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wayang, n.

Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈwɑːjaŋ/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈwɑˌjɑŋ/
Forms:  1600s– wayang, 1800s– wajang, 1800s– wayang-wayang (plural). (Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from Dutch. Partly a borrowing from Javanese. Etymons: Dutch wajang; Javanese wayang.
Etymology: < (i) Dutch wajang (1670 as wayang   in the passage translated in quot. 1671),
and its etymon (ii) Javanese wayang traditional theatre, a puppet used in the performances.
In form wayang-wayang   after the Javanese plural form.
The form wajang   reflects a former transliteration of the Javanese word, based on Dutch orthography.

  In Indonesia (esp. Java) and Malaysia: a theatrical performance of mythological events employing puppets or human dancers; spec. = wayang kulit n.

1671   J. Ogilby tr. O. Dapper et al. Atlas Chinensis 257   Van Hoorn..return'd, being on his Way going to Singlamong's prime Factor, who had invited him to a Feast and Wayang, or Play [Du. Wayang, of spel], in Person to send away the Vlaerdings Boat.
1808   Asiatick Researches 10 iii. 181   Scenic exhibitions termed ‘Wayang-wayang’, were till lately, very common in the peninsula of Malayu.
1853   Jrnl. Indian Archipel. & Eastern Asia 7 271   A very large collection of Wayang figures, cut out of hide.
1881   Encycl. Brit. XIII. 604/2   The wayangs or puppet plays, in which grotesque figures of gilded leather are moved by the performer, who recites the appropriate speeches, and as occasion demands plays the part of chorus.
1910   Handbk. Ethnogr. Coll. Brit. Mus. 102   The first two forms of Wayang are shadow-plays, the puppets being cut from leather.
1934   H. W. Ponder Java Pageant iv. 49   The stories have been immortalized..by the ‘Wayang’, or native theatre, which for countless generations has been so much a part of Javanese life.
1973   D. May Laughter in Djakarta iv. 71   Tonight he was going..to see a wayang, an old Hindu-Javanese story acted and danced by a famous company from central Java.
2009   Independent 28 Sept. 25/4   A few years ago, it [sc. Indonesia] persuaded Unesco to acknowledge wayang..as distinctly Indonesian.

1671—2009(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, December 2015; most recently modified version published online December 2021).