Tag Archives: Mythical

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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LEGEND OF RATU KIDUL – QUEEN OF THE SOUTHERN SEA OF JAVA

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In the last days I finally found some time to study more about Ratu Kidul, the queen of the Southern Sea of Java. A legend from Indonesia that fascinates me already for over years. Because it’s such a known and ancient legend and there’s many different stories going around about her in Indonesia, I decided to stick to the stories and the place that’s the most familiar to me.

5 years ago I heard about this old mysterious story for the first time during my visit to Parang Tritis, an area on the southern coast of Java in the Bantul Regency, about 30 km south of Yogyakarta. When I arrived at the Hotel Queen of the South – Puri Ratu Kidul for some drinks, we decided to take the big climb down the cliff to walk on the beach.

Before I tried to climb down my friends directly stopped me and checked me if I was not accidentally wearing any green or blue clothing. Kinda surprised I asked them, if that would be a problem? They told me ‘Because otherwise the Queen of the South Sea will get angry and will drag you into the sea and make you serve like her slave!‘ Wow, that kinda shocked me and I instantly wanted to know more about this mysterious lady!

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Kanjeng Ratu Kidul 

She is a legendary Indonesian female spirit or deity, known as the Queen of the Southern Sea of Java (Indian Ocean or Samudra Kidul south of Java island) in Javanese and Sundanese mythology. The origin of these stories is hard to find but could go back to around the year 1300, more then 700 years ago.

She goes under many names which reflect the diverse stories of her origin in a lot of sagas, legends, myths and traditional folklore. Other names include, Nyai Roro Kidul, Ratu Laut SelatanGusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, Kanjeng Ratu Ayu Kencono Sari etc. In this post I stick to the name that I know out of my own experience, Ratu Kidul. 

If she has to be seen as a goddess or more as a ghost depends a bit on religious beliefs. For example in the Islamic society of Indonesia, she’s more seen as a ghost who is immortal. And in Bali they more see her as an appearance of Durga, so in their eyes, she is seen as a goddess. And according to Javanese beliefs, she is also the mythical spiritual consort and protector of the Sultans of Mataram and Yogyakarta, beginning with Senopati and continuing to the present day.

She is often illustrated as a mermaid with a tail as well the lower part of the body of a snake or a fish. They say she claimed to take the soul of any who she wished for. And the local people believe that the Queen often claims lives of fishermen or visitors that bathe on the beach and that she usually prefers handsome young men. Anybody who respects her and brings her offerings she will protect.

 

Parangtritis Beach  & Hotel Queen of the South

Many Javanese people believe that Parang Tritis Beach is the gate of Ratu Kidul’s magical kingdom.

On top of the cliff at the beach, there’s a beautiful 5 star hotel which is named after the Ratu Kidul and which even holds a bungalow, reserved especially for her! You can find the bungalow 033 in the back of the garden, from the porch in the front you directly look at the sea. In the living / dining room there’s a bed with green sheets, under the bed are green sandals. In the corner of the bed, a pot with sand to burn incense sticks. And in front of the bed a dressings table with mirrors and a lot of make up. So Ratu Kidul and one of her lovers could spend the night here.

Room_Ratu_KidulPhoto by an unknown visitor.

 

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Note; I never visited this bungalow myself and I’m not 100% sure if it’s still there due to a big earth quake around 2008 when the hotel was completely destroyed. Last time when I was there (October, 2014) the hotel was completely rebuild and looking beautiful again, but I’m not sure if the bungalow is still there. What I know is that the bungalow is not always open for public, you have to request it if you want to see it (just like the other rooms reserved for Ratu Kidul in Indonesia, like the one in Hotel Samudra at Pelabuhan Ratu) Probably the queen preferred to spend more time at Parang Kusomo at the beach of Parang Tritis. A walled space with 2 stone blocks as thrones. One for the Sultan & one for Ratu Kidul. In that holy place, offerings and prayers are made every day.

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Photo’s made by our friend, Joel Kiel, during our trip to Parang Tritis in October, 2014. 

 

Parang Tritis is just a place that I keep coming back to, where I really love to be and make long walks on the beach. Still a very calm, non-touristic mystical place. I can’t wait to return!

– Lielo

 

 

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BARONG BALI / NIGEL DE JONG

Ade

There’s one thing that we can never say no to and those are these kind of beautiful Indonesian artifacts! Whenever we find a nice Javanese / Balinese mask in the thrift store or find a beautiful Barong statue at a Pasar Malam we háve to take them home. Our little house is slowly turning into an Indonesian museum, but it’s just so much fun to adopt these beautiful items! Above here in the photo you can see on the left, Boma, a Balinese protector/beast. The story tells that once he was a very powerful and destructive earth demon. In the ancient story, Mahabarata, Boma became a great champion and a defender against evil. You can find him above  most doorways, and above the entrance of temples and palaces in Southern Bali, mostly decorated with fresh flowers put behind his ears. His hands spread out to scare off the negative spirits. He’s regarded as being very strong and being able to overcome obstacles physical and mystical. In South Bali, Boma is always depicted with three curls of rock ornaments on top of his head and a bow of flowers. The other mask you see on the right is a Balinese dragon (Naga) wall mask and only used as decoration, to find the exact meaning of this mask is a bit more difficult. He’s part of the many dragon characters found in Bali. In the great story Mahabharata, Nagas are tending towards the negative. They call them “persecutors of all creatures” and tells us “the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of strength, and ever bent on biting other creatures”. But at some points within the story, Nagas are important players, frequently no more evil nor deceitful than the other characters in the story and sometimes on the side of good. They mostly show Nagas as having a mix of human and serpent-like habits.

