Shadow puppet, Kayon

This puppet represents the 'Kayon', also referred to as the 'Gunungan'. It symbolises the Tree of Life or the Cosmic Mountain and serves a variety of dramatic functions in the Javanese 'wayang kulit' or leather shadow puppet theatre tradition. For instance it is used by the 'dalang' or master puppeteer to indicate the start or end of the performance when placed in the middle of the screen.The vast majority of the 'wayang' plays performed are drawn from the two great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as well as local stories of Javanese origin. 'Wayang kulit' is considered the highest of the Javanese performing arts. Performed in the royal courts of Java as early as the ninth century, this tradition continues to be treasured as one of the 'pusaka' or sacred heirlooms of the court. 'Wayang kulit' is traditionally performed on ritual days and religious ceremonies. It has also been adapted more recently for television and public education campaigns.

Indigenous Name
wayang kulit- gunungan
20th century
Java, Indonesia
Object size: 97.4 x 42.7 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Theatre Artefacts

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