Wayang theater is an important element of Javanese and Balinese culture. The traditional wayang puppets are individually hand made from buffalo hide by a Puppet Master. The original stories are based upon Hindu Mythology, especially the Mahabharata. The stories have been expanded and modified to reflect unique aspects of local culture. In Java, while the Hindu stories have been retained, the stories have also been modified to reflect Islamic teachings. Java began converting to Islam in the 16th century. The puppets provide an opportunity to compare traditional costumes, jewelry and design motifs.
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