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Scenes from the Ramayana epos

The tale of Hanuman Duto

There are many versions of the Ramayana epos. A highlight of all versions is the story ‘Hanuman Duto’, the part in which the white monkey chief Hanuman goes on a spying mission to the court of Alengka. Following is the story as it is depicted by a sequence of reliefs on Penataran's main temple. They parallel the second and third episode of the Ramayana ballet performed at Prambanan.

Rama is a prince of the Ayodya kingdom. His beautiful wife, Shinta, has been abducted by Rahwana, king of Alengka.
Hanuman, the white monkey chief, is sent by Rama to his enemy' s kingdom, to try and make contact with Shinta and hand her Rama's ring as a token of his enduring love.


Hanuman sets out on his mission. We see him travelling through the clouds. >

Alengka lies across a sea (in the Indian version of the Ramayana epos Alengka lies in Srilangka). In the relief below Hanuman is seen wading through the waves.


Hanuman has arrived in the forests of Alengka and approaches the court of Rahwana. >

Having come close to the palace, Hanuman hides in a tree. However, he is spotted and the captain of the guard Indrajid shoots an arrow at him.


Hanuman, in the tree, is hit by the arrow. >

Hanuman is caught and bound tightly with thick ropes. His enemies threaten to kill him.


However, instead of killing Hanuman directly, the guards have him carried to Rahwana. >

Rahwana orders Hanuman to be tortured.


They bind cloth around his tail, pour oil on it and set this on fire. But Hanuman with his supernatural powers wrestles himself free (or did the fire burn the rope he was bound with?). See the loose rope in the foreground. >

Hanuman with burning tail then jumps on the roof of the palace and sets it on fire. This would have been easy, the roof in the relief seems to be made of wooden slates.
This scene is also the conclusion of the second episode of the Ramayana ballet in Prambanan, where a straw roof is actually set on fire – to great enthousiasm of the domestic spectators.


Of course the Alengka court is in an uproar. In vain Rahwana himself takes part in the search for Hanuman. >

Profiting of the confusion, Hanuman has successfully escaped through the trees.


While his enemies are looking for him outside, Hanuman sneaks into the house where Shinta is imprisoned,
and hands her the ring from Rama. She gives him a comb in return. >

Then Hanuman hurries back to Ayodya, again seen crossing the sea.


Having arrived in Ayodya he met someone I could not identify. In the background two monkeys, as usual recognizable by their tail. >

Here we see Hanuman reverently reporting to prince Rama. They decide to invade Alengka in order to release Shinta.


Hanuman confers with his colleague Sugriwa, the red monkey chief. Their armies will take part in the invasion. >

The monkey army on the move.


To enable the whole army to cross the sea, the monkeys build a dam. Here we see some of them carrying rocks. >

A fierce battle ensues, taking up several reliefs. Here are depicted some of the slain Alengka troops.


Hanuman attacks an enemy who has slain Sugriwa. >

In the course of the battle, Kumbokarno (Rahwana's brother) is killed by Leksmana (Rama's brother). Kumbokarno is seen as a good character, as he had tried to persuade his elder brother to hand over Shinta and so avoid a war. But in response he was banished from the court. Yet, when the war is on, Kumbokarno returns to fight in defense of his country: "Right or wrong, my country."


In the following reliefs the war drags on, through several one-on-one combats. >

But in the end Rahwana too is killed and Rama can bring his wife Shinta safely home.
The epos as well as the Prambanan ballet concludes with a fourth episode in which Shinta is required to prove her chastity while in Rahwana's power through a fire ordeal.

Posted by theo1006 15:20 Archived in Indonesia Tagged temples reliefs

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It's amazing to see all those ancient stone illustrations... I imagine people had a deep belief in this thriller story...

by Vic_IV

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