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- Author unknown
- Date of production 2nd half of the 19th century
- Place of creation Indonesia, Java
- Dimensions height: 48 cm
- ID no. 21513/mek
- Collector object from the collection of Prof. Marian Raciborski
- Acquired date donated in 1917
- Object copyright The Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
Gunungan is one of the most important figures that opens a traditional performance of the Indonesian shadow theatre wayang kulit purwa. It depicts a tree of life representing the five elements making up the universe: earth, air, fire, wind and water. It also symbolises a palace, forest, and sea, as well as the above-ground and underground worlds.more
Gunungan is one of the most important figures that opens a traditional performance of the Indonesian shadow theatre wayang kulit purwa. It depicts a tree of life representing the five elements making up the universe: earth, air, fire, wind and water. It also symbolises a palace, forest, and sea, as well as the above-ground and underground worlds. The tree of life appears many times throughout the entire performance, at the beginning, at the end, and whenever there is a change of action or scene. The puppeteer, who is also the narrator, moves the figure in various ways—imitating a bird's flight, shaking or fluttering, evoking the Universe and introducing individual parts of the play. It appears in two forms: the form of a tree of life or a holy mountain. It is always located in the middle of the screen, separating dolls representing generally good characters on the right side of the screen from the evil characters on the left side. When the leader opens the performance by moving the figure, it is a sign that he climbs the tree of life to the kingdom of the gods. At the same time, he invites the audience to enter this lively world of gods, heroes and animals. Only after such an introduction does the actual story begin.
Open cut buffalo skin, polychrome on both sides; bamboo poles.
Elaborated by the Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków, © all rights reserved