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Semar Panel in teak


F008 detail

Semar is the Javanese God that became an important part of the Indian Mahabharata and Ramayana cycles. Semar is neither male nor female, is short and fat and ugly, and has tears constantly dripping from his eyes, and snot rolling out of his nose. He knows everything and cannot be defeated, even by Syiwa or by Durga. Semar is also a village chief, and he is in the service of the Pandava brothers (if it is in Mahabharata) or of Rama (if it is in Ramayana).

Semar is a Panakawan, a clown-servant-guide-God, and was born at the same time of the universe. His most powerful weapon is his fart, and when he passes wind even the gods of heaven take notice. In Java, Semar is undoubtedly the most popular wayang character, and a lot has been written about Semar and his wisdom, by Indonesian and Western scholars.

This particular panel of Semar appears to be made by a Semar lover for his own amusement. He was probably inspired by the shape of the teak cutting, and carved the figure in to hang on his wall to bring good luck. The Javanese script on the left top and bottom corner, read SE and MAR. The colour yellow of Semarís body indicates that here Semar is attending at the palace. In the woods of inn battle, Semar is painted black. This piece of original folk art was probably carved mid 20th century.


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