Shadow puppet, Banyan tree

This puppet represents the ‘Pohon Beringin’ (Banyan tree) that serves as a signal for the beginning and ending of scenes as well as an item of scenery in the ‘Wayang Siam’ or Siamese drama, a form of shadow puppet theatre in Kelantan.The principal story of the ‘Wayang Siam’ is based on one of the Malay renditions of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana known as ‘Hikayat Maharaja Wana’ (Maharaja Wana’s Tale), the other being the literary ‘Hikayat Seri Rama’ (Seri Rama’s Tale). Extensions or branch stories of the Ramayana, developed locally, were also performed.‘Wayang Siam’ was mainly performed in the villages in Kelantan. Traditionally, it was performed for ritual purposes such as the fulfilment of a vow, the initiation of a student puppeteer or for the salutations to one’s teacher. The main purpose for performance today is entertainment.

Indigenous Name
wayang kulit, Pohon Beringin
20th century
Kelantan, Northeast Malay Peninsula
Object size: H76.8cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Theatre Artefacts