VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Wayang Kulit
FA.2007.18.1
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Wayang kulit of Central Java is a centuries old art form that is still very much alive today. This is an exceptional, contemporary example of wayang kulit. The details are extraordinary. The structure and each perforated hole were cut by hand. In fact, the perforations that are responsible for the incredible and detailed shadows that are cast in performances require several punches of a tatah (a chisel-like carving tool) to create just one hole. There are hundreds of these carved details. The painting detail is equally enthralling. Fine lines and tiny, dots finish the piece, leaving almost no negative space. Such process may be typical in this artform, however, this artist's execution for this object is what makes this particular example a masterpiece. Moreover, the Hindu deity is not usually seen on this traditional kayon form, and therefore it is an interesting melding of new and old traditions. This piece took the artist 5 months to create. This artist is a very talented and well-known maker of shadow puppets, and his work is in high demand by dhalang from around the Solo area.

History of the Object
In Java researching the performance and art of wayang kulit for an exhibition, the curator worked with many talented dhalang ("puppeteers") in Central Java. She was introduced to this artist, Ki Sukasdi, who is also a trained dhalang himself. This piece was on display at the Museum of International Folk Art in the exhibit, "Dancing Shadows, Epic Tales: Wayang Kulit of Indonesia (2009)."

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Type
Performance Art 
Materials
Water buffalo hide, natural adhesive, paint, water buffalo horn, gold leaf 
Measurements
117x52.5 cm 
Creator name
Ki Sukasdi 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Sukoharjo, Java, Indonesia 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 21th century ~ AD 21th century 
Creation date
21st Century; 2007 
Function
Wayang kulit are "shadow puppets" and traditionally used in performances of classical Javanese literature, most commonly derived from the Hindu epics, ramayana and Mahabharata. This particular piece is a kayon, also known as a gunungan; it is a tree of life or cosmic mountain. The kayon functions to begin and end performances, mark scene divisions, and also to represent physical elements (such as a mountain, forest, palace, or other element), natural elements (such as fire water), severe weather, extreme emotions, and more. 
Acquisition
Acquired in 2007 as a field purchase directly from the artist. 
Copyright
Museum of International Folk Art, IFAF Collection (FA.2007.18.1). 
Acknowledgements
Published in: "Inside the Puppet Box: A Performance Collection of Wayang Kulit at the Museum of International Folk Art," by Felicia Katz-Harris. Museum of International Folk Art in Conjunction with University of Washington Press (2012). 
Owner
International Folk Art Foundation 
Museum
Museum of International Folk Art 
Credit line
Museum of International Folk Art, IFAF Collection. 

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