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ayang is a traditional form of entertainment in Southeast Asia using shadow puppets. The word wayang originally meant the raised platform where a helmsman on a ship sat while steering. In Indonesia, it later meant shadow play. Prior to each performance the audience brings up offerings and the the puppeteer, the dalang, invokes spirits to bless his effort and to assure harmony and benefit for the audience from the performance. Then the dalang sits on a raised platform within a village square behind a sheet which is placed over a vertical frame. A lamp is placed near the dalang that shines on leather (wayang kulit) or wooden (wayang golek) puppets. The audience sits on the ground level on the other side of the screen to view and listen to the performance. 
There is a wooden box in front of the dalang filled with painted puppets of characters, gods, and demons from which he chooses the characters that will appear in his performance. There are puppet weapons, buildings, horses, elephants, and carriages. Incense burns during the performances to remind people that this can still be considered a religious ceremony. The dalang is given food, clothes, and other gifts as payment following the performance. The dalang is usually trained by his father, and the performance is based on particular oral or written traditions. A skilled dalang is able to impersonate all the characters of his story by changing his voice. Music accompaniment is provided by a gamelan orchestra. The musicians are all very familiar with the individual myths or tales that the dalang is likely to include. They are directed by the dalang's hand movements and other cues. The dalang knows the story intimately. The dalang always maintains the integrity of the epic plot but he also has abundant opportunity to improvise and to insert comments about current events in his traditional narration.

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