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Petersfield Framing Studios
Unit 4A
Buriton Business Park
Petersfield, Hants
GU32 3NJ

I have framed Indonesian shadow puppets before but they were not as large as this pair and they were made of paper. This made them extremley fragile and they needed supporting in far more places. These puppets were of a higher quality with a solid stick from both arms and the main body of each puppet. They were also primarily made of leather. It was decided that the best way to frame these puppets would be to place them onto black mount board and use a deep gold box frame to match the tones in the puppets. Here the puppets are laid onto the black mount board and they are secured in place with thread.

As with any picture framing project, conservation was of primary concern. The idea of any conservation project is that you could in theory (and if it was ever required) return the puppets to their original state before framing. Therefore the puppets were only threaded around the strongest areas of the sticks on the puppets. No glues or tapes should ever be used.  If the Indonesian puppets were ever to be taken out of the frames the owner could simply cut the thread at the back of the mount board and the puppets could again perform their shadow dances.

Once the puppets were secured to the background they were framed using a deep gold frame. The glass was kept away from the puppets with a slip moulding the same colour as the backing board. The contrast with black on gold helps to emphasise the colourful nature of the puppets.

Gold does not always work as a frame choice but here the subject matter really suits that colour albeit a toned down version. Indonesian shadow puppets are better known as Wayang kulit in Indonesia. Incidentally the story of the puppets is an interesting one and is provided here:

There lived a king named Dasaratha of Ayodhya. He loved his three sons, Rama, Lesmana and Bharata. His rightful heir was Rama but the Queen who was not Rama’s mother interfered reminding the king that when he was dying in the battlefield, it was the Queen who nurtured and saved his life. In return, King Dasaratha would grant her wishes. The Queen wanted her son, Bharata to be king and wanted Rama to banish for 14 years. The King died. Rama honored his promise and left the kingdom. Rama and his wife Sita faced many challenges. 

The pivotal challenge in Rama’s life was when Ravana, the demon king of Longka, kidnapped Sita. Hanuman, the monkey general, helped Rama find Sita. Hanuman and Rama found their way to Ravana. Hanuman fought with Ravana’s soldier. Rama killed Ravana and saved Sita. After Rama’s exile, he and Sita went back to Ayodhya where he ruled for many years.