Item Records

This page shows all the information we have about this item. Both the institution that physically holds this item, and RRN members have contributed the knowledge on this page. You’re looking at the item record provided by the holding institution. If you scroll further down the page, you’ll see the information from RRN members, and can share your own knowledge too.

The RRN processes the information it receives from each institution to make it more readable and easier to search. If you’re doing in-depth research on this item, be sure to take a look at the Data Source tab to see the information exactly as it was provided by the institution.

These records are easy to share because each has a unique web address. You can copy and paste the location from your browser’s address bar into an email, word document, or chat message to share this item with others.

  • Data
  • Data Source

This information was automatically generated from data provided by MOA: University of British Columbia. It has been standardized to aid in finding and grouping information within the RRN. Accuracy and meaning should be verified from the Data Source tab.


Three-dimensional male humanoid puppet: large head (part b) fits into body with skirt (part a), and a control rod (part c) with a long shaft that passes through the body and fits into the neck of the figure's head. The body has jointed arms, each with a long controlling rod attached. Red face, bulging eyes with green irises, black moustache, beard and sideburns, blunt protruding nose, white and gold upper teeth slightly protruding. Green and white striped turban, gold sumping, white Garuda Mungkur with short red tongue. Black curly hair decorated with gold appearing from back of headdress. Gold neck. Head detachable and joined to body by controlling rod. Pink rounded torso; swelling breasts; blue circles around breasts and navel. Breasts covered by black velvet yoke with appliqued seed beads; velvet worn and some beads missing. Yoke attached to chest and back with nails. Pink arms articulated at shoulder and elbow by string. Green and blue upper arm, and blue and red wrist ornaments. Hands at right angles to arms with fingers curled; attached by string to controlling wands. Blue, green, orange and yellow plaid skirt.

History Of Use

Javanese puppetry as an art form probably developed by the 11th century. The three-dimensional wooden wayang golek puppets of western Java appeared during the 16th century. Originally the plays depicted Javanese mythology, but after the Indian conquest of Java the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, were incorporated into the cycles, which comprise about 200 plays. An individual or group hires a dalang (puppet-master) to celebrate important occasions. The performances often last all night and are generally presented in three acts, with vocal and instrumental accompaniment. The individual plays vary widely in detail but usually involve conflict between good and evil. They serve a moral and religious purpose, and more recently, one of political commentary. Each puppet's character is represented by its appearance and placement onstage; protagonists with strong elements of good are placed to the right, antagonists of violent or evil nature to the left. The ogress, Sarpakanka, is found in the Ramayana epic, in which the exiled Prince Rama and his half-brother Lakshmana meet the ogress in the forest. She attempts to seduce Lakshmana who cuts off her ear in disgust. Rama later allies himself with Sagriwa, the king of the white monkeys, whose general, Hanuman, kills Sarpakanka.

Cultural Context

Theatrical performance.

Iconographic Meaning

Red face, protruding eyes and blunt nose, rounded torso and covered breasts are all characteristics of the hermaphroditic ogress, Sarpakanka. The red face indicates violent nature, and protruding eyes and nose are coarse traits and generally considered evil. Significance of green eyes is unclear; however, the trait is certainly very negative.

Item History

With an account, you can ask other users a question about this item. Request an Account

With an account, you can submit information about this item and have it visible to all users and institutions on the RRN. Request an Account

Similar Items