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Hanuman (Hanoman), monkey hero of the Ramayana
Place of Origin: Indonesia, West Java
Date: approx. 1960
Object Name: Wayang golek puppet
Materials: Wood, cloth and mixed media
Dimensions: H. 26 1/2 in x W. 9 7/8 in x D. 6 1/4 in, H. 67.3 cm x W. 25.1 cm x D. 15.9 cm
Credit Line: From The Mimi and John Herbert Collection
Department: Southeast Asian Art
Collection: Theatrical Arts
Object Number: F2000.86.160
On Display: No

Description

Label: Characters from the Epic Ramayana

The plays of Indonesian puppet theater (wayang) are largely derived from two Indian epics, the Ramayana (Epic of Rama) and the Mahabharata (Great Chronicle of the Bharata Dynasty). In both the Indian and the Indonesian version of the story, Rama, the seventh incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, descends to earth to protect it from the demon Ravana. The story revolves around Ravana's kidnapping of Rama's wife, Sita, and the efforts of Rama and his monkey army to retrieve her.

Rama is exiled and leaves his realm with his wife and his brother Lakshmana to live in the forest. The female demon Shurpanakha, Ravana's sister, learns of their presence and tries to seduce both Rama and Lakshmana. After being rejected, Shurpanakha tells Ravana of Sita's whereabouts, and he plans to kidnap her. Using a golden deer, Ravana lures Rama and Lakshmana away from Sita. Then, disguised as a beggar, Ravana approaches Sita. Although she is protected by a magic circle, she reaches outside it and Ravana snatches her up. On the back of his birdlike mount Wilmana, Ravana flies with Sita to his island of Lanka. The heroic bird Jatayus, an ally of Rama, witnesses the abduction and tries to save Sita, but is fatally wounded.

From the dying Jatayus, Rama learns of the Sita's abduction to Lanka. He eventually enlists the aid of a monkey army to help him find his wife. Led by the heroic white monkey Hanuman, the army builds a causeway to the island. Rama and his monkey troops meet Ravana and his armies. The monkeys must battle Ravana's brother (Kumbhakarna, a giant) and son (Indrajita), before Ravana himself is finally killed.

More Information

Exhibition History: "The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe," Asian Art Museum, October 21, 2015–January 15, 2017
Additional Label:

In both Javanese traditions of puppet theater, shadow puppets and three-dimensional rod puppets, Hanuman appears as a white monkey with an upturned headdress and long curling tail. This rod puppet shows a late innovation of carving the monkey’s tail from wood like the rest of the body, and positioning it looped across the chest. Earlier puppets would have a tail made from a tube of cloth pulled up and sewn to the back of the headdress.

Most of the Javanese puppeteers and their audiences are Muslim, but stories of the adventures of Rama remain popular.

(Exhibition Label from The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe)


Label: Characters from the Epic Ramayana

The plays of Indonesian puppet theater (wayang) are largely derived from two Indian epics, the Ramayana (Epic of Rama) and the Mahabharata (Great Chronicle of the Bharata Dynasty). In both the Indian and the Indonesian version of the story, Rama, the seventh incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, descends to earth to protect it from the demon Ravana. The story revolves around Ravana's kidnapping of Rama's wife, Sita, and the efforts of Rama and his monkey army to retrieve her.

Rama is exiled and leaves his realm with his wife and his brother Lakshmana to live in the forest. The female demon Shurpanakha, Ravana's sister, learns of their presence and tries to seduce both Rama and Lakshmana. After being rejected, Shurpanakha tells Ravana of Sita's whereabouts, and he plans to kidnap her. Using a golden deer, Ravana lures Rama and Lakshmana away from Sita. Then, disguised as a beggar, Ravana approaches Sita. Although she is protected by a magic circle, she reaches outside it and Ravana snatches her up. On the back of his birdlike mount Wilmana, Ravana flies with Sita to his island of Lanka. The heroic bird Jatayus, an ally of Rama, witnesses the abduction and tries to save Sita, but is fatally wounded.

From the dying Jatayus, Rama learns of the Sita's abduction to Lanka. He eventually enlists the aid of a monkey army to help him find his wife. Led by the heroic white monkey Hanuman, the army builds a causeway to the island. Rama and his monkey troops meet Ravana and his armies. The monkeys must battle Ravana's brother (Kumbhakarna, a giant) and son (Indrajita), before Ravana himself is finally killed.
Exhibition History: "The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe," Asian Art Museum, October 21, 2015–January 15, 2017
Expanded Label:

In both Javanese traditions of puppet theater, shadow puppets and three-dimensional rod puppets, Hanuman appears as a white monkey with an upturned headdress and long curling tail. This rod puppet shows a late innovation of carving the monkey’s tail from wood like the rest of the body, and positioning it looped across the chest. Earlier puppets would have a tail made from a tube of cloth pulled up and sewn to the back of the headdress.

Most of the Javanese puppeteers and their audiences are Muslim, but stories of the adventures of Rama remain popular.

(Exhibition Label from The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe)