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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 slightly downwards; small eyes, hair, moustache, beard, facial details in black. Pointed, slightly curved nose; dark pink lips, exposed white teeth. Large red crown (mahkota) with tiered diadem (jamang), karawista and badong in gold. Green Garuda Mungkur (short tongued) with black Tali Garuda, and single black hair curl (kendit). Black neck and upper torso; two green and red ornaments on each arm, at wrist and bicep. Hands held flat and bent back at wrist. Red chest covering and apron with brown wavy trim, beads and sequins. Apron has red waistband and long yellow fringe at bottom. Long batik skirt in red, blue and 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. Kresna is the personification of Vishnu as the king (prabu) of Dwarawati. His weapon is the cakra, which is like a discus, that never misses. He is connected with the Pandawas, and especially Arjuna. He appears in this form in the Mahabharata cycle of plays.

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 suggests aggressiveness. Facial features are quite refined; position of face indicates virtue. Crown headdress identifies character as a king (prabu) or god (betara). Headdress, batik, position of hands, and arm ornaments suggest a noble character. Character is likely a variation of Kresna, who it resembles with little difference (crown with nyamat, or double badong).

Item History

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