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A dalang performing wayang kulit in Java, circa 1890.

The dalang is the genius


behind the entire performance. It is he who sits behind the screen and narrates the
story. With a traditional orchestra in the background to provide a resonant melody
and its conventional rhythm, the dalang modulates his voice to create suspense
thus heightening the drama. Invariably, theplay climaxes with the triumph of good
over evil.The figures of the wayang are also presentin the paintings of that time, for
example, the roof murals of the courtroom inKlungkung, Bali. They are still present
in traditional Balinese painting today. The figures are painted, flat woodcarvings (a
maximum of 5 to 15 mm thickbarely half an inch) with movable arms. The head is
solidly attached to the body.Wayang klitikcan be used to perform puppet plays
either during the day or at night. This type of wayang is relatively rare.Wayang
today is both the most ancient and most popular form of puppet theatre in the
world. Hundreds of people will stay up all night long to watch the superstar
performers, dalang, who command extravagant fees and are international
celebrities. Some of the most famous dalang in recent history are Ki Nartosabdho, Ki
Anom Suroto, KiAsep Sunandar Sunarya, Ki Sugino, and Ki Manteb Sudarsono.