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Java Shadow Puppet, Batara Guru, Syiwa



The Javanese Batara Guru is always represented standing on the cow Andini. In Javanese shadow puppet plays, Syiwa, the Hindu God of Destruction, is said to be Muslim. Hyang Tunggal, The One God, created him from an egg. Syiwa was the yolk, Semar was the egg-white and Togog was the shell. Syiwa is granted the rule of the universe, and Semar and Togog are sent to live as humans on earth, to guide the good and the evil kings.

The Javanese Syiwa rides the cow Andini because his legs are crippled. When Jesus Christ was born miraculously Syiwa visited to have a look. Upon finding the Christ a mere baby who could not even walk, Syiwa laughed arrogantly, and instantly his legs were crippled. His arrogance from being made ruler of the universe made him grow fangs. And upon laughing at a Javanese Muslim holy man who was performing the shalat prayer with his jacket over his shoulders with empty sleeves, so that it looked like the man had four arms, Syiwa himself grew four arms.

Apart from the obvious character assassination this Hindu God had in the hands of the Javanese Muslims, he still retains all his Hindu powers, and he is still the head of the council of Gods in heaven. In Ramayana and Mahabharata stories, he gives warriors their magical weapons.

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DISCLAIMER: The materials and the make dates of Asian antiques are rarely explicit on the piece. All our descriptions of use, materials, and the dates of our antiques are approximates based on our experience and knowledge. Please contact us if you have other suggestions concerning the nature and the dates of the antiques we sell. Any unsatisfactory item, if returned within 30 days, will be fully refunded excluding shipping costs.