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Old 2nd September 2019, 11:08 PM   #1
Gustav
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Default An early figural hilt

Dear All,

another interesting thing auctioned last week.

It is an ivory hilt from 17th cent., possibly earlier, mounted on a wooden base. It appears to be an old Kunstkammer mounting, possibly also 17th cent. It's inscribed "ZUTIBUR", and there is a faded inscription on bottom of base.

It belongs to a small group of hilts with very clearly defined details, which are so similar that an attribution to one carver or workshop seems to be possible.

One of them sits on Dresden 2889, yet in 1684 and before with some bigger possibility was on another Keris mentioned in the same inventory. The second hilt is in a private collection, mounted on a big 17th cent. or earlier blade, both of them with old style Mendak.

There are another hilts on early Keris, on which the figure is in a stage between… well, humanoid and floral form. This tendency we see already in some Majapahit period stone carvings, well before Mantingan carvings. The feature which really is unique to this group of hilts is the small upright triangular symbol in place where lotus blossom/Yoni normally is depicted on figural hilts from that time. Also other features are carved in a style very distinct from other early figural hilts.

Again - who was using such hilts? Social/religious group, a family?
It seems to carry a message.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 02:07 PM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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Gustav, I have read your post many times, and I have been thinking about your words for the last couple of days.

I think that perhaps you are thinking along the lines of hopefully being able to attribute this hilt style to some specific group of people who were present in 16th century Jawa at the time of the early European contacts. My feeling about this is that other than attribution to the broad North Coast Muslim community, it might be just a little bit difficult be any more specific.

However, there is one thing that has really caught my attention, and I am hoping that you will be able to assist, you have written:-

"This tendency we see already in some Majapahit period stone carvings, well before Mantingan carvings."

By the Mantingan carvings, I assume you mean the ornamentation of the Mantingan Mesjid in Japara that dates from about 1560? So yes, carvings produced during the Majapahit era did most certainly precede the Jepara style.

My problem is this:- I cannot recall ever seeing Majapahit era carvings where human figures are represented with some parts of their bodies rendered in the lung-lungan style. I admit, I have never consciously gone looking for this particular style of carving, but I have seen and photographed a lot of Majapahit era carving, so I think I might have noticed it in passing. The lung-lungan style is quite prolific in Majapahit bas reliefs, but I cannot recall ever having seen it applied to a human, or human-like, figure.

I am not saying lung-lungan ornamentation of human figures did not occur in Majapahit era carvings, it may well have, Islam was well established in Majapahit Jawa, and some Muslim individuals could well have commissioned carvings where human and human-like figures had parts of their bodies represented as foliage. But I do not know of this.

In respect of the triangular motif, surely we are looking at the tumpal motif here, and the meaning is dependent upon the situational interpretation --- Javanese iconography rarely has only a single way of being understood, so interpretation depends upon situational factors, and in the historical sense that can make a single valid interpretation of the motif somewhere between difficult and impossible.

You have commented:-

" It seems to carry a message."

I am uncertain what you mean by this, could you expand a little on this comment?

Thank you.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 11:09 PM   #3
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Alan, thank you for your response to my post.

I know your opinion is that the early figural hilts depicting more or less demonic beings belong to North Coast Muslim community, and I am sure you know I suppose there could be hilts from other regions and earlier non-Muslim hilts amongst these as well. I am absolutely fine with this situation.

Well, I am aware that Majapahit preceded Mantingan Mesjid. I mentioned it exactly because there is an opinion the "hiding" of an anthropomorphe figure under scrolls/cloud ornaments/foliage started when Islam took over. This opinion has its merits and is true to certain degree, but I think we should perhaps start to question its simple comprehensive usage.

The image attached is a carving from East-Java, 13th/14th cent. from Jakarta, Museum Nasional. At the left we see a demonic being, his arms, head turning into scrolls, hair into cloud-like shapes. An interesting point is, that it is squatting very much like the figures on Keris hilts. Bernet Kempers has interpreted the cloud-like shape in the right upper corner as a head of Nogo, and pointed out, that such reinterpretations are a typical feature of Majapahit art. Stutterheim saw in this feature the "magically loaded art" of East Javanese reliefs.

I doubt this relief was commissioned by an Muslim individual.

About the word "message" in this context. The triangular symbol instead of a Lotus blossom/Yoni - on later Balinese hilts we see a Bintulu or a precious stone in that place. The meaning of this feature is protective, apotropaic, we see such apotropaic symbols before/at the feet of a figure also in Majapahit art.

Why a triangular symbol instead of Lotus/Yoni/Bintulu for a small group of very similar hilts? I think there is a message in it.
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Old 4th September 2019, 09:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav

Why a triangular symbol instead of Lotus/Yoni/Bintulu for a small group of very similar hilts? I think there is a message in it.


May be because the yoni depiction was no longer acceptable in the Muslim-influenced society at that time? It reminds me of the "modesty plates" worn by the young Bugis girls for hiding their genitals.
I wonder whether these triangular motifs on the hilts are original or added later (not clear from the pics).

Last edited by Jean : 4th September 2019 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 4th September 2019, 09:42 AM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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Gustav, the process of Islamisation in Jawa was overall, a gentle one.

Certainly we can identify wars that took place between the old order of Hindu-Buddhist, and the new order of Islam, that were far less than gentle, but these wars were primarily political in nature, rather than religious. Islam inserted itself gently into Javanese society, and it did this the way that has often been employed by other religions and other philosophies across the world. Islam took practices and styles associated with Javanese society and it used these practices and styles as tools to draw people to the new philosophy of Islam:- nothing had changed, only slight variations in expression and of course that big variation that all men, even rulers, were as one before the One God.

During the early years of Islamisation there was a gradual insertion and intensification of Islamic philosophies into the architectural and artistic style that was associated with Old Jawa, even going far back before Majapahit, and in fact being able to be seen in eras as early as those associated with the Candi Songo Complex. So, when we see the intertwined foliage motifs that are broadly referred to now as "lung-lungan" (lung = tendril, sprout, lung-lungan is the name of the motif that uses vines, tendrils, sprouts to create forms and infill), what we are seeing is a very old style of Javanese art that has been adapted to express Islamic ideals.

Later when the influence of Chinese artistic expression penetrated the North Coast settlements, we can see the interpolation of the lung-lungan motif into the Chinese inspired cloud motifs that are associated with the North Coast. It seems to be a universal human characteristic that we see pictures in cloud formations. We see trees, and dragons, and galloping horses --- and Joni Mitchell saw "Rows and flows of angel hair, And ice cream castles in the air, And feather canyons everywhere". In any case, the human imagination at play seems to find unrelated forms in other forms, the Javanese people are human beings, and more than 1000 years ago they were expressing these perceptions of forms within their artistic styles.

It did not start with Majapahit, it began a long time before that, but it intensified under Islamic influence and became a tool to assist in Islamisation.

