Performance and Court in Indonesia

A gallery installation with shadow puppets displayed behind a screen, textiles hanging on walls, and other objects on platforms in the space.

A selection of Indonesian puppets, textiles, and jewelry is now on view in the second-floor galleries of Asian art. At the center of the installation is a screen with an array of shadow puppets (wayang kulit) that were used in Java to perform scenes from the Mahabharata, an Indian epicA puppeteer would have staged all-night renditions of the tales while accompanied by a gamelan, a traditional Indonesian percussion orchestra.

The display features further highlights from the Gallery’s collection of Indo-Pacific art that help situate the puppets within the wider context of courtly life. They include a Chinese-Indonesian glove-puppet stage, a sculpture of a goddess and her consort commissioned to bless an aristocratic wedding, and various pieces of gold jewelry and ceremonial textiles. 

Browse objects in the installation.