Gilt and Leather Puppets Performing Shadow Play in Theater and Musical Ensemble (Gamelan?) in Front, Java, Indonesia


This photograph of a puppet theater in Java, Indonesia is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. This photograph appeared in Java and the East Indies; Java, Sumatra, Celebes, the Moluccas, New Guinea, Borneo, and the Malay peninsula (1923), part of Carpenter's World Travels series, with the caption: “In the wayang shadows of gilt and leather puppets thrown on a screen enact some old story of the Hindu tradition. At intervals there are dances to music from the weird-sounding instruments of the native orchestra.”

Last updated: September 29, 2014