We cannot look at keris hilts in isolation from everything else that was happening in Jawa at any particular period. Yes, beyond doubt the representation of human and humanoid forms as forms concealed by non-human characteristics did intensify under Islam, but it did not start with Islam, it is a recognised Javanese style of expression that began very much earlier.

In respect of the Mantingan Mesjid what we have here is a wonderful example of the Jepara style, a style that is later shown in the Jepara wood carving style, and (to me at least) seems to appear in the Batuan style of 20th century Bali. Bearing in mind the influences on 20th century Balinese artistic expression, it seems possible that this perceived influence can trace its roots back to Jepara.

That East Jawa bas-relief is a bit of problem, as I have never been able to find any information on exactly where it came from, all that ever appears is a reference to Tulung Agung. For the last 100 years or so "Tulung Agung" has been the name applied to a kabupaten on the south coast of East Jawa, about 100miles south of Surabaya. However, originally it was only applied to a very small area that was the place of a major spring, or at least water source, I'm guessing it was a spring. The area around Tulung Agung was known as Ngrowo. Now Bernet Kempers wrote in the 20th century, so I'm assuming that when he tells us that this bas-relief comes from Tulung Agung, he is referring to the kabupaten of Tulung Agung that was previously known as Ngrowo.

In the Kabuptaen of Tulung Agung there are the remains of Candi Boyolangu, also known as Candi Gayatri. Candi Gayatri dates from about 1360-something, and is one of four(?) candis that were prepared to receive the remains (either actual or spiritual) of Gayatri Rajapatni, a wife of Raden Wijaya, mother of Wijayatunggadewi and grandmother of Hayam Wuruk. She was the educative & guiding power behind Gajah Mada. If there had been no Gayatri, there might never have been a Kingdom of Majapahit that came to be regarded as Jawa's Golden Age.

So, my personal belief is that this bas-relief probably came from the ruins of Candi Gayatri. If we examine the figures shown in this bas-relief, the naga is obvious and is not divergent from the Javanese style that I have just mentioned, but it is clearly a later development. Probably this Naga is Naga Basuki, but Anantaboga is also a possibility. Naga Basuki and Naga Anantaboga represent the needs of mankind.

Bernet Kempers refers to the "demonic" figure on the left as a "bhuta". I believe we can go further than this, I think this figure is actually a representation of Bhoma. Bhoma is the son of Wisnu and Dewi Pertiwi, Wisnu is the deity who controls rain, Pertiwi is the Earth Mother, their son Bhoma is the result of Wisnu's rape of Pertiwi, and his name has the meaning "of the earth" Bhoma is the spirit of the forest, of vegetation, of growth, growth occurs because of the union of rain and earth, and Bhoma is both the personification of this growth and its guardian. Bhoma is born of the Earth and is often shown with tendrils coming from parts of his body, or where only the head of Bhoma appears above a gateway, tendrils coming from his mouth.

Now, why do I think this bas-relief might come from Candi Gayatri, well, there is a reference to Gayatri Rajapatni in the bas-relief. At Bhoma's feet is a Hamsa, a goose. In Hindu belief the goose is the vahana of several deities, one of those deities is Gayatri, the personification of the Vedic Gayatri Mantra, and the consort of Siwa, or according to another sect, the consort of Brahma. The Vedic Gayatri is of course the source of Gayatri Rajapatni's name.

This leaves the figure in the middle unidentified. I am inclined to think that this figure is representative of Humanity making an offering to Bhoma whilst observed the Naga Basuki. It would help if we knew exactly where this bas-relief came from, but wherever it came from, it cannot be simply written off as a "comic scene" which is what Bernet Kempers referred to it as. I sometimes wonder at some of our recognised "Greats". Art in this context was never art for amusement or for art's sake, it was an offering to those of the Niskala.

Now if we read this entire bas relief in terms of its iconographic content, what we might have is Naga Basuki who is representative of the needs of Mankind observing Mankind making an offering to Bhoma who is the guardian of the means of fulfilling those needs, and all in the presence of Gayatri, whose presence is implied by the presence of the Hamsa.

As for Stutterheim's "magically loaded East Javanese reliefs", well, yeah, welcome to the human race. At points in the development of Humanity all art is certainly symbolically loaded, symbolism is only ever meant to be understood by those who are chosen to understand it, and that which is not understood is, of course, one of the definitions of "magic".

Now, in respect of this yoni : lotus : karang bintulu : tumpal conundrum.

From my perspective, I am not yet sure that I can accept the assumptions upon which the riddle has been posed. The question may well be a valid one, but if it is, it is one that I have not yet devoted more than passing attention to. I most certainly have never looked closely at the factors involved.
We know how to read the presence of a tumpal, the presence of a karang bintulu seems to imply a reference to Kala, and/or possibly to Bhoma, the presence of a lotus can be interpreted in a number of ways and is situational, the feature that is sometimes interpreted as a yoni, well, that becomes exceedingly difficult, because it could perhaps be a matter of misreading. In Balinese carving, the karang bintulu is used as one of the fill motifs and in accordance with laid down process.

There are a lot of questions attached to this riddle, and I do not think that I currently have sufficient understanding of the motifs involved and their respective frames of reference to even begin to think about a possible analysis.
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Old 4th September 2019, 03:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
May be because the yoni depiction was no longer acceptable in the Muslim-influenced society at that time? It reminds me of the "modesty plates" worn by the young Bugis girls for hiding their genitals.
I wonder whether these triangular motifs on the hilts are original or added later (not clear from the pics).


The lotus/Yoni thing appears on the back Tumpal, as always is the case with the hilts on which it appears at all.
It is quite clear that the triangles are original, and we have them only on these (at the moment) three hilts which share a complete iconographic program and carving style.

Perhaps you could name a feature, which is Muslim-influenced on this hilt?

Modesty plates were absolutely common in Majapahit. There are very fine golden examples.
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Old 4th September 2019, 03:26 PM   #7
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Alan, thank you very much for your interesting post.
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Old 4th September 2019, 06:30 PM   #8
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Gustav, Thank you and sorry for the confusion, but I can't trace any Muslim indicator on this hilt.
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Old 4th September 2019, 08:42 PM   #9
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Alan, just one remark about the bas-relief. The description and possible provenance provided by you is rather convincing.

As I understand, Bernet Kempers saw it not just as "comic scene", but possibly as an (indeed) comic scene from Tantri Kamandaka. I don't have Tantri Kamandaka and have never read it, only overall description of main storyline, so I can't prove if there is such scene or not. But the central figure with some certainty is a Panakawan, - this means a dose of humor contained, so typical for Javanese art.

