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Banowati, wife of Duryodhana (Suryadana) and of Arjuna
Place of Origin: Indonesia, Tegal, Central Java
Date: perhaps 1800-1900
Object Name: wayang golek puppet
Materials: Wood, cloth and mixed media
Dimensions: H. 31 1/2 in x W. 6 in x D. 3 1/2 in, H. 80 cm x W. 15.2 cm x D. 8.8 cm
Credit Line: From The Mimi and John Herbert Collection
Department: Southeast Asian Art
Collection: Theatrical Arts
Object Number: F2000.85.26
On Display: No

Description

Label:

The Mahabharata (The Great Chronicle of the Bharata Dynasty)

Though the stories used in rod-puppet (wayang golek) performances have been derived from many sources, the majority are loosely based on the Indian epic the Mahabharata. This tale revolves around the conflicts between the Pandava brothers and their cousins, the Kaurava brothers, a rivalry that culminates in a devastating battle. The conflicts in this and many of the stories in Javanese puppet theater can be seen as battles between good and evil, but the plots of individual plays suggest a subtle sense of moral ambiguity that mirrors the outside world. As depicted in puppet theater, the heroes of the Mahabharata are not without fault. Likewise, the villains of the stories have complex personalities; many have admirable qualities and struggle with divided loyalties.

Indian stories were often modified for local Javanese audiences, and sometimes new narratives involving beloved characters from the epics were invented. A favorite character in Java is Ghatotkacha, the son of the Pandava brother Bhima and the giantess Hidhimbi. When Hidhimbi is about to become the queen of her realm, her brother, the demon Brajamusti, objects because he does not think women have the right to rule. Brajamusti challenges Hidhimbi, and Ghatotkacha arrives to defend her. Hidhimbi warns Ghatotkacha that he is not yet strong enough to face his uncle. Nonetheless he begins to fight, and ultimately he is rescued by his mother. With a flick of her wrist, Hidhimbi sends Brajamusti flying into the air. (He lands in the kingdom of Astina, where he sees and falls in love with Queen Banowati, setting in motion another episode of the story.) Ghatotkacha eventually gains the strength to conquer his uncle.


Label:

The Mahabharata (The Great Chronicle of the Bharata Dynasty)

Though the stories used in rod-puppet (wayang golek) performances have been derived from many sources, the majority are loosely based on the Indian epic the Mahabharata. This tale revolves around the conflicts between the Pandava brothers and their cousins, the Kaurava brothers, a rivalry that culminates in a devastating battle. The conflicts in this and many of the stories in Javanese puppet theater can be seen as battles between good and evil, but the plots of individual plays suggest a subtle sense of moral ambiguity that mirrors the outside world. As depicted in puppet theater, the heroes of the Mahabharata are not without fault. Likewise, the villains of the stories have complex personalities; many have admirable qualities and struggle with divided loyalties.

Indian stories were often modified for local Javanese audiences, and sometimes new narratives involving beloved characters from the epics were invented. A favorite character in Java is Ghatotkacha, the son of the Pandava brother Bhima and the giantess Hidhimbi. When Hidhimbi is about to become the queen of her realm, her brother, the demon Brajamusti, objects because he does not think women have the right to rule. Brajamusti challenges Hidhimbi, and Ghatotkacha arrives to defend her. Hidhimbi warns Ghatotkacha that he is not yet strong enough to face his uncle. Nonetheless he begins to fight, and ultimately he is rescued by his mother. With a flick of her wrist, Hidhimbi sends Brajamusti flying into the air. (He lands in the kingdom of Astina, where he sees and falls in love with Queen Banowati, setting in motion another episode of the story.) Ghatotkacha eventually gains the strength to conquer his uncle.