Abstract

Abstract:

The world's largest collection of Indonesian puppets (wayang), assembled between 1973 and 2011 by Swiss collector Walter Angst and now in the Yale University Art Gallery, is a product of a zoological passion for preserving the diversity of an art form, the ongoing modernization of puppetry in Indonesia, and the active involvement of Angst's agents in Indonesia—including both dealers and some of Indonesia's most famous puppeteers. Drawing on Marshall Sahlins' concept of "structure of the conjuncture," this article looks at the Dr. Walter Angst and Sir Henry Angest Collection of Indonesian Puppets (as the Angst collection is now known) as both structure and event. In a period of increasing standardization due to the influences of media, education, and globalization, Angst endeavored to capture the variety of traditional puppet forms in western Indonesia and salvage endangered and extinct wayang arts through his collecting of representative sets of figures. His collection defines the different styles and substyles of puppetry practiced in the twentieth century, and also maps out his personal relationships with Indonesian practitioners—who were often both his employees and personal tutors in the art. While Angst expressed little interest in wayang's experimental offshoots, the collection nonetheless demonstrates how wayang has constantly responded to social change over two centuries.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2109
Print ISSN
0742-5457
Pages
pp. 300-328
Launched on MUSE
2018-09-14
Open Access
No
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