Wayang behind a window

Indoeuropa: Wayang – the Shadow Puppet

I always get a bit excited when I find bits of Indonesia in Europe – a continent so far away, in distance and in culture. I guess when you’re far away from home (though that term is highly arguable for me), a bit of familiarity is always welcome and heartwarming.

So I’m starting a new series about random Indonesian tidbits that I find in Europe, titled Indoeuropa (what do you think of the name? huh? huh?).

This time is Wayang, or what is often known as the shadow puppet.

javanese shadow puppets

Javanese shadow puppets – Paris

I found this plaque in Disneyland Paris. At the time it was late in the day and the exhibition was actually closed (about history of animation or something). But we sneaked in and checked things out quickly. The puppets were dark as the spot light was off. But I managed to take a snap of this nearby plaque:

Javanese Shadow Puppets

Indonesia, the 17th Century.
In the 1600s shadow puppet shows were all the rage across Asia and featured animated figures such as this one.

And to top up, I also spotted these wayang behind a window in Amsterdam, just before we arrived in Paris.

Wayang behind a window

Wayang behind a window – Amsterdam

Interesting facts: the word wayang is used in Malaysia for “cinema” and “show” – which is not far off from the original Javanese word that means “theatre”. In Singapore, it is also used for someone that pretends to do something, just for “show”, a lot of the times referring to authority figures. e.g. “Wah the gahment do this and that ah. Wayang only.”