WAYANG KULIT more  -->

The wayang kulit shadow puppets of Indonesia are such an important cultural and artistic legacy that UNESCO designated the tradition as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Wayang performances date back to at least 930 A.D., and were probably part of active community life for many generations before that date. The most popular stories depicted are excerpts from the Mahabarata and the Ramayana, epic poems composed in India thousands of years ago.

Wayang kulit are made from stiff thick water buffalo leather. Each puppet is hand made, with the delicate opwenwork punched through with sharp knives and chisels. The support rods are made from buffalo horn, beautifully shaped, heated and bent into sweeping arcs and tied to the puppet with soft cotton thread.

The wayang kulit collection at the Simon Fraser Univeristy Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology was commissioned and created between 1870 and 1920. The donor inherited the collection, and brought it to Canada in the early 1960s. He gave the collection to SFU in 1996, when it was featured un the university's 40th anniversary celebrations.  With this site, the wayang are now publicly and globally available. You are invited to marvel at their intricate beauty, to learn the teachings of the wayang about good and evil, respect, duty, friendship, and loyalty by viewing the videos associated with the collection. In doing so, you will gain an aprreciation for the powerful traditions and beautiful art styles brought to Canada by new Canadians from Indonesia.

Learn more about the Gallery Exhibit.

Learn more about the shadow puppets via videos

Explore our image gallery of the collection.