This is a wonderful Indonesian Wayang Kulit shadow puppet. I believe it is made of animal hide (Kulit means skin, and refers to the leather construction of the puppets), which has been carefully hand-cut and hand-painted, including with gold for the torso and the arms. The back side is painted in the same manner as the front, and on both sides the puppet is attached to what I believe are bamboo sticks, painted black, one of which runs down the center of the body, and the others of which are attached to the wrists, allowing for control of the arms, which are jointed at the shoulders and elbows. I just love the colorful patterning of the skirt, the cut out beads of the necklace, and that face!!! This puppet would be great framed, or hung directly on the wall where it might be easily taken down and put into action!
I am not certain the age of this puppet, but presume it dates from the first half of the 20th century. I purchased it from the estate sale of an artist, architect and avid collector who had a great collection of puppets and masks. It measures approximately 17” tall x 6” wide (without arms extended) and about 1/4” deep. There is some loss of the gold paint and a bit of curling to the leather, but it is overall in very good vintage condition.