Who didn’t play, as a child, with the shadows of their own hands to create animals on the wall? Balinese shadow play summons childhood memories, uses simple and poetic images made of light and shadow and is enjoyable for just this reason, a lighthearted idea still capable of recalling marvels of the past. Even without understanding the local language, watching a performance of a shadow play is a unique experience which comes to life in front of and behind the curtain upon which the silhouettes of the characters are cast. In fact, it’s the tone of voice, modulated in various ways for the various characters by the dalang, the “puppeteer”, the whirlwind of action and the live music which highlights essential passages and makes the story accessible to all. The scene unravels with a clear distinction between Good and Evil, borrowing from traditional tales and epic poems, with moral and religious teachings, but also irony to lighten things up and capture the public. The true soul of the show is the dalang who can move up to 12 marionettes simultaneously, giving each a distinct character, laughing and singing while one or two assistants pass the other characters to the dalang and a small orchestra plays under lamplight, all creating a stunning illusion of reality. A fundamental and fascinating way of approaching the local culture.
Yadnya Museum is one place that must be visited to explore various traditions of Balinese life. This museum is an invaluable source of insight about the intricacies of rituals carried out by the Balinese people.