About the carvings on Bungkul part of early figural hilts and their possible development - I certainly have devoted more then passing attention to them - we could discuss them someday perhaps.
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Old 5th September 2019, 12:01 AM   #10
A. G. Maisey
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Yes Gustav, Bernet Kempers does identify the central figure as a punakawan, and frankly, I have a bit of a problem with that too. In my reference ("Ancient Indonesian Art", A.J. Bernet Kempers, Harvard University Press, 1959) the Tantri Kamandaka is not mentioned. If Bernet Kempers was able to link this bas-relief to one of the Tantri stories, this would seem to indicate that this bas-relief came from a site which had more, or all of the Tantri stories, the Tantri stories do not stand alone, but as a series of animal tales containing advice on statecraft & morals suitable for a ruler. They are drawn from the original Pancatantra, which is a sort of Indian 1001 nights, Pancatantra is written in Sanskrit.

The Tantri stories appear on several candis in East Jawa and in Central Jawa. They can be found on Candi Mendut and Candi Sojiwan in Central Jawa, these are Early Classical, so pre-date the Kamandaka, but in East Jawa there are 14(?) Tantri stotries on Candi Jago, and 11 (?) or these can be related to the Kamandaka. Candi Jago is mid-14th century.

In Jawa the Pancatantra was used to produce five different versions, the oldest version is the Tantri Kamandaka which was produced around 1000AD to 1050AD, which places it around the period of transition from Central Jawa to East Jawa cultural period.

Now, in Old Javanese the word punakawan (panakawan) comes from "kawan", kawan means "friend", "panakawan" a member of a group that forms followers or retinue. In Modern Javanese "panakawan" means a servant or a follower, but has the further specific meaning in association with the wayang of being a clown-servant of the hero. In wayang there are four panakawan:- Semar, Petruk, Gareng, Bagong. Non-native speakers of Javanese tend to think of a panakawan in association with its wayang usage where the idea of servant + humour is present, but in reality the primary meaning of the word "panakawan/punakawan" is simply a member of a group of followers or retinue.

So, we have the question of whether Bernet Kempers intended his identification of the central figure as a panakawan to be wayang related, or whether the word should be understood in its general, rather than specific sense. Since he uses the word "comic" we can be reasonably confident that he is using panakawan in the sense of a wayang character. This is where the problem arises, because it seems probable that the comic nature of the wayang panakawans did not arise until wayang golek was replaced by wayang purwa in the 15th century in Demak, the replacement occurred because of Raden Patah's prohibition that applied to the wayang golek puppets.

So, if wayang punakawans became comic in the 15th century, how could a bas relief attributed to an earlier period represent a comic punakawan? Bear in mind, in Majapahit Old Javanese was in use, and a wayang punakawan was not automatically a comic figure. Moreover, the comic punakawan is associated with the Ramayana, and the Tantri stories do not involve the Ramayana.

I apologise for all this digression into off-topic matters, but the problem is this:- we cannot sensibly discuss the implications and intended meanings or purposes of Javanese/Balinese artistic representations in the absence of very diverse understanding of related fields, nor can we adopt a mental frame of reference that draws only upon our own life experience in the present era. In simple terms we need to try to adopt a frame of reference that applies to the time at which the matter being examined was generated.

We do not learn to understand the keris by studying the keris, we need to diversify our attentions and look at other elements.
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Old 6th September 2019, 12:02 AM   #11
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Alan, if you address me in the last two paragraphs, - I have diversified my attention for some time already, and posted a "Majapahit era carving where human figure is represented with some parts of it's body rendered in the lung-lungan style", something, at which you didn't look consciously until now and doubted its existence in Majapahit period.

Regarding Panakawan -

from what I did read about Panakawan until now I understand, that they are purely Javanese invention, as they doesn't exist in Indian sources, and that comic element surely was a part of character of Panakawan earlier then Raden Patah's politics. For the first time I also hear that comic Panakawan are associated only with Ramayana. Here my experience totally differs.

If we take a look to reliefs of Candi Surowono, c. 1400, the behavior of Panakawan serves as commentary to the actions of protagonist Arjuna.
Sometimes they do just the opposite of their master, for example, during Arjunas temptation they busily make love with the female servants of the nymphs. Sometimes they mimic actions of Arjuna, as in the battle scene, where they make threatening gestures at Siva.

So I am quite sceptic about your sentence "... because it seems probable that the comic nature of the wayang panakawans did not arise until wayang golek was replaced by wayang purwa in the 15th century in Demak, the replacement occurred because of Raden Patah's prohibition that applied to the wayang golek puppets.", also because of another reason.

If you really mean that, Wayang Golek is a Wayang figure style, which quite certainly even didn't exist in 15th cent., and developed in Cirebon area most probably in 17th cent.

Wayang Purwa is the classic Wayang repertoire, which consists of Jawa-Dewa, Arjuna-Sasrabau, Ramayana and Mahabrata. Other sources list Para-Dewa, Lokapala, Ramayana and Mahabarata-Baratayuda.

So Wayang Golek and Wayang Purwa belong to completely different categories, like grapes and bottles.

Regarding Tantri stories and the relief I posted - there is a story called Angling Dharma, of which the Tantri story "Language of Animals" is an introduction. Here a jewel-crowned snake princess, her father snake king appears, later a priest, father of Ambarawati, which is turned into Rakshasa. Ambarawati, arguing with her Rakshasa-father, travels in company of Panakawan.
And there is another Tantri story "Goose and Tortoise", where a goose carries two tortoises with help of a stick. The tortoises are distracted, let the stick go and fall to the ground.
Often such scenes with Panakawan are meant as comic, burlesque comments on storyline, not as part of the story itself, or even seemingly totally isolated. Perhaps Bernet Kempers saw it as a gathering of protagonists from two stories, possibly depicted on the same building.

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Old 6th September 2019, 07:05 AM   #12
A. G. Maisey
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It seems that in spite of my best efforts I am not infrequently misunderstood, even though I am a protagonist for clear writing and simple expression, it appears that much of what I write is read as if it contains messages that I never intended.

I apologise to all who may read this for my unintentional lack of clarity. In this post I have attempted a slightly different format, in that I have interpolated individual responses to each of Gustav's comments, hopefully this will reduce the misunderstandings.


Alan, if you address me in the last two paragraphs, - I have diversified my attention for some time already, and posted a "Majapahit era carving where human figure is represented with some parts of it's body rendered in the lung-lungan style", something, at which you didn't look consciously until now and doubted its existence in Majapahit period.


I apologise Gustav, if you thought I was still speaking directly to you, rather than giving a rather rambling response to your post for all to read, this was entirely my error in failing to clearly identify where my remarks directed to you ceased, and my remarks intended for whoever might care to read them began.

I often tend to write in what I think of as a conversational style, as if we were all sitting in a big circle, where some remarks might be for one person and heard by all, and other remarks are obviously for everybody. The reason I write like this is because I need to squeeze my posts to this Forum in between other obligations, so I mostly write from the top of my head in an undisciplined manner, and I admit this can cause some confusion.

Again, my apologies for confusing you. I will try to keep this present post very simple and very direct, but regrettably, it might be a rather long post.

