Shadow puppet theatre from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand

This exhibition runs from Sat, 24th Dec 2016 to Sun, 29th Jan 2017. See all dates

This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include:

Cost: Free of Charge

A rare display of the British Museum’s collection of shadow theatre puppets from Southeast Asia.

Shadow puppet theatre is found in many societies, and puppets, which are normally carved from animal hide and painted on both sides, are placed between a light source and a white cloth screen, with audiences watching the performance from both sides.

This art form has historically been a significant part of the artistic, spiritual, social and political lives of many Southeast Asians, and has retained its appeal even in recent decades, when television, film and the internet have become increasingly available.

In shadow theatre, old and new stories are presented to audiences with puppets representing the universe from deities to demons, traders to royalty. Clowns provide humour through verbal and visual jokes and make the stories topical to local spectators.

The exhibition includes Javanese puppets from around 1800 collected by Sir Stamford Raffles – the earliest systematic collection of puppets in the world. The show also features puppets from Kelantan in Malaysia made by two innovative puppeteers in the mid-20th century, Balinese puppets gifted to Queen Elizabeth II, and a set of modern Thai shadow puppets from the 1960s and 1970s.

Ian Visited - review here.

Contact and Booking Details

More information at this website.

No need to book tickets - just turn up on the day.


The British Museum,

Great Russell Street, London, London, WC1B 3DG

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