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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. Pink face positioned forward: slightly curved nose, closed dark pink lips. Hair, eyebrows, moustache, facial details and eyes outlined in black. Black upswept curl (gelung supit urang) headdress with red flower motif (7 petals) at front, lungsen surrounding grey area, long gold sumping extending below curl with red bottom, flower beneath ear and green decoration. Single kendit. Gold neck and upper body; red and gold ornaments at bicep and wrist on each arm. Hands held flat and bent back at wrist. Red chest covering and apron with brown wavy trim, sequins and beads. Apron has red waistband, '+' pattern in beads, and yellow fringe at bottom. Long beige skirt with blue and red.

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. Nakula and Sadewa are Pandawa princes (raden), appearing in the Mahabharata cycle. They have indistinguishable puppets.

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. Colour and position of face suggest some aggressiveness; small features are refined. Headdress, batik, position of hands, arm ornaments, and skin colour indicate nobility. Character identified as Nakula or Sadewa, twin brothers and fourth and fifth in line of the Pandawa brothers.

Item History

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