The Majapahit era carving to which you refer is the one that Bernet Kempers has identified as coming from Tulung Agung?
If so, this carving has a figure that Bernet Kempers identifies as a punakawan, and another that he identifies as a bhuta. We can accept that the punakawan is intended to be seen as human, this punakawan figure has no parts of its body hidden or represented as tendrils or foliage.
On the other hand, the bhuta does have some parts of its body represented as foliage. Bhutas are spirits or demons of the forest, this sort of representation of a bhuta is not at all unusual in older Javanese "raksasa" hilts; I'm guessing that if I went looking for this type of representation of bhutas in other places, I would probably find the same or a similar style applied.

My own interpretation of this carving is that we might possibly have a scene that includes a specific bhuta, Bhoma, present. Unless we can positively identify this bas-relief as a part of a Tantri series, then all I have to form my opinion is a carving in the absence of context. Perhaps Bernet Kempers knew that this carving was only one of a series, in which case his interpretation could well be valid, but if he did not have this additional information, well then, he is just guessing out of context too.

In any case, the carving shows a man & a bhuta, the bhuta is repesented in a usual way, the man is represented as a man, complete with fingers and toes --- or most of them anyway.

Regarding Panakawan -

from what I did read about Panakawan until now I understand, that they are purely Javanese invention, as they doesn't exist in Indian sources,


Yes, this is so.

and that comic element surely was a part of character of Panakawan earlier then Raden Patah's politics.

Yes, possibly, but it does seem to have intensified following the Demak bans.

The thing is this:- modern wayang kulit performances are full of social comment, moral teaching and philosophy. I am uncertain whether or not this was always so, but what we do know is this:- modern wayang kulit was used as tool of conversion by Islam.

A wayang kulit performance can last from dusk to dawn, and it is necessary for the dalang to keep his audience interested, he does this by introducing comedy and topical comment into the performance. The clown servants that are commonly called "punakawan" are critical in this delivery of humour. The punakawans are possibly indigenous deities that were pushed into the background by Jawa Hindu, then Islam, they actually are intended to represent the common people and their purpose in a wayang performance is to upset the social order, they usually speak in ngoko, while the characters with higher status are speaking krama, or krama inggil, or maybe kawi. These days most Javanese people cannot understand everything said in a wayang performance, but they do understand the clown-servants, so the jokes often get delivered by those punakawan.

For the first time I also hear that comic Panakawan are associated only with Ramayana. Here my experience totally differs.

I'm afraid that by reducing my comment to bare minimum rather than being all inclusive, I have caused you to misunderstand me Gustav. What I wrote was this:-

"--- Moreover, the comic punakawan is associated with the Ramayana, and the Tantri stories do not involve the Ramayana.---"

The punakawan in the wayang context is not limited to only the Ramayana, taking only Semar, who is the senior punakawan and the elder brother of Batara Guru, one of the names of Siwa, Semar is actually a god, but he appears as the common man, in different forms of the wayang, and different plays, Semar can have different sons, so the concept of "punakawan" can be extended into many more places than just the Ramayana. I mentioned the Ramayana because I think everybody knows of the Ramayana and in the Javanese Ramayana, Semar and his sons are decidedly humourous.

If you re-read my comment you will find that I have neither stated nor implied that punakawans exist only in the Ramayana. I have said two things, firstly that the comic punakawan is associated with the Ramayana, secondly that the Tantri stories are not associated with the Ramayana. I have said just this, and no more.

If we take a look to reliefs of Candi Surowono, c. 1400, the behavior of Panakawan serves as commentary to the actions of protagonist Arjuna.
Sometimes they do just the opposite of their master, for example, during Arjunas temptation they busily make love with the female servants of the nymphs. Sometimes they mimic actions of Arjuna, as in the battle scene, where they make threatening gestures at Siva.


I'm familiar with Candi Surowono, in fact I think I have a complete photographic record of all the reliefs that are still present on this candi. Only the base remains, and it has a mix of stories, there are some Tantri stories, the Arjunawiwaha story runs right around the base, but it is broken by another couple of stories that I've forgotten the names of.

In fact, I doubt that we can call the clown-servants in the Surowono reliefs "punakawans" , I might be wrong, but I doubt that Semar is present in these reliefs, and in the wayang context we cannot have punakawans in the absence of Semar. Yes, this is a bas-relief, rather than a wayang play, and clown servants might be referred to as "punakawans" in the principle sense of the word, especially as it applied in Old Javanese, but if we do that we lose the inherent comic implication that "punakawan" + "wayang" generates. In fact, I think one authority on Surowono refers to the clown servants as "grotesque dwarfs", I forget who that was.

So I am quite sceptic about your sentence "... because it seems probable that the comic nature of the wayang panakawans did not arise until wayang golek was replaced by wayang purwa in the 15th century in Demak, the replacement occurred because of Raden Patah's prohibition that applied to the wayang golek puppets.", also because of another reason.

If you really mean that, Wayang Golek is a Wayang figure style, which quite certainly even didn't exist in 15th cent., and developed in Cirebon area most probably in 17th cent.


It is very difficult to be too positive about anything that concerns wayang golek. We can be relatively certain about a lot that concerns wayang purwa, wayang wong, wayang klitik, wayang beber &etc & etc & etc but with wayang golek we do not really have very much to go on For instance we do not know with certainty that it dates from the 17th century, we tend to assume that it came to North Coast Jawa from China, but we do not know this with certainty either. Many assumptions are applied to wayang golek.

What we do know is that many people in Jawa who take an interest in this sort of thing believe that Raden Patah objected to figures in the round being used in puppet plays, and also objected to the wayang kulit puppets being actually seen by the audience, so he banned representations of gods and god-like characters that could be seen. Because religious leaders were very keen to use the wayang plays for the purposes of religious propaganda they replaced the puppet plays using visible characters, with wayang purwa, that is, shadow theatre.

What did originate at a later date, I think it was during the time of PBII, around 1700&something, was wayang golek menak.

The passing of time tends to distort perception, and a lot of things that we believe to be so today are really very open to question. It is as I have sometimes said:- the more I learn, the less I know.


Wayang Purwa is the classic Wayang repertoire, which consists of Jawa-Dewa, Arjuna-Sasrabau, Ramayana and Mahabrata. Other sources list Para-Dewa, Lokapala, Ramayana and Mahabarata-Baratayuda.

So Wayang Golek and Wayang Purwa belong to completely different categories, like grapes and bottles.



No Gustav, all wayang is one category. The word wayang indicates a traditional performance, there are many different forms of wayang, and the repertoire of each form can be either similar to, or the same as, or completely different to another form.

Regarding Tantri stories and the relief I posted - there is a story called Angling Dharma, of which the Tantri story "Language of Animals" is an introduction.

Yes, this is one of the versions

Here a jewel-crowned snake princess, her father snake king appears, later a priest, father of Ambarawati, which is turned into Rakshasa. Ambarawati, arguing with her Rakshasa-father, travels in company of Panakawan.
And there is another Tantri story "Goose and Tortoise", where a goose carries two tortoises with help of a stick. The tortoises are distracted, let the stick go and fall to the ground.


