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Kayon (Gunungan)

Gunungan (literally, mouontain) is a wayang puppet carved in the shape of a mountain.1) At the base of the puppet is a large gate guarded by two raksasas (ogres) each holding a sword and shield. This gate marks the main entrance to a palace and the gunungan is used in specific scenes to represent a palace. Above the gate is a large tree entwined by a large serpent and populated with various kinds of animals. The puppet can also be used to represent a forest or jungle.
According to tradition the gunungan is a symbol of the universe and all its contents. Before the wayang performance begins, the gunungan is planted in the banana log in the center of the screen, leaning to the right. This is an indication that the lakon (play) has not yet begun, that the earth’s story has yet to be told. When the performance begins, the gunungan is removed from the center and planted at the right side of the screen.2)
The gunungan is also used to indicate changes of scene within the story, in which case it is planted in the center of the screen. It can be used to indicate the blowing of wind, by moving it rapidly to and fro while revolving it. It can also be used to represent fire in generally the same manner as the movements for wind, though the puppet is reversed revealing huge red flames painted on the back (as well as a demon’s head sometimes), though this difference is only noticeable from the back of the screen. The puppet is also used to indicate a dense forest during the perampogan scene.3)
At the end of the performance the gunungan is returned to its original position in the center of the screen as a sign that the play has ended.
When the gunungan is used to divide scenes, it is plancted in the center of the screen and the dalang narrates, interpreting the meaning of what has just happened and describing the scene which is about to begin. Thus it is left to the imagination of the audience to conjure up the scenes which are described by the dalang. A skilful dalang is able to make his listeners forget themselves and immerse them totally in the world of the story.

Created: 2014

Source Rights: Ki Purbo Asmoro

Manuscript Code: LF-Kayon (Gunungan).sm_P5028923.jpg

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