AN INDONESIAN WAYANG KULIT SHADOW PUPPET OF THE KAYON GAPURAN AND TWO THAI NANG YAI FIGURAL SHADOW PUPPETS
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EASTERN EUROPEAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION
Indonesia and Thailand, 19th and 20th centuries
Comprising an Indonesian kayon gapuran shadow puppet, in the shape of a large arrowhead or flame, with a sharp pointy top and rounded lower edges, made of leather painted with opaque pigments, white wash and gold, one side decorated with a pair of Door Guardians (dvarpalas), three dragons, and wild animals, the back with a large monstrous face with sharp fangs, bulging red eyes, and flames around the head, depicting either a kirtimukha or a local folklore demon, possibly an autochthonous variant of the Hindu God of Destructions Maha Kala, the layout of the animals and dragons' bodies in the front pierced, the banner mounted on a long and tapering wooden handle running through its centre, 107cm long; and two Thai nang yai shadow puppets, made of painted buffalo hide, one presenting an apsara or heavenly being, the latter a village woman, the largest 52.5cm.
The Kayon Gapuran is a typical banner used in all-night shadow puppet performance to represent the gate between the audience chamber and the inner palace, as well as the gate between heaven and hell. In the first scene of a traditional all-night shadow puppet performance, it usually gets placed behind the king. For Javanese people, this puppet presents a strong connection with life (the tree in the middle being a stylisation of the Tree of Life) and the image of the gate is a metaphor of the rite of passage from life to death (Joko Susilo, "Eisler Shadow-Puppet Collection Catalogue", 2004, Scholarship and Research. 1., http://scarab.bates.edu/music_research/1, p. 144, last accessed 16/03/2022).
Sold for £188
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