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Dewata Cengkar from Central Java



This mask is from Central Java and appears to have been used as a dance mask made of jack-fruit wood, but has recently been painted over. It represents the Demon King of Java in the pre-Hindu times of cannibalism, Dewata Cengkar.

According to Javanese legend, Aji Saka, a Prince from Hindustan, heard of Dewata Cengkar's habit of eating a pair of virgins every day. Prince Aji Saka (whose name means The Knowledge of The Pillars) felt compassion and pity form the people of Java and offered himself up to be eaten by Dewata Cengkar, in exchange for a piece of land just as big as the spread of his turban, to bury his bones after Dewata Cengkar had eaten him.

However, when Aji Saka spread his turban on the ground, it kept unrolling and unfolding until it covered all the island of Java and pushed Dewata Cengkar over a cliff into the ocean at the south of Java, where he transformed into a white crocodile, where he became an underling of the Queen of the South Seas. Aji Saka became the king of Java and introduced the Hindu religion and ended cannibalism.

The first archaeological evidence of the events described in this legend are the earliest Hindu temples of Java, located in the Dieng Plateau, where according to legend Dewata Cengkar had his capital of Medangkamulan (literally City in The Clouds). The temples were built in the sixth century.

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