means drama, which has distinct
Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese
variants. Its dance style probably
originated in ancient unmasked
dances whose modern descendants
include the deeply revered bedaja,
a court dance for nine women who
move in unison in graceful, abstract
patterns. The wayang topeng, or
masked dance, is usually a solo
character interpretation drawn
from Hindu legends. Village customs
and popular and include other dance
are also various forms of puppet
shows. The "Wayang kulit"
(shadow puppet theater) of
java is performed with leather
puppets held by the "dalang"
(puppeteer), who narrates the story
of one of the famous episodes of
the Hindu epics, the Mahabharata
or the Ramayana.
is performed against a white screen
while a lantern in the background
casts the shadows of the characters
on the screen, visible from the
other side where the spectators
are seated. The "Wayang Golek"
(Wooden puppets) of West java is
based on the same concept.