Salvaged from the bottom of some long dead dalat’s prop box, these small, somewhat shabby rod puppets are the real thing. Repainted many times and once elaborately dressed, they were probably used by a traveling dalat or puppeteer who roamed the backblocks of Java entertaining small villages.
I have not seen any wayang golek as old as these on the internet for many years – I suspect they were all cleared out of Java decades ago, as I purchased these at a market Sydney.
These puppets may have been used to perform episodes form the epic Ramayana, but it is more likely that they performed in folk tales and simple comic or morality plays to entertain the villagers.
Left to right: An elegant nobleman or senior official dressed in once impeccable 1920s style, height 43 cm / 17 inches. A black clown in white face with the one large tooth and top knot which immediately identifies a wayang clown character, height 47 cm / 18.5 inches . A civil servant or court official in formal dress, height 42 cm /16.5 inches .
Condition: Old, battered but real–repainted and fixed many times during their long working life.