Sunday, April 6, 2008

Can You Identify These Puppets? Part II

Last summer, I asked my readers if they could identify two Javanese Wayang Kulit puppets I had acquired at a yard sale.

So far we have had a number of opinions, but still no definitive identification of our two figures, other than a consensus that they are Javanese and not Balinese in origin (which is what the seller informed me)-- one anonymous poster identifies them as being specific to Central Java.

The first figure, who has a red face, an elaborate headdress and a gold body certainly seems to be of noble or royal office, but we are still no closer to putting a name to him. One friend of mine suggested that he was Rāvana from the Rāmāyaṇa but that contradicts the seller's statement that both figures were from the Mahãbhãrata. Indeed the previously cited anonymous poster suggested:

the first charachter might be Baladewa [...] definitely not Ravana.

Of Baladewa, I know nothing, and of whom I have yet to find an English language reference-- I do not even know if he goes by another name.

The second, smaller, blue figure was clearly of a lower status than the more elaborately dressed figure, and I was eager to assume that he was one of the comical figures of the Wayang known as punokawan but my anonymous poster seems vehemently opposed to that hypothesis.

The second (the blue guy) is definitely NOT a punakawan.

Once again, can any reader identify these puppets? How can one know that they are one figure and not another of similar status? I would so like to know their names so that I can learn their stories.

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