Cultural Performances in Yogyakarta

Cultural Performances in Yogyakarta

Cultural Performances in Yogyakarta

In the original form of a shadow play, Wayang appears to be a Javanese creation that contains several aspects of Javanese culture. Wayang, or leather puppet shadow play, existed long before the arrival of Hindu culture.

During the neolithic period, wayang performances first consisted of religious ceremonies at night concerning worship HYANG. This performance depicted the heroism of the ancestor taken from mythology. Nowadays, wayang kulit is presented in a different form compared to wayang puppet in the olden time. In the olden times, Wayang resembles the faces of the ancestors.

Javanese are fond of wayang stories, for they contain lessons on virtues that can guide them to behave properly in society. Based on stories and the way of presenting, there are about forty kinds of WAYANG in Indonesia. Some of them are Wayang Beber, Wayang Klitik, Wayang Krucil and Wayang Tengul or Wayang Golek. The presentation of a wayang puppet shadow play is always accompanied by gamelan music. The puppets are made of a piece of polished and gilded hide of water buffalo or crow. Shadow puppet performances are very famous in the world, and many foreigners study the art of puppetry.

Cultural Performances in Yogyakarta


In Javanese, “wong” means human. So, Wayang wong means Wayang represented by humans. The stories are the same as the stories of wayang kulit, but the function of the “Dalang,” or the narrator, is more than just narrating the setting; he is also a stage director.



Wayang golek, or wooden puppets, are in the form of three dimension dolls. The stories are taken from Menak’s stories. People enjoy seeing performances where the movement of the puppets resembles human beings. The puppets are dressed in colorful costumes to beautify their appearances.

wayang tengul


These puppets are made of thin wood. The name is derived from the noise “Klitik-klitik” which is produced when they are played. The epic story of Damarwulan is used in the performance.

wayang klitik


One of the dances that is very famous in the world is Ramayana Ballet. Although there are many other Ramayana ballets in many other places, the one in Yogyakarta is the specific one because the story of Ramayana or the tale of Prince Rama is depicted on the wall of Prambanan temple in Yogyakarta. The open-air stage to the west of the main temple of Prambanan presents Ramayana ballet in four episodes in the moonlight between May and October.

One can also enjoy the full condensed story of Ramayana at Trimurti Theatre, a modern indoor theatre to the south of the open-air theatre, at Prambanan every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

For those who want to enjoy Ramayana Ballet in the city, some theaters on Jalan Brigjen Katamso and some hotels present the performance regularly.

ramayana ballet
Photo via kratonpedia


Langen Mondro Wanoro is a combination of some special branches of dances, songs, dramas, and gamelan music. This is one of the traditional art forms of Yogyakarta’s specialties. The main characteristic of Langen Mondro Wanoro is that the dancers dance in the squatting position and carry on dialogues in a singing tone called
“Macapat”. The story is taken from the story of Ramayana with the main part of the appearance of “Wanoro” or the ape.

Langen Mandra Wanara
Photo via


This traditional play is presented in the Javanese language, the original language of Yogyakarta. The main feature is the dialogue between the characters preceded by a Javanese song.
The stories are varied such as chronicles, historical events, heroic sagas, fairy tales, or fantasy stories. The costumes match the setting of the story, just as the makeup. Ketoprak is accompanied by gamelan music which is guided by ” Keprak” a slit of the wooden signal box with a mallet.



The traditional Javanese music called Gamelan is played by a group of people called ‘Wiyogo”. The music is played to accompany a female singer called “Waranggono and a male singer called “Wiraswara’ This music is also called “Uyon-uyon” which consist of various tunes. When the set of gamelan instruments are played without singers it is
called “Soran”.



The dancers in Jatilan use a flat hobby horses made of pleated bamboo. The dance is always presented outdoor accompanied by special music using part of gamelan special music using parts of gamelan like a “Saron”, a “Kendang” dan small “Gong”

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