True, and many, many more moralistic teaching tales.

But we do really need to consider the rather loose use of the word "punakawan". In the wayang context a punakawan is Semar or one of his sons, in a wayang performance that does not include Semar, it is perhaps questionable whether a grotesque dwarf, or a clown-servant can in fact be called a "punakawan" in the wayang sense, but any member of a group of retainers and followers can be called a "punakawan" in the ordinary lay usage of the word.

So when Bernet Kempers calls the figure in the Tulung Agung relief a punakawan and then uses the word "comic", to me, that implies a wayang association with Semar. Where is Semar? Or is it a Tantri story? Or is it something else entirely? I don't know, but with this relief taken totally out of any context at all, we could all hypothesise forever, and know nothing more with any certainty at the end of it all.


Perhaps Bernet Kempers saw it as a gathering of protagonists from two stories, possibly depicted on the same building.

Possible.

All this sort of discussion eventually reduces to hypotheses, and in the case of the present root of the discussion, all this following commentary is really pretty irrelevant. There is very little that can be stated with certainty, there are a lot of questions. We can recount popular belief, we can wheel out the opinions of some of the recognised Greats --- who seldom seem to be able to reach agreement between themselves in any case.

This discussion began with a rather refined interpretation of a pretty typical North Coast hilt that included some design modification.

Gustav, you asked a question, or perhaps a couple of questions that to my mind seemed to be non-specific and obscure.

Do you feel that you might be able to re-phase these questions in a more specific way?

Perhaps you have some of your own ideas that you would like to run past us?
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Old 6th September 2019, 11:11 PM   #13
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Alan, once more, thank you very much.

I am sorry, but I must return to this, and I wont have time to write anything else till Sunday evening:

"This is where the problem arises, because it seems probable that the comic nature of the wayang panakawans did not arise until wayang golek was replaced by wayang purwa in the 15th century in Demak, the replacement occurred because of Raden Patah's prohibition that applied to the wayang golek puppets."

Wayang Golek is a material and construction type, in this case of a puppet. Other types with puppets involved are, for example, Wayang Kulit, Wayang Klitik. There are other Wayang material and construction types where puppets aren't involved, like Wayang Beber, Wayang Topeng, Wayang Wong.

Wayang Purwa is a certain part of repertoire, not a material or construction type. And Wayang Purwa is the old, classical part of repertoire, as it contains Hindu mythology. Other important part of Wayang repertoire is Wayang Gedog (Panji cycle), Damarwulan cycle, many Babad, and there are many lesser known, like Wayang Calonarang, Wayang Cupak, Wayang Jayaprana.

So Wayang Golek isn't repertoire, it is just a puppet construction type, and of classical ones - Kulit, Klitik and Golek - ist is clearly the youngest one.

Wayang Kulit is mentioned already in Arjunawiwoho, 11th cent. It is possible that Wayang Beber, consisting of pictorial scrolls, and some kind of Wayang involving human actors or dancers existed at that time or even earlier.

Wayang Klitik and Wayang Golek are not known on Bali (except for some modern and short-lived experiments), so in analogy to certain features of Keris we can say, they didn't exist in Hindu Java. Their formation started probably only in 17th cent., but there are some hints which indicate, that Wayang Klitik could be older, possibly from 16th cent. The main repertoire played with Wayang Klitik figures are Damarwulan, which is historically placed Majapahit, but was created most probably in 16th cent., and Panji cycle (Wayang Gedog), which is historically placed in 12th cent. but certainly is younger then Wayang Purwa and is linked with Chinese influence.

The main repertoire played with Wayang Golek figures are Babad Cirebon, which consists of stories dealing with Islamisation of Cirebon (outside of Cirebon replaced with Babad Jawa, which deals with Javanese history from Islamisation in 16th cent. till Diponegoro war) and Babad Menak, which deals with adventures of Amir Hamza, uncle of Prophet Mohammed, as well as Panji cycle and very seldom Damarwulan.

I have a quite good library about Wayang, and have never read about existence of Wayang Golek puppets before 17th cent. If a place of origin of Wayang Golek is mentioned, it's always West Java (Cirebon). The Methode of construction is known from Chinese puppet theatre, the repertoire played with these figure deals mostly with younger history and Islamic tales.

The oldest existing Wayang Kulit and Wayang Klitik puppets date from 17th cent., but there are no known Wayang Golek figures from that time.

So - Raden Patah in 15th cent. couldn't replace a puppet construction type called Wayang Golek (which even wasn't invented at that time) with repertoire called Wayang Purwa (which deals mostly with Hindu Mythology and was well known even prior to Majapahit) - as it isn't possible to replace puppet with story. You can replace only puppet with puppet or story with story.

And the comic element in nature of Panakawan is shown on structures which well predate Raden Patah, and in stories which aren't part of Ramayana.
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Old 7th September 2019, 04:07 AM   #14
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Gustav, I accept without question that you are very well informed in respect of the theoretical aspects of the wayang, however, I am not writing from a theoretical base, I am writing from a base of general knowledge, all of which has been acquired in Central Jawa over a 50 year period.

At one time I had a very highly regarded dalang who gave TV performances as a next door neighbour, two doors away I had a Balinese student of the ASKI (now the ISI, previously the STSI) who was studying to become a dalang, my housekeeper had a niece who was a working dalang (yes, these days there are female dalangs) , there was another ASKI student just across the road, but I did not know him well, the two gentlemen on my side of the street I saw and spoke with regularly, and I spoke with the niece on an irregular basis. During the 1970's and early 1980's I had a relative who was a middle level dalang and wayang kulit maker, he usually acted as my driver when I was in Solo.

In short, I have had a lot of contact and a lot of conversations with dalangs, I have attended a lot of wayang kulit performances and wayang wong performances, I attended one wayang beber performance back in the 1980's, that was in Pacitan, down on the south coast, I doubt that there is anybody now who plays wayang beber. Apart from wayang professionals, any performance of wayang will always generate a lot of discussion amongst people who attended and people who wanted to attend but could not, so I've had a lot of these lay conversations also.

I have never studied the wayang, but I am reasonably well read in wayang literature, one needs to be if one is serious about keris study, and I do have a small number of books and other literature that deals with wayang.

From a personal perspective I do not like wayang kulit, it is clever, it can be relaxing, but I'm good for probably no more than 2 hours maximum of a wayang kulit performance. I do rather enjoy wayang wong, but only in long separated doses.

So Gustav, I am coming at this wayang thing from a different direction, and that direction is a direction that I learnt to follow in Solo, Central Jawa. If my direction does not sit well with you, that's OK with me, you have no need to speak with Javanese people on a daily basis, but I do, and I'm not going to adopt ideas from books in conversation with these people. You stay with your books, I'll stay with my community beliefs.

Now, having laid all that out on the table I'll do a little bit more quibbling.

