Wayang kulit is one of the most important theatre traditions of Southeast Asia
Wayang has been part of Java for more than a thousand years.
Background image: Balitung inscription, year 907
Stories used in wayang originate in India (most notably the Mahabharata), but have been transformed over centuries in Java.
Image credit: Gunawan Kartapranata
Network analysis of wayang kulit stories
Figure 1. Network visualization of correlations between wayang kulit characters at the scene level.
- We built a digital repository of storylines from an authoritative list (Purwadi, 2000)
- We constructed a weighted, undirected co-occurence network of characters at the adegan (scene) level
- Characters as nodes, edge between two characters means they appear together in at least one scene
- Edge weight indicates the number of scenes in which both characters appear
The network at first glance
Figure 2. Log-log plot of stories per character in the wayang network. The solid lines represent the actual distribution and the dashed line the theoretical power-law distributions.
Ubiquitous characteristics of real-life social networks (Carrington, Scott, and Wasserman 2005; Knoke and Yang 2008):
- High heterogeneity
- Low clustering coefficient (0.863)
- Low average shortest path (0.86)
Finding #1. Although the percentage of Javanese and Indian characters is comparable, Javanese characters have disproportionately lower degrees.
|Percentage||Average Weighted Degree
Table 1. Comparison of Indian and Javanese characters
Comparison Javanese and Indian characters
Figure 3. The different characters according to their weighted degree. The x axis is in an exponential scale (factor = 0.3). Black circles are Javanese, white are Indian and gray are Javanese Punokawan.
Finding #2. Characters with lower degrees are interchangeable in performance, high degree characters are not.
Figure 4. The different characters according to their weighted degree. The x axis is in an exponential scale (factor = 0.3). Black circles are those where puppet interchange is permissible and white circles are those where it is not.
- We hope to contribute a Southeast Asian case study to the growing area of network analysis of drama.
- We hope to show how network analysis can contribute to the study of wayang kulit.
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