Do you like puppet shows? If yes, then you’ll love this story! And if not, then this new type of puppet drama might intrigue you. Well, ‘new’ doesn’t mean recent, but it’s a different puppetry concept.

Here’s introducing Wayang, the puppet drama based on shadows created by puppets and lights! Shadow puppetry originated from southern India but quickly became famous in Java, Indonesia with the spread of Hinduism. In such theatre plays, episodes from the Hindu epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are depicted.

Shadow play is an old tradition and it has a long history in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia. It has been an ancient art and a living folk tradition in China, India, Iran, and Nepal. It is also known in Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Greece, Germany, France, and the United States.

In the Javanese language, wayang means shadow or imagination. The beautifully painted puppets (usually made of leather) are held against a translucent screen with the help of wooden rods. Then as soon as the light is flashed from behind the puppets, their shadows get cast on the screen. Remember the shadow play of the Qi Xi Festival shown in The Karate Kid movie (2010)? Wayang looks like that.

This show is enjoyable from every angle. Some people like to sit behind the puppeteer and see the puppets directly and some like to watch it from the other side. The good characters of the play stay on the right, while the evil ones are placed on the left side.

And since Wayang plays are so enriching, they are watched majorly on special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays. How amazing would it be to watch shadow puppetry on your birthday!