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The Invisible World

Mythical Beings

Wall hanging Zoomify

The invisible world is teeming with characters that inhabit myths and epic tales. These characters are often idealized versions of humans, combining human with animal traits to create heroes and villains with supernatural powers. Such archetypal beings are celebrated in stories, song cycles and works of visual art, as well as on textiles, jewellery and other forms of embellishment.

About the Object

Object name: Wall hanging
Maker: F. Agus Mudjono
Place made: Yogyakarta, Java
Date made: c. 1976
Dimensions: L 120 cm x W 90 cm
Materials & Techniques: Cotton, woven, batik
Credit line: Gift of Max Allen
ID: T2009.1.97

The artist created this batik cloth as a textile painting while following the traditional batik method of Java. The figures depict an episode of the Hindu epic the Ramayana, in which Hanuman offers Sita her husband Rama's wedding ring to identify himself.

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Animation

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Video

Ketjak: the Ramayana Monkey Chant

The ketjak is a chant that dramatizes an episode in the Ramayana epic. In that episode, the performers chant the syllable tjak (in imitation of monkey sounds) as the monkeys come to the aid of Prince Rama in his battle with the evil King Ravana.

Credit: Video Produced by Horace Long

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Video

How It Is Made: Batik

To create batik, hot wax is painted on cloth using a tjanting (a pen-like applicator) or stamped with a printing block called a tjap, before being dipped in vats of cool dye. Wax resists the dye in the patterned areas. The wax is then scraped off and reapplied to other areas of the cloth, which is dyed again. The spidery pattern in the background of this hanging is caused by the dye penetrating the cracks in the wax. To achieve this effect, the artist used a wax with a higher concentration of paraffin, because paraffin is more brittle and cracks more easily than beeswax.

Credit: Video Courtesy of Indonesian Consulate of Toronto. Batik Winotosastro, Indonesia.

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Slide Show

Hanuman

Hanuman is a character in the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana, in which he plays the role of trickster and merry adventurer. He is a Vanara – part monkey, part deity – born of a monkey princess and Vayu, the Hindu wind god. Hanuman takes his white colour from langur monkeys, which live in the foothills of the Himalayas. Langur monkeys have whitish-grey fur and a black face; in Indian mythology, this is because Hanuman burned his hands and face trying to rescue Lord Rama's wife Sita from Ravana, the demon king.

Langur Monkeys

Hanuman

Image title: Langur Monkeys
Credit: Image Courtesy of McKay Savage

Ramayana

Hanuman

Image title: Ramayana
Description: Rama defeats the ten-headed demon Ravana
Credit: ©The Trustees of the British Museum

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Collection Connections

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Wall hanging

Wall hanging

ID*: T84.0072

Tenture murale

Wall hanging

ID*: T84.0040

Head cloth (kain kepala)

Head cloth (kain kepala)

ID*: T95.0041