The ancient art of shadow puppetry or ‘wayang kulit’ is still very popular in Ubud, as it is everywhere else in Bali. It’s used to narrate Hindu stories and myths as well as popular folk tales in a magical, entertaining way, and is normally only seen as part of a temple ceremony.
The puppets are two-dimensional works of art made of goat’s leather, and have moveable limbs and jaws. Although only their shadows are visible during a performance, they are beautifully decorated: the leather is punched with holes to create a lace-like effect, and painted in colours that symbolise their role in the story.
The puppets come in the form of gods, kings, giants, demons and servants. Many different kinds of shadow puppets are on sale in Ubud, in shops as well as at the market. You can also visit Peliatan, the village where many of them are produced, on the outskirts of Ubud.
It’s also possible to participate in the making of wayang puppets by taking a workshop.