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Open Access Narrative reliefs and panji stories

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Narrative reliefs and panji stories

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Chapter Summary

In order to understand the symbolism of narrative reliefs, which is the task of this chapter, we need to take a look at the specificity of the literary and of the sculptural traditions in ancient Java and their interrelation. It is mainly two different genres of literature that are displayed in the reliefs. One genre is comprised of the kakawin, the Old Javanese poem, based on the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Other narrative reliefs depict stories, composed independently of Indian sources during the East Javanese period, which became very popular in this time, among them the Bubukshah story and particularly the kidung poetry, such as the kidung Sri Tanjung. Among the narratives whose depictions show cap-figures, Panji stories are those most frequently visualized. In the Panji stories, as a particular type of narrative within the kidung genre, Panji's behaviour and activities show a strong link with folk literature.

Keywords: cap-figures; Javanese period; kakawin; kidung poetry; literary genre; narrative reliefs; Panji stories; symbolism



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