The word “wayang' actually is a javaness word meaning 'shadow' or 'ghost'. It is called shadow, because viewers can watch the puppets from behind the curtain, so they just see the shadow. Shadow puppets played by a puppeteer (dalang) who is also the narrator's dialogue of puppet figures. Accompanied by gamelan music played by a group of nayaga and the singer (pesinden) who always woman in traditional javaness dressed. The puppeteer performs his show on the white curtain, while the electric lights flashed behind him or oil lamps (blencong), so that the audience is on the other side of the screen will see the shadow puppets that fall into the screen. “Kulit' means 'leather' or 'skin'. 'Wayang Kulit' has a long history, it existence has been documented 800 years ago
To understand the story of wayang (play), the audience must have knowledge of puppet characters whose image appears on the screen.This Indonesian traditional arts are mainly developed in Java; Central Java, East Java and Yogyakarta. In another term, the word “wayang” or puppet originated from the word 'Ma Hyang' which means toward spiritual soul, god, or God Almighty.
In general, this art show takes the story from the Mahabharata and Ramayana manuscript but it is not limited to such standards. The puppeteer could also play using their creativity to make their own story.
Wayang Kulit is an open air performance , a temporary house had been constructed in the village square. The stage on which the puppeteer and musicians of Gamelan orchestra placed as a central so the viewer can enjoy the show easily.
If you have a plan to visit Java, just make sure to that there’s Wayang Kulit show in your list. This cultural tourism is so valuable to be missed.