies. Large spectacles were staged, for example, in honour of the sultan’s coronation, or for weddings and birthdays. The performances had a deep symbolic meaning, and the hour of the spectacle and its plots were determined by the fact that the Sultan of Yogyakarta was identified with the Hindu god Vishnu.
Wayang orang in old time began early in the morning, when the sun, identified with Vishnu, appeared in the sky. The sultan sat on a holy throne, always facing east in the middle of the famous Golden Hall under the highest point of its pyramidical roof, symbolising the axis of the universe. The performance took place on a lower level in a smaller hall annexed to the magnificent Golden Hall. And due to the rule of Keraton, nobody was allowed to stand higher than the sultan. The Sultan or the King is the highest, and had absolute power.
The performances now days is very different. In past time, it could last several days, and the audience included not only members of the court but invited Dutch colonial representatives. Now, the duration of the performance could be very short 1 – 4 hours, depend on the needs and audiences.