For anybody to state with certainty that wayang golek began at any particular time is indeed a very brave act. But we can state that wayang golek menak began at a relatively certain point in time. Yes, wayang golek menak is mostly associated with West Jawa.

Raden Patah gets into the story because even as the ruler of Demak the imams would not give permission for him to see the wayang performed in the traditional way with puppets in the round or with painted puppets, so he duly issued the required edicts to prevent playing wayang in the old ways, but then the imams gave permission for only the shadows of the puppets to be seen. A lot of people, including it would seem, some dalangs, believe that this was the point where they really had to learn how to hold their audience, and that involved more humour, more social comment, more moral comment.

In respect of the word "wayang".

Wayang is a form of story telling, sometimes those stories are told with the aid of puppets made of leather that are manipulated by a dalang in a way that throws the shadows of the puppets onto a screen, this is "Wayang Kulit".

However there are many other different ways of presenting those stories, some use the painted puppet in front of the screen, some use other puppets of various forms, sometimes a scroll with illustrations can be used, sometimes the story is told by human players, and this last is "Wayang Wong".

Wayang is story telling with illustrative assistance.

The most common form of wayang now is wayang kulit. The first mention of wayang involving the use of leather puppets dates from about the middle of the 800's, the word used to refer to this was either "ringgit" or "aringgit" --- if "aringgit" it would be reference to a performer, "ringgit" would be the type of performance, and both refer to the use of leather puppets. There is an inscription from the early 900's that says (I think) "Ki Galiki mawayang", in English this is:- "The Honorable Galiki played wayang".

Yes, leather puppets have been wayang props for a long time --- and so have other, less popular wayang props.

There are many forms of wayang, many more than I can remember, and probably more than I have ever heard of. They all involve telling a story. That story might be one of the old ones inherited from India that are included in the Wayang Purwa repertoire, or it might be something modern that involves the struggle against colonialism, or even modern politics or social agendas.

The established traditional forms of wayang have over-lapping repertoires These repertoires can contain stories with the same name, but they can be told in a different way.

From the traditional perspective, the wayang provides a means & method of social and moral guidance, to a great degree it fills a need that in traditional Western societies is filled by the Sunday Sermon. The characters and stories from the wayang form a reference point for the value systems of the Javanese people, both at grass roots level and amongst the elites. People will be likened to one wayang character or another, in accordance with personal traits and behaviour, or appearance; the correct way in which to act will often be influenced by the lessons that have come from the wayang.

Possibly some academics might have a different perspective of the wayang than I do, but my perspective has been gained over a very long time living with and relating to the people for whom the wayang is an important part of who they are. As with any belief system the beliefs surrounding the wayang are perhaps sometimes a matter of truth being that which is accepted by the greatest number of people.


Now, the comic punakawan.

There is absolutely no disagreement between us that in some Javanese monumental art there are elements of humour included. I think this sort of falls into the category of "Javanese Sculpture 101".

The people of Jawa are now, and have always been members of the Human Race, I might be wrong, but I believe that all communities of Human Beings, right across the world include in their make-up, an element of humour, and probably have always done so.

The statues and bas-reliefs of Old Jawa were a way of communicating with the members of Javanese communities, and all communication becomes a little more effective where an element of humour is involved. So humourous scenes were included in some narratives shown in the bas-reliefs on candis and in other places in order to keep the viewer continue with his viewing.

These narrative bas reliefs were in the nature of comic strips, just like Superman and Captain Marvel, if you wanted people to come and visit your candi and pray to you, or communicate with you through meditation, or to bring you offerings, you gave them something to keep them coming back. That something was the narrative bas relief. The comic strip.

Exactly the same as a story teller including humour in his stories so the audience will stay put.

Yes, humour did exist in Jawa before the 15th century. I agree absolutely that this is so.

However, to refer to a figure in a bas relief as a "punakawan" when that person is not able to be identified as Semar, or Petruk, or Gareng, or Bagong, or alternatively as a member of a defined group is simply not acceptable.

Even more unacceptable is to take an unidentified character in a bas relief and relate that character to an identified character in a wayang performance (of any type). To name one of these characters as a "punakawan" he must be one of the Semar group, or a member of some other identified group, he cannot be just a stray person who has wandered in off the street (so to speak).

The comic punakawan is related only to the wayang, and his role intensified as less and less people were able to understand the archaic languages, the element of humour in the role of the punakawan intensified when the dalang was forced to work only with shadows.

On the other hand, any member of a retinue or a group of followers can be referred to as a punakawan, and this usage can apply not only in wayang, but in common colloquial usage.

We need to understand the purpose of the punakawans in wayang. The wayang performances have the princes and the warriors and all the other elite characters speaking in Kawi or in Old Javanese, almost nobody today understands those languages, so in order to follow the story-line, the archaic languages need to be translated, the punakawans deliver the gist of the story in ngoko, which everybody can understand, and they intersperse this delivery with humour and asides.

When the dalangs were deprived of actual physical characters by the 15th century prohibitions, and they needed to rely on only their voice and some shadows to tell the story, they needed to work harder to hold their audience, and the belief is that they did this by increasing the humour delivered by the punakawans.

Maybe we can get back to keris hilts?
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Old 8th September 2019, 09:04 PM   #15
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Alan, the comical/serious Panakawans, non-Panakawans and humanoids carved in lung-lungan style aside -

if you are serious about your sentence about replacing a puppet construction style, a MATERIAL OBJECT,
with a repertoire, a compendium of tales, an IMMATERIAL OBJECT -
which is impossible per se and really a nonsense - and that is a book knowledge against a community knowledge in your opinion -
I am afraid, and I regret it, I am not able to participate in a discussion with you.
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Old 8th September 2019, 11:25 PM   #16
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I'm very sorry that you feel like this Gustav, but I do understand your frustration, it is a frustration that can arise when a foreign word is used mixed in with a different language. This is certainly a difficulty, and I'll try to clarify that, but I would most respectfully ask you to read my explanation of the word "wayang" and consider if what I have written is at variance with what you have written.

In fact, my understanding of the meaning of the word "wayang" is not at all as you have summarised it in your post #15.

I feel, that a large part of your frustration could be caused by a simple misunderstanding of the actual meaning of the word "wayang", and the way in which it can be used. I did try to clear this up in my previous post #14, but my explanation is buried in text, and it might easily have been missed, here it is again:-

However there are many other different ways of presenting those stories, some use the painted puppet in front of the screen, some use other puppets of various forms, sometimes a scroll with illustrations can be used, sometimes the story is told by human players, and this last is "Wayang Wong".

Wayang is story telling with illustrative assistance.


In essence, "wayang" is theatre, and just as with the English word "theatre", it can be used with an adjective to indicate the type of wayang that is being referred to. The word "wayang" is Javanese and it existed in Old Javanese, where the primary meaning is "pertunjukan", that is to say "a performance" but Zoetmulder qualifies this and specifies:-

"pertunjukan ( dramatik) yang didalamnya disajikan cerita (dengan boneka-boneka, oleh penari)

in English this means:-

"a dramatic performance that contains a presentation of a story, using dolls or puppets, or by a dancer" (the word "boneka can be understood as either "doll" or "puppet").

