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North Central Java Child on Naga



Naga's often appear in Javanese folklore, sometimes as forces of good and sometimes as forces of evil, but always as a strong, earth force of nature. The Naga appears in stories that have been added on to the Mahabharata cycle of stories and also appears in local legends. The most beloved Naga in Javanese culture would be Hyang Antabhoga, the Naga God of the Underground Kingdom.

Antabhoga's daughter marries the Mahabharata hero Bhima, and bears the child Antareja who is a hero in rural Java because he is invincible, and like his father, he refuses to speak in refined Javanese. As a child, Antareja was brought up by Hyang Antabhoga, and this wall decoration probably depicts the grandfather and grandchild taking a stroll.

This particular wall decoration is carved in correct accordance to the classical form of the Central Javanese Naga of shadow puppet and theatre. This suggests that though it is not certain that the maker of this was also someone who made buffalo-hide shadow puppets, the maker certainly was a lover and keen observer of traditional wayang in Central Java. The gold and silver paint used would suggest that this piece was made after the colour range of modern enamel paints became widely used in Java, which would be in the 1970's.

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