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November 8, 2020, 09.02 PM

MADIUN, – The wayang puppets looked at the viewer with wooden eyes in artisan Joko Suwiono’s workshop in Madiun, East Java.

Known as wayang klitik or wood wayang, this arts and crafts from East Java resembles the better known wayang kulit or leather wayang of Yogyakarta and Central Java.

Made to a high standard of craftsmanship, the puppets show an intricate attention to detail and vivid colors that would not be out of place exhibited in the Wayang Museum in Jakarta’s Old Town district. They also belie their simple origins.

Making something out of nothing

“The [wood wayang] is made of excess wood, which holds no value except as firewood. I decided to make wooden handicrafts in 2018, as they are in plentiful supply,” Joko said to

Also read: The Riddle of 'Tenun Cual' from Indonesia's Bangka Belitung Province

“I have had experience in making handicrafts, so I wanted to turn the wood into a lucrative commodity. It was then that I had the idea of making wood wayang.”

Joko made his first wayang klitik out of discarded wooden fruit boxes. Much to his surprise, he found a steady market in the community.

“I decided to make the wayang from the excess wood with the help of family. I also made wayang themed souvenirs like keyrings, wall clocks and home decorations,” he recalled.

Joko Suwiono arranges his wooden wayang for customersKOMPAS.COM/MUHLIS AL ALAWI Joko Suwiono arranges his wooden wayang for customers

Also read: How Indonesian Batik Became a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage


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