These three wooden wayang klitek or flat shadow puppets are an old form of this genre, carved in light wood rather than punched leather. (The leather puppets are associated with East Java and the cultural centres of Yogyakarta and Surakarta where they are still made, while the flat wooden form probably originated outside of these cultural centres.These three were probably created by rural Dalats or puppet masters as they are quite naive in style and extremely old (circa 1930. Two are carved in profile with the two arms attached ftn and back on the same side and attached through the same hole, a technique also used in early leather puppets. Heights 46 - 48 cm / 18 - 19 inches, including handles.
The three characters portrayed are, left to right:
One of Hanumans monkey generals who came to the aid of the Pandaya Brothers, the heroes of the Ramayana, during a long war to rescue their stolen queen. Hanuman was the king fo the monkeys and his support was crucial in the final victory.
A royal servant - the clowns of the puppet theatre, idiot savants who had a licence of stpidity to mock their superiors, much to the delight of the audience.
The lady with her breast exposed in Limbuk. She and her mother Cangik are handmaidens to the royal ladies - more than servants, they were actually confidants to the ladies they served. Limbuk can be extremely crude and kept the audience laughing.
Provenance: These three wayang were once in the private collection of Senta Taft Henry, the doyenne of Sydney tribal dealers, who died last year. She loved Indonesian puppets and had a large personal collection. I know she paid a visit to Indonesia around 1965 and might have collected them then, but they were obviously old when she got them.