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Three-dimensional male humanoid figure (part a); large head (part b) and jointed arms attached to controlling rods. There is a single controlling rod that is pointed (part c). Pink face positioned slightly downwards, bulging white eyes with red irises cast forward. Large curved nose, open red lips and exposed white teeth. Large moustache, beard, hair, and facial details in black. Large black curl (gelung supit urang) with Garuda in yellow and white, long sumping in gold, red, and white and five large hair curls. Gold neck and torso; arms with red and green ornaments at wrist and bicep. Hands held flat, bent back at wrist. Black chest covering with yellow trim, beads and sequins. Red apron with red waistband, brown trim, and sequins and beads. Batik skirt with green and brown on beige.

History Of Use

Javanese puppetry as an art form probably developed by the 11th century. 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. A dalang (puppet master) performs the plays to celebrate important occasions, usually in three acts, with vocal and instrumental accompaniment. Typically they serve a moral and religious purpose, and more recently, one of political commentary. Gandamana is a governor or advisor (patih) found in the Mahabharata cycle of plays. The slight variations probably suggest some difference from the standard state of the puppet, such as change of mood or age.

Cultural Context

Theatrical performance.

Iconographic Meaning

Each puppet is characterized by its wanda, a Javanese word which describes the specific mixture of elements of size, form, colour, ornamentation and carving. Pink face, red eyes, bulging features suggest aggressive nature and are unrefined. Headdress, batik, position of hands and arm ornaments indicate some nobility. Headdress and facial type (Bima) identify character as Gandamana, although variations are found in headdress (slightly simpler, lack of teeth on Garuda, and no dawala on sumping) which are minor.

Item History

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