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(F037)

East Java Buffalo Skullcap

400

F037

The water buffalo has been domesticated by the Javanese wet rice farmer since pre-historic times. Indeed, along with the volcano, it is one of the most powerful symbols of in Indonesian folk art. In Javanese mythology and theatre, the water buffalo often symbolises the common people. During the revolution of independence from the Dutch, the buffalo, along with the wild Banteng bull, became the symbol of the people's struggle. The Indonesian National Party, PNI used a snorting Banteng bull as its symbol.

F037a

In traditional Javanese villages it was customary to give the buffaloes head to the village chief, as a symbol of respect, whenever a buffalo was killed. Buffaloes would be killed only for special occasions as the celebration of harvest, village cleansing ceremonies, weddings and celebrations of 1000 days after the death, circumcisions, and for the paying of the Islamic Qurban sacrifices. Buffaloes became obsolete in the preparation of the paddy swamps for rice planting with the wide use of hand tractors beginning in the 1970's.

After being severed from its body, this particular skull is likely to have began its life as a gift to the village chief, where it probably was hanging up on the rice barn wall until it was taken down to be painted with red and black enamel. This would have been done to use the skullcap as a prop in 1950's general elections campaign by the village chief who was also a member of Sukarno's PNI. After Sukarno's downfall in 1966, this skullcap would have been hidden.

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