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A three-dimensional male humanoid figure puppet. Has a large head and jointed arms attached to controlling rods. The dark red face is positioned forward with white eyes, prominent upper teeth, a moustache, hair, and details in black. Bulging features. The headdress is a variation of gelung keling, with a turban-like front, and a reversed curl in white, blue, and red while the diadem (jamang) is in gold. Very long hair extending below the rear of the headdress. Very slim body with the neck and the arms painted in gold. Arm ornaments are at the wrists and the biceps with the hands held flat and bending back at the wrists. The chest is covered by a black triangular garment with frills over the top front of the yellow and black batik skirt.

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. Character might serve as a minor official or noble, although his role has not been determined. A mood manifestation is a variation of a character's form to reflect a physical or spiritual change. However, this puppet does not appear to be a manifestation of another, and must be considered anomalous.

Iconographic Meaning

Each puppet is characterized by it's wanda, a Javanese word which describes the specific mixture of elements of size, form, colour, ornamentation and carving. Red face, eyes suggest aggressiveness; position suggests irreverence. Large features unrefined; clothing suggests wealth or rank. Headdress not undistinguished, although unusual. Character not identified; non-standard. Possibly a mood manifestation, but the variation is so severe that this is unlikely.

Cultural Context

Theatrical performance.

Item History

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