Secrets of Bali
by Jonathan Copeland
"ONE of my earliest memories is of watching a shadow puppet performance in our village temple in Ubud at night.."
Ni Wayan Murni
This rare puppet collection (167 puppets, including their weapons) was acquired by Murni from another collector in Java. A complete set typically takes about 25 years to make.
Many of the puppets were made by a famous puppet maker from Yogyakarta called Ki Ledjar Subroto and his name is written on them.
The impressive variety of Javanese shadow puppets represents the variety of human life. In Java, spectators of a shadow puppet performance watch the brightly coloured puppets behind the screen or watch their shadows in front of the screen.
Many of the stories are from the Indian epic, the Mahabarata, which is the tale of a dispute between the 5 Pandawa brothers and their cousins, the 99 Kurawa brothers (and one sister), which ends in a great 18 day battle, known as the Baratayuda.
Stories are also from the other Indian epic, the Ramayana.
The stories reflect old Javanese values, where there was an unequal social order and each person had his duty and function, determined by fate.
The God-King communicates with the Gods, the Brahman priests perform the rituals, the Satriya warriors protect the state, the traders keep the economy on track and the artisans build the infrastructure. Social approval depends on how well the person carries out his pre-ordained function.
Through concrete mythological examples Javanese children learn philosophy, aesthetics and morals.
Some of the puppets in the collection belong to Wayang Kancil, which are shadow puppets, where all the characters are animals.
Wild animals, representing bad characters, like tigers, crocodiles and wild pigs, are placed on the left of the screen, while tame animals, representing good characters, like deer, birds, cows, fish and horses, are placed on the right. Only a few people now perform this rare style, like the maker of the puppets, Ki Ledjar Subroto.
An offer for the whole collection will be considered.
Abyoso abdicated in middle age to devote himself to meditation. He named Pandu as his successor on the understanding the throne would revert to Drestarata's line. Many thought Pandu was entitled to name his own successor. This was the origin of the dispute between Drestarata's sons (the Kurawa) and Pandu's sons (the Pandawa), which was settled by the last war. After the last war, he performed the purification rites.
Height 68 cm, width 24 cm
He married Dewi Srikandi. His other wife was Dewi Sumbadra, who was his first cousin and sister of Kresna.
Height 69 cm, width 26.5 cm
Background: In a complete wayang collection there are several versions of Arjuna, who is one of the most important characters in the Mahabarata, to represent his different moods (wondo).
These include wondo mangu (in doubt), wondo kanjut (carried away by the charms of a princess), wondo malatsih (attractive to others), wondo kimanti (mature) and wondo jangleng (calm and sure of himself).
Height 66 cm, width 26 cm
Background: He wears a princely draped dodot cloth and a mangaran, which is a kris stylized as garlands of flowers in the wayang convention for the Satriya princely caste. His hairstyle is in the shrimp style.
Height 71.5 cm, width 30 cm
Height 75.5 cm, width 29 cm
Background: Aswatomo was the only son of Durno and the heavenly nymph. Dewi Wilutama. He was shrewd and cynical, like his father.
After the defeat of the Kurawa in the last war, the Pandawa rested. Aswatomo crept back and wreaked vengeance. He stabbed Raden Drestadjumena, Dewi Srikandi, Drupadi's son, Raden Pantjawala and Suyadono's widow, Banowati. He then attempted to kill Arjuna's grandson, Parikesit, but he was sleeping with the sprung magical arrow, which was released and killed Aswatomo.
Height 49.5 cm, length 52.5 cm
Height 57 cm, width 22.5 cm
Background: Bagong was the fourth of the Pandawa clowns. He was deformed with a bald head, a hernia, a fat belly and backside, and almost no nose. He had a deep slow voice and was very stupid, misunderstanding what everyone said.
Kresna, on the Pandawa side, knew that if he fought in the last war, the Padawa would lose. So he persuaded him to go into a deep trance in preparation and promised to wake him up when the battle began. He didn't wake him up.
Background: His mother, Dewi Kunti, while still an unmarried virgin was seduced by Surya, the Sun-God. She gave birth to Karno and bandoned the new-born baby, who was brought up by a simple charioteer and taken into service by the eldest of the Kurawa.
She later gave birth to the Pandawa. Karno fought on the side of the Kurawas as to do otherwise would have shown ingratitude.
He was therefore at war with his younger brothers. On the fifth day of he last war, he was killed by his half-brother, Arjuna, using his magic arrow, Pasopati.
He symbolizes triumph over low social origins and snobbery.
Background: According to the Ramayana, Kausalya gave birth to two of Dasarata's sons, Rama and Lesmono. Shortly afterwards Dasarata's second wife, Kaikeyi, gave birth to his third son, Baroto.
Dasarata decided to abdicate and make Rama his heir. But Kaikeyi wanted Baroto to be heir and made unfounded allegations against Rama. Rama refused to defend himself and was banished. He went into the forest with Sinta, his wife, and Lesmono.
Kaikeyi compelled Dasarata to make Baroto his heir, but Baroto refused and followed Rama into the forest to get him to ascend the throne. He failed to presuade him and returned to act as regent until Rama came back.
After the war, Rama and Sinta were reunited and returned to Ayodhya with Lesmono and Hanoman. Baroto welcomed them and Rama was crowned.
Background: The God of the Winds and son of Betoro Guru. He was the father of Bimo and Hanoman. The three of them had terrible razor-sharp fingernails, pancanaka, (the only ones in the wayang).
All three wear the sacred chequered, magical, poleng loin cloth, of red (for Brahma), white (for Siwa or Batara Guru), black (for Wisnu and Kresna) and yellow (for Surya, the sun god) check. He is usually on the side of the Pendawa.
Background: Siwa is represented by Betoro Guru. He is wearing a crown, in the form of the Indic-derived mahkota, and a wing-shaped backpiece, a praba, a kingly symbol. His head piece, sumping, is in the form of sureng pati (from the Javanese suro ing pati, daring death), which is also an indicator of princely rank. He wears a thread-form necklace, kalung ulur-ulur.
When young he swore to remain celibate and when Dewi Ambalika wanted to marry him he accidentally killed her with an arrow to the heart. Ambalika was reincarnated in Srikandi, Arjuna's warrior wife, who killed Bismo in revenge on the second day of the last war.
When he died, both sides paid their respects to him. He prophesied victory for the Pandawa.
All three, Bimo, Gods of the Winds and Hanoman, have the long fingernail and wear the sacred chequered, magical, poleng loin cloth, of red (for Brahma), white (for Siwa or Batara Guru), black (for Wisnu and Kresna) and yellow (for Surya, the sun god) check.
Bimo was known for his great strength and violence in battle. He wielded a club and strode through forests and seas and didn't use a chariot. He refused any pomp and finery and spoke even to the gods in coarse language. He was muscular and clumbsy, but his courage and honesty and fighting skill made him amongst the most admired.
On the tenth and last day of the last war, Bimo struck a huge blow on Suyadono's thigh and killed him, the last of the Kurawa chiefs. All 100 of the Kurawa were dead.
Height 67 cm, width 25 cm
Order Number: SPC24
Order Number: SPC25
Background: He was a Kurawa, much feared because of his huge size and violent nature. He fell desperately in love with Arjuna's wife, Sumbadra, and swore never to touch another woman. Arjuna's death was his wish.
Height 71 cm, width 29 cm
Murni's Collection of Shadow Puppets 1
To be sold only as a collection.
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