Wayang Kulit (leather puppet) and Jawa

The island of Java, local people calls it Java since the ancient time. The name of Indonesia did not exist yet at that time. Since a long time ago, island of Java is exceptionally beautiful and fertile with pleasant climate. This condition has made the island to be comfortably to live in, this is the island of gods. This might be true. The Javanese people in Javanese language are (they have graded language: alus means soft and polite to be used when speaking with elder men or respected people and kasar or rough to be used by common people).
Tiyang from Ti Hyang (alus)
Uwong from Wahong (kasar)
Both have same meaning, the descendants of gods.

According to wayang kulit stories and some people believe that the first kings or rulers in ancient Jawa were gods themselves descending from kahyangan (Heaven Kingdom). Java was almost uninhibited.

The first kingdom in Java was Medhang Kamulan (kamulan from mula beginning) means a man who has begun to create life existance. The location of Medhang Kamulan was in the mountain of Mahendra (now, Gunung/ Mount Lawu) in the border of Surakarta and Madiun regencies. The king was S.H. Guru himself descended from Kahyangan, his name was Sri Paduka raja Mahadewa. He moved his kingdom to Mount Gede in Bogor, West Java, with his assistant Narada, as Patih (chief minister). In Mount Gede, the court ranking were :

1. King
2. Patih
3. Brahmana (priest)
4. Senopati (chief warrior)
5. Jaksa (judge)

Then he moved back to Lawu. He began to construct his palace with building imitating the ones in kahyangan. For cultural entertainment he created gamelan (Javanese music instruments) by the name of Lokananta to accompany gods while they were dancing (beksan).

To guard his palace, he assigned two giants to stand in front of the entrance gate. Their names were Cingkarabala and Balaupata (nowadays, the Karatons in Java have giant statues with same names to be placed in front of the entrance gates).

The heirloom master, he was also a god or Jawata (also means the teacher of Javanese people), Empu Ramadi or Ramayadhi were instructed by king Mahadewa (Guru) to make heirlooms for gods, such as keris (dagger), cakra, arrows, etc. Up to now, Empu Ramadi was considered as the first Keris maker in Java.

After several years ruled in Java, Guru returned to kahyangan. He sent five of his sons to rule in several places :

1. God or Sang Hyang (S.H.) Sambo in the kingdom of Medhangprawa (Mount Rajabasa) in Sumatra. His name was Sri Maharaja (S.M.) Maldewa.
2. S.H. Brahma in Medhang Gili in Mount Mahera (Anyer) by the name of S.M. Sunda. That's why the people of West Java are called Tiyang (people) of Sunda.
3. S.H. Endra in Mount Mahameru (now, Mount Semeru - East Java) by the name of S.M. Sakra. The kingdom was Medhang Gana.
4. S.H. Wisnu in Mount Gora (now, Mount Slamet, nearby Tegal Central Java, the kingdom was Medhang Puro, his name was S.M. Suman).
5. S.H. Bayu in Mount Karang (Bali). His name was S.M. Bimo of the kingdom of Medhang Gora.

He sent also several dewas to become Penditas and that was the beginning of Darma (religious) teaching in Java, the local name was Pranata Gama (organizing of religious teaching).


Audience among gods
(right to left : Guru, Kamajaya, Narada, Wisnu & Yamadipati)

Semar (S.H.) Ismoyo the elder brother of guru, he himself become Ponokawan and he sent nine sons to become Pendita in Mount Lawu to strengthen the pranata Gama in Java.

The five divine kings they enjoyed dancing accompanied by gamelan Lokananta. After the dancing, they spread art of self-defense, gave lessons of some supernatural power. They enjoyed living in Java, especially Wisnu who married with Dewi Pratiwi (goddess of earth). Thus, their descendants become rulers of Java.

Batara Kala from time to time disrupted the peaceful life in Java, making trouble to others. Kala was afraid of Wisnu and Semar, several times he had been defeated in battles. When someone is careless, he could be easily be victim of Kala. Many people up to present date make Slametan (slamet : safe and sound) such as food offerings called 'Ruwatan' to protect from Kala's disturbance.

Batara Endra had instructed the planting of two waringin (banyan) trees in front of the Palace Square like in Kahyangan. The Kalpataru, by the name of Dewandaru and Jayadaru. This also could be seen nowadays in Javanese Karatons.

Bedaya, at present is a sacred court dance, performed by seven beautiful ladies, in the ancient time were performed by seven goddesses such as Dewi Supraba, Dewi Wilatama, etc. It was the favorite entertainment of King Dewa Esa (Wisnu) in his kingdom in Parahyangan (the domain of gods), West Java.

Court titles
The sons of gods were called Raden for the male (from Rahadi - Rah means blood or life, adi means precious), - the precious man. The female were called Dewi. This title was also given to the wives of gods.

Mount Merapi
Its name in the old days was Candrageni, north of Yogyakarta. Geni means fire, the fire mountain was dangerous since ancient time. One big explosion occurred, the thunderous voice raised to the sky with burning fire for forty consecutive days. The village on the top of the mountain ruin to ashes, turn to be the crater.

Batara Panyarikan, 'secretary of Guru', descended also in earth, to join Wisnu. Thus in Java, knowledge, art and literature began to develop.

Seeing the above explanation, wayang kulit has a deep root in Java, even become part of their daily life. It is usual that someone's behavior, physical beauty and achievement are compared with those figures in wayang. A beautiful lady is compared to Dewi Supraba. Someone would say, "She is very beautiful like Dewi Supraba". A career and intelligent women should be called Srikandi.

For male, if someone is honest as Yudistira, a handsome man should be praised as Arjuna. A strong young man or an air force officer is called Gatotkaca. A tall, strong, big man is compared with Bima, and a tricky man is like Sengkuni.

People, for instance, do not like greedy and cruel leaders because they are resembled to Rahwana and Duryudana.

A wise man is valued as Kresna. When a man and a woman are in a deep love, as if can not be separated from each others, people would say, "They are a loving couple, like Dewi Ratih (goddess of love) and Batara Kamajaya (god of love).

(Suryo S. Negoro)

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