Barong in Bali

It is unclear where the Barong is originated, however it is generally accepted that a barong is a physical manifestation of a protective spirit which guards people from evil influences. In Bali, it dates back to ancient, pre-Hindu times when animism was the most popular form of belief. It is believed that a Barong is powerful enough to guard an entire village with the main task of driving away the demons known in Balinese as Bhuta-kala. Barong come in many different shapes and sizes. Most are representations of animals such as lion-tigers (barong ket), elephants (barong gajah), tigers (barong macan), pigs (barong bangkal), barong sai (Chinese lions), barong buntut (solo/tailless barong), ravens (barong guak), goats (barong kambing), bulls (barong lembu), horses (barong jaran), or moose (barong rusa). Rare Barong are: gaint human puppets called Barong Landung (Landung means tall in Balinese), giant characters called Barong dawang-dawang  or Barong brutuk (in Trunyan). Barong ket are the most commonly seen Barong in ceremonies and tourist performances throughout Bali. Their dance is also the most developed. Most Barong are danced by two dancers, one at the front head piece, the other at the back tail section, giving the creature four feet. The ones with two feet such as Barong tunggal, Barong bangkal and Barong landung are all danced by one single dancer. Barong are decorated with hair or feathers depending on what village they come from. The magical power of the barong is said to be concentrated in its beard, which is customarily made from human hair. The belief in its magical power is so strong that if a village is struck by an epidemic, a priest is ordered to soak the beard in a glass of clean water to make holy water. This holy water is used to bring the village out of the epidemic. For certain ceremonies, many barong will be gathered together to be purified. There is even a temple in Bualu, Nusa Dua named Barong-barong Temple. Barong are magically very special to most Balinese and their powers are taken very seriously.

And after a successful football match last Friday between  Spain vs. The Netherlands we received a nice promotional photo of Nigel de Jong with his healed tattoos by Ade. Follow Nigel on Instagram for more snapshots out of his everyday life! http://www.instragram.com/ndjofficial

Good luck against Australia on Wednesday guys!

– Lielo & Ade Itameda

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THAI NAGA HALF SLEEVE

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Nāga themed half sleeve on left arm. 

Garuda themed half sleeve on right arm.

This is the result of a great project about the ancient characters Garuda & Naga. Showing above is the left arm with the Naga theme. The right arm is posted on this blog before and has a Garuda theme. This was a quite challenging project for me because I never drew a dragon before in my life. This is my first dragon, sounds weird, but it’s true. We choose to use the Thai dragon called Naga and surrounded it with Thai ornaments based on traditional Thai carvings. The customer wanted to have a contrast between the left arm and the right arm. To learn more about the Thai dragons I had to find some books telling me a little bit more of the stories behind these ancient characters. I found out these stories are incredibly complicated. Both of these characters appear in as well Buddhism and Hinduism mythology. I focussed on the Buddism interpetation of the Garuda (Even the stories about Garuda of Hinduism & Buddhism have similarities). I’m always amazed about the Thai ornaments and carvings found on temples and houses. Great piece to work on! More of this!

– Ade Itameda

A little bit more about Garuda & Nāga:

In Buddhist mythology, the Garuda are enormous predatory birds with intelligence and social organization. Another name for the Garuda is Suparṇa which means “well-winged, having good wings”. Like the Nāga, they combine the characteristics of animals and divine beings. They don’t know the exact size of the Garuda, but they say that his wings have a span of many ‘miles’ wide. They also say that when a Garuda’s wings flap, they create hurricane-like winds that darken the sky and blow down houses. A human being is so small compared to a Garuda that a man can hide in the plumage of one without being noticed. They are also capable of tearing up entire banyan trees from their roots and carrying them off. They also have the ability to grow large or small, and to appear and disappear at will. The Garuda have kings and cities and at least some of them have the magical power of changing into human form when they wish to have dealings with people.

The Garuda are enemies to the Nāga, a race of intelligent serpent or dragon-like beings, whom they hunt. The Garuda at one time caught the Nāga by seizing them by their heads; but the Nāga learned that by swallowing large stones, they could make themselves too heavy to be carried by the Garuda, wearing them out and killing them from exhaustion. The Buddhist Nāga generally has the form of a great cobra-like snake, usually with a single head but sometimes with many. At least some of the Nāga are capable of using magic powers to transform themselves to look human just like Garuda. In Buddhist painting, the Nāga is sometimes portrayed as a human being with a snake or dragon extending over his head. They believe that Nāga live on Mount Sumeru, among the other minor deities, and in various parts of the human-inhabited earth. Some of them are live in the water, in streams or lakes and others are living in the earth, in underground caverns.

As you might know, the Mekong is one of the longest rivers in Southeast Asia. The legend of the Nāga is a strong and sacred belief held by Thai and Lao people living along this river. Many pay their respects to the river because they believe the Nāga still rule in it, and locals hold an annual sacrifice for the Nāga. Each ceremony depends on how each village earns its living from the Mekong River. For instance, through fishing or transport. Local residents believe that the Nāga can protect them from danger, so they are likely to make a sacrifice to Nāga before taking a boat trip along the Mekong River.

 

All these tattoo designs are custom made by Ade Itameda and created uniquely for each client and made by modern tattoo machines. They are based on personal ideas/symbols of his clients.  None of these designs will be re-used again. 

Copyright © Ade Itameda 2012. All rights reserved.

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