Tag Archives: Gunungan

GUNUNGAN SHADOW PUPPET BACK PIECE

Gunungan

Last week Ade stared lining up a big back-piece he will be working on. This time a very special ‘character’ from the wayang kulit shaddow puppet theatre, called Gunungan.

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GUNUNGAN / KAYON

Gunungan (mountains) or Kayon (tree) / the Cosmic Tree or Mountain of Life is a shadow puppet shaped like a mountain and represents the world and its content. On it you will find carved and painted, mythical symbols and animals. There are two types of Gunungan; on one version you will find the tree standing with his roots in a pond of water, which sometimes contains fish (female qualities) and the other one is one with a big gate guarded by two demon giants. They are the guards of heaven and represent the forces of greed and lust. The gate itself is the gate to heaven or perhaps a gate from the world of reality into the mystical world of the ancestors and the gods. The last one is usually slightly more pointed to represent the male qualities. In the tree you find many animals or fantastic creatures are depicted: a tiger, a bison, peacocks, birds, dragons etc. Resembling concepts such as pride, arrogance, and vanity. Half way up the tree is the big face of an demon, Kala / Raksasa , symbolizing the dangers of human life.

Before the wayang shadow puppet play starts, Gunungan is plugged in the middle of the screen, leaning slightly to the right. This means that the puppet play has not yet begun, like the world that has not yet been ‘opened’. Once the play starts, Gunungan will be moved and lined up on the right. It’s function during the performance is to mark the beginning of each scene.

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Besides that Gunungan is also used as a sign if there are any chances in the play, the stage or the story. Gunungan is also used to symbolize fire or wind. In this case Gunungan is reversed (flipped around) and on that side it reveals a huge demonic face with its tongue hanging out and eyes bulging. It’s consuming flames and fire. They evil energy is unleashed, it consumes and destroys. It’s energy turned negative.

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The Gunungan (the cosmic mountain or Tree of Life) has both practical and highly symbolic functions in the wayang performances. For example Gunungan can also be used to symbolize the jungle, a mountain or the ocean during some scenes of the play. In this case Gunungan can act as soil, jungles, streets and so on, following the dialogue of the puppeteer.

 

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After the play is finished, Gunungan is plugged in again in the middle of the screen, leaning slightly to the left, symbolizing that the story / play has finished.

The Gunungan shadow puppet is not only used in wayang kulit performances but also in wayang golek or klitik shows.

 

Click on the photo’s for a bigger preview!

 

– Lielo

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MARTIN’S SLEEVE

Martin’s arm. This sleeve is a combination of all kind of Javanese and Balinese ornament and images. (Wayang, Mega Mendung, some Aksara Jawa/Hanacaraka, wood carvings from Bali/Middle Java, Gunungan (from shadow puppets play).

Photos and edit by Lielo.

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