This is the meaning of the word "wayang", as it was understood in Old Javanese.

Modern Javanese seemed to develop from around the end of the 16th century, and it is common practice to regard Javanese used prior to this as Old Javanese, but in technical terms, Old Javanese was already adopting a new form during the Majapahit era, so purist linguists hold that the period between Majapahit and Mataram was the period in which Middle Javanese was used. Middle Javanese is the transitional phase between Old Javanese and Modern Javanese.

In Modern Javanese the word "wayang" is ngoko, the krama word is "ringgit". When used in the absence of an adjective, both these words can be understood to mean either the puppet used in a shadow-play, or the shadow-play itself. In Modern Javanese there are at least 17 commonly used adjectives that when combined with the word "wayang" will convey a specific meaning of the word wayang.

The word "wayang" has come into Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), and in this language, when used alone, it can mean either a shadow play, a leather puppet, or a traditional drama performance. As with Modern Javanese there is a plethora of adjectives that can be used with the word "wayang" to indicate the way in which the word is to be understood, of course, in normal colloquial usage the adjectives are not required if the meaning and/or intent is already clear from the context.

The most common usage of "wayang" when it is used to refer to puppet is in reference to a leather puppet, strictly, the leather puppet should be referred to as "wayang kulit", but because in Indonesian a leather puppet will be intended to be understood 99.9% of the time, it is common practice to drop the adjective "kulit" when referring to a puppet.

If we go to the glossary of Kinney's "Worshipping Siva & Buddha", which you appear to be drawing upon quite heavily, we find that the meaning of the word "wayang" is given as:-

"wayang (kulit) Javanese shadow play with leather puppets (kulit means "leather" in Javanese) "

So even here we see the meaning of "wayang" given as "shadow play", and when the adjective "kulit" is added, we have "shadow play with leather puppets".

Perhaps Gustav, you can now understand that that your characterisation of my understanding is in fact quite erroneous.

The Common Man

I wrote the above earlier this morning, over coffee, whilst I was having breakfast. Later in the morning I had two visitors, both native speakers of Javanese, now living in Australia, one is a retired accountant, the other is a retired public servant, neither of these people is an artistic nor culturally aligned person, both just ordinary people getting on with their lives and more interested in soap operas and yesterday's game of golf, than in shadow plays than the traditional culture of Jawa.

Because I'd just finished writing the above, wayang & etc was at the front of my mind, so I ran a question past them:-

"Tell me, if I say the word "wayang" to you, what is the thought that comes into your mind?"

Both gave answers in the same vein, one said, more or less:-

"Wayang? Just by itself? Impossible, what is the rest of the sentence? My first thought is just who is the wayang? Who is being manipulated?"

The other person said:- "That's just somebody standing there, doing nothing, waiting to be told what to do"

This was the way these two people thought of the word "wayang", a puppet, somebody who is manipulated and ordered around by somebody else. I should have remembered this when I was writing the above. To many people in the higher classes, and many people who are grass roots Javanese, the wayang is an integral part of their lives, but to ordinary middle class people who one might say are culturally unconscious, the wayang is part of another world, these people think of the word "wayang" as a derogatory description of somebody who is manipulated. For example, many politicians are referred to as "wayang".

There is perhaps a very timely message in this.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 9th September 2019 at 03:58 AM.
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Old 15th September 2019, 12:40 PM   #17
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Alan, thank you once more - actually I understand quite well all you have written in your last posts - I would say, it's the basic knowledge for somebody, who is really interested in Wayang.

Once more - the reason why all this started is my fundamental problem to understand just your sentence:

"This is where the problem arises, because it seems probable that the comic nature of the wayang panakawans did not arise until wayang golek was replaced by wayang purwa in the 15th century in Demak, the replacement occurred because of Raden Patah's prohibition that applied to the wayang golek puppets."

Please correct me if I am wrong -

Wayang Golek in context of Wayang is a PUPPET constructed in a specific style from specific materials.

Wayang Purwa IS NOT A PUPPET, in context of Wayang it is a certain repertoire, a compendium of stories (presented using puppets or dancers, as per Zoetmulder, who forgets Wayang Beber). How can a puppet be replaced by a repertoire? This is my first problem with your sentence.

My second problem - the Wayang Purwa repertoire is the main repertoire of Wayang. It absolutely surely existed in Majapahit and before Majapahit. Why should Raden Patah replace something (you write Wayang Golek, a puppet style) with a repertoire (Wayang Purwa), which was ancient already in Raden Patah's time, was anyway the main repertoire and moreover deals with non-Islamic themes?

My third problem: I have not seen any academic publication, in fact no publication, which would mention Wayang Golek puppet style before Raden Patah's time, in Raden Patah's time, and at about a century after Raden Patah's time. Nothing similar to Wayang Golek is known on Bali (except for 4 modern performances between 1995 and 1998), which most probably would be the case if Wayang Golek or some kind of "puppets in the round", as you write, would have existed in Majapahit. There seems to be an general agreement that Wayang Golek with a quite big certainty originated in West Java and specifically in Cirebon, the puppet construction style is close to Chinese puppet construction style and the big part of repertoire played with these puppets is Islamic/deals with Islamisation of Java.

I hope I explained my thoughts clearly this time.
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Old 15th September 2019, 09:42 PM   #18
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Gustav, I must admit I do have more than a little bit of difficulty in understanding your motives in pursuing this matter. I will try to satisfy you once more, but in reality, I believe I have already answered your questions in this most recent post of yours in my own previous posts. But I'll try again, hopefully with a little more success this time.

Wayang golek can mean "golek puppet", and it can also mean "golek puppet performance"; "wayang" can be used in many ways, in the context of a wayang performance it must be understood as "performance".

The same is true of "wayang purwa":- "wayang purwa" can be understood as "the puppet theatre repertoire that includes stories from the very beginning", or it can be understood as:- "a puppet theatre performance that draws upon the repertoire of stories from the very beginning".

In the passage that you quote, I was writing about performances, which I believe is obvious.

The Javanese language is like unto English in that a word can be understood in a number of ways, depending upon context.

Your second problem.
There are a number of beliefs that surround the Raden Patah prohibition, and it is not likely that we will ever know the complete accurate details of the prohibition and its eventual lifting. Some things that should be considered are that Raden Patah (AKA Jin Bun, AKA Cek Ko Po) had Chinese blood lines, and that the Muslim population on North Coast Jawa in the 15th century was made up principally of Chinese traders.

Another thing that we need to consider is that the early leather puppets were believed to be heavily ornamented with paint and possibly with moveable parts. Men watched the puppets from the dalang side of the screen, women from the shadow side of the screen.

