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Puppet - Javanese rod puppet possibly representing Ghatotkacha. Javanese, 19th century
  • Javanese rod puppet possibly representing Ghatotkacha. Javanese, 19th century
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Javanese rod puppet possibly representing Ghatotkacha. Javanese, 19th century

  • Object:

    Puppet

  • Place of origin:

    Java (made)

  • Date:

    19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood with painted decoration, sewn batik cloth

  • Credit Line:

    Lanchester Collection

  • Museum number:

    S.975-2011

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Javanese wayang golek or rod puppets are carved from soft wood, with necks that can swivel and bodies clad in long cotton sarongs. Their headdresses, costumes and colours can indicate the puppets’ characters. White means purity, virtue and moral integrity and is often the face colour of princes. Red means aggressiveness and anger, while blue and green faces mean cowardliness and hypocrisy. They are operated from below the stage by a central rod and by rods connected to the puppets’ hands. The puppeteer directs the performance and speaks all the roles. Behind him sit female singers and a gamelan orchestra.

Dating back to the 16th century, the plays they performed were based on Javanese folklore or stories from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, ancient Indian epic stories featuring the struggle between good and evil, with good figures on the left of the puppeteer or dalang, and the evil on his left.

Ghatotkacha was an important, magical character In the Mahabharata who was summoned by Bhima to fight on the Pandava side in the Kurukshetra battle.

Physical description

Painted wooden head, arms, legs and torso, possibly representing Ghatotkacha. Face painted blue with red eyes and mouth with facial hair, wearing a painted gold, turquoise, red, green and black hat and a long flowing blue and yellow patterned batik skirt. Operated by two wooden rods attached to the arms.

Place of Origin

Java (made)

Date

19th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Carved wood with painted decoration, sewn batik cloth

Dimensions

height: 82 cm from the top of the crown to the bottom, width: 31 cm from arm to arm

Descriptive line

One of a set of six carved and painted wayang golek puppets, possibly representing Ghatotkacha. Javanese, 19th century.

Materials

Wood; Paint; Batik

Techniques

Painted; Sewn; Carved

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Puppetry

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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