Wayang Kulit: The Shadow Play of Kelantan

 // Malaysia

In this ancient form of puppet theatre, the shadows of intricately carved leather puppets are projected onto a screen. The shadow plays are based on the Ramayana, an age-old Hindu epic that has become a treasured folk tale across Malaysia. Wayang Kulit Siam, the adaptation of this spectacle practiced in the Muslim villages of the Kelantan region, is considered a cultural treasure in Malaysia.

Behind the illuminated screen, a Tok Dalang (puppet master) manipulates the puppets, narrates the story using a minimum of 40 voices, and leads a traditional folk musical ensemble that provides the score and drives the rhythm of this unique theatrical experience. The shadow play orchestra consists of seven to ten members playing a variety of hand drums, gongs, cymbals, and wind instruments.

Led by experts from the Malaysian cultural preservation organization PUSAKA, this renowned shadow puppet troupe features master performers and musicians and will make their U.S. premiere for Caravanserai.

Wayang Kulit: The Shadow Play of Kelantan
Puppet master at work
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Wayang Kulit