Raden Patah was not born Muslim, he converted to Islam, and as with many new converts to a religion he became a little extreme in his views. So although some people say it was the Muslim clerics who wanted the bans, others say that Raden Patah himself wanted the bans and the clerics found a way around these bans, principally because they wanted to use the wayang (theatre) for religious propaganda.

So what is believed to have happened is that new puppets were devised that were painted black, and were without moving parts, it then took another couple of hundred years for the style of the puppets, and for the manner in which they were watched, to come back to what had been usual prior to Raden Patah.

Now Gustav, you must understand, what I am relating here is based upon conversations with people whom I believe know more than I do about the wayang. As I have repeatedly said, any slight knowledge I may have of the wayang has not been acquired through books or study, I have very little interest in the wayang, and no interest at all in adding to the slight knowledge I already have. A somewhat similar situation to my knowledge of the ballet of the Western World:- I am completely uninterested in ballet, it bores me, I do have a little bit of knowledge of ballet, but that is due to the fact that I have a couple of relatives who are ballet teachers and ex-performers. Ballet, wayang, for me both these performing arts do not register on my list of things to spend time on.

Now, your second problem seems to need an explanation of the actions taken by Raden Patah in respect of wayang performances. I cannot give you a verifiable explanation, and frankly I seriously doubt that anybody alive today can. You have the interest in this, you obviously enjoy what you have read, so go the texts and form your own opinion. It is likely to be just as valid as any opinion I that may have.

Your third problem.
Gustav, just one more time:- I am coming at this entire wayang matter from a different direction to your own. Anything I have written is based on popular belief and the belief of working dalangs. That belief may be more or less accurate, or it might not be so. I don't care either way. I'm not interested.

What I do know is this:- it is not my part in any interaction with Javanese people to try to teach them that their cultural beliefs are incorrect, thus, what they may care to tell me, I accept, if I disagree I keep it to myself. If you want people to open up and talk to you, you do not set yourself up as an authority and try to teach them things that you, yourself only half understand.

In effect, your "Third Problem" is no problem at all:- you have your own sources of information, and you can form your own opinions. There is no problem. I am absolutely uninterested in trying to get you to accept my opinions, my opinions are for use in speaking with and interacting with a lot of people with whom I have social and family intercourse with every day. My opinions are of no use to you.

Gustav, I do appreciate that you have a deep knowledge of and interest in the Javanese puppet theatre, I most gently suggest that if you wish to continue conversation that involves this form of the performing arts, that you would be well advised to seek out somebody who has a similar deep interest in this subject, because I have very little interest. I am aware that there are some discussion groups centered around the puppet theatre in general, perhaps one of these groups might be a better place for you to continue discussion of the wayang?
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Old 16th September 2019, 10:17 AM   #19
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Alan, the reason why I was enquiring about this excerpt:

when you write about things concerning Majapahit, you usually choose an academic approach, quoting academic writers, dictionaries etc. That gives an academic "weight" to your thought and it's impressive in a non-academical forum like ours.

The excerpt about which I was enquiring is written in the same academical modus, but the information given in it is a complete nonsense from academical viewpoint.

So it draws from the "knowledge of community".

About the distinction between "puppet", "repertoire" and "performance":

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

In the passage that you quote, I was writing about performances, which I believe is obvious.



It isn't obvious at all, because Wayang Golek as performance is never mentioned there, but the last part of your sentence explicitly mentions "prohibition that applied to the wayang golek puppets."

Even if we see Wayang Golek and Wayang Purwa as performance - the statement nevertheless stays a nonsense, even from non-academical viewpoint. If this certain kind of puppet was the nightmare of Raden Patah, it makes no sense to replace the performance using a certain kind of puppets with a performance of a certain repertoire.
It's desirable and possible to replace it with a performance using another certain kind of puppets, or dancers, etc.

Now I have got my answers and won't bother anybody with my enquiries about Wayang for some time.
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Old 16th September 2019, 01:35 PM   #20
A. G. Maisey
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Gustav, I do deeply regret that my writing is so difficult for you to understand, please accept my most sincere apologies for this inadequacy, most especially so, as I have said nothing different in my last post than I have said in various ways in my preceding posts.

In my own defence, I did try very hard to explain the ways in which the word "wayang" can be understood, so I suspect that this entire rather ridiculous series of exchanges between us actually comes down to a simple matter of confusion in respect of language.

You have made me very disappointed in my own attempts to convey information. In this Forum I strive to write in what I consider to be a "conversational" style, a style of writing that tries to convey in text the way in which I would speak if we were all sitting in a big circle, face to face. I do try to the best of my ability to avoid the use of any faux academic approach, and in fact, I doubt that any objective assessment of my writing style could ever legitimately place it into the "academic" box. In fact, we are all just hobbyists putting forward our own experiences and opinions with, I assume, the objective of sharing those opinions & experiences with others of a similar mind.

In respect of the content of my posts to this present thread, and that you seem to consider have been written in an "academic" style, but that contain comments that you categorise as "a complete nonsense", well, I can only agree with you, if in fact you mistook my casual, relaxed, conversational approach as an "academic" style of writing, which it very clearly is not. I do admit, under pressure, that I have done my share, and perhaps more than my share of writing intended for academic use, and I assure you, the standards that must be met for this style of writing are much more stringent than the putting into text of a relaxed after dinner chat.

In any case, it appears that at last you are satisfied with the result of this rather amusing discussion, and I do hope that you can benefit from all that you have gained.
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Old 17th September 2019, 11:51 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

In my own defence, I did try very hard to explain the ways in which the word "wayang" can be understood, so I suspect that this entire rather ridiculous series of exchanges between us actually comes down to a simple matter of confusion in respect of language.



It is not a confusion in respect of language, as this odd sentence stays without sense no matter how you turn it. I have done my utmost in explaining why it has no sense and I obviously have failed.
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Old 17th September 2019, 12:52 PM   #22
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As you wish Gustav.
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Old 17th September 2019, 04:01 PM   #23
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Gentlemen.
I do appreciate that both of you have managed to keep the contentious discuss on Wayang civil and orderly. As i am sure both of you realize, it seems we have reached the point where you both must agree to disagree and simply move on. While i am a strong believer that keris cannot be discussed in a vacuum and that other aspects of the surrounding culture are in fact integral to the understanding of the keris itself, i do feel that it is now time to leave this discussion of Wayang behind and return to discussion that is more immediately focussed on the keris itself. Thank you both for this very enlightening discussion though. It has been very interesting.

Last edited by David : 18th September 2019 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 18th September 2019, 08:26 AM   #24
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David,
I feel that you meant that "it is now time to leave this discussion..." and I fully agree with you
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Old 18th September 2019, 07:09 PM   #25
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Quote:
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David,
I feel that you meant that "it is now time to leave this discussion..." and I fully agree with you

Yes Jean, thanks! I am sure my finger fully intended to hit that "w". LOL!
I'll fix it.
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