Masks in Performing Arts | Wayang Wong (Indonesia)

by Second Nature on September 28, 2023


The Performance:

Characters & Roles:

The characters in Wayang Wong are usually derived from the epic Hindu tales of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, featuring gods, demigods, heroes, and demons

Hanuman is a white monkey deity from the Ramayana


Sugriva is the younger brother of one of the two monkey kings

The performers use elaborate costumes and makeup to depict various characters, with some roles involving masked characters.

Dance & Movement:

The actors perform highly stylized dances and movements to portray the characters and narrate the story.Every gesture and movement is symbolic and conveys different emotions and aspects of the story.

Music & Sound:

Gamelan, a traditional Indonesian musical ensemble typically featuring metallophones, xylophones, drums, and gongs, accompanies the performances.Singers (pesindhen) provide vocal narration and dialogues, enhancing the overall auditory experience.


    Wayang Wong is culturally significant in Indonesia as it is a medium through which moral and philosophical ideas are conveyed. It reflects the values, beliefs, and the cultural richness of Indonesian society. It is not just a form of entertainment but also serves as a medium for moral and spiritual education.


    UNESCO has recognized Wayang Wong as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, emphasizing its importance in preserving cultural heritage and traditional performing arts.

    Contemporary Wayang Wong:

    While retaining its traditional roots, Wayang Wong continues to evolve, with contemporary performances incorporating modern elements, narratives, and interpretations, allowing it to stay relevant and accessible to newer generations.


    Wayang Wong is a captivating and multi-dimensional art form, combining music, dance, drama, and visual arts to create a holistic and immersive experience. It serves as a vibrant reflection of Indonesia’s cultural diversity and a living testament to the country's rich artistic heritage.