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Three-dimensional male puppet: large head (part b) fits into body with apron and skirt (part a), and a control rod (part c) with a long shaft 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. The figure's wooden head displays an elaborate gold and black painted headdress of the "shrimp's tongue" style, with gehung supit orang sweeping back and over to touch the top of the head. It is decorated with nine hair curls reaching the siyung jawi, protruding below the Garuda Mungkur with its short utah-utah. A long sumping stretches back from the decorated ear with its small hair curl. A diadem is located above the forehead. The face is cream-coloured with small slit eyes, a thin black moustache and small teeth; the head is bent forward. Red arm ornaments at wrists and biceps, and the fingers extend from each hand at a right angle to the wrists. Torso and arms have remains of gold paint. The figure wears a grey and dark blue-black apron interwoven with blue metallic thread and decorated with silver, red and purple sequins on the chest and collar. The skirt is off-white cotton.

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, which are to be distinguished from the earlier and more sacred wayang kulit shadow plays puppets or other forms, 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. This puppet, Satria Gondrong, is a noble knight who serves the Pandawas in their perpetual conflict against the evil Kurawas. Their struggle, derived largely from the Mahabharata cycle, is central to the wayang tradition and the most commonly performed. Warrior characters are admired for their prowess and courage, but also for their piety which is of great significance to the mythos.

Cultural Context

Theatrical performance.

Iconographic Meaning

Traits are characteristic of a male noble warrior. Its alus (noble) nature is portrayed by a cream-coloured face, fine features (small straight nose, thin moustache and slit-shaped eyes), reverently tilted head, and elaborate headdress, bearing a long-tongued Garuda Mungkur (mythic bird). These and other traits symbolize a character of high rank, spiritual modesty, loyalty, and selflessness. The specific role of the puppet is shown clearly by its particularly long hair: its name is Satria Gondrong, which literally means "knight with long hair".

Item History

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