Javanese Marriage Figures

Hindu figures help bring good luck to newly weds

This is a Yorkshire World Collections object, one of 100 chosen by young people aged 16-24, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

These figures are over 120 years old. Free-standing pairs of sculptures like these 'marriage figures', are placed in the bedroom of a newly married husband and wife, or on either side of their house entrance. Amongst upper class Javanese this would be a popular gift. The 'loro blonyo' (inseparable couple) seen here are Dewi Sri, Hindu goddess of agricultural fertility and her husband Raden Sadono.

During the traditional Javanese wedding, figures like these are placed in front of the canopied marriage bed and as the ceremony begins, they are replaced by the real bride and groom. They believe that happiness, children and prosperity are secured when they are in the home. The figures may be represented in traditional or modern Javanese dress and although the loro blonyo are most common, other pairs are sometimes seen such as the clown-servants, Gareng and Petruk.

Discussion Ideas:

  • Why do you think people use special objects at the time they get married?
  • Marriage is an important ceremony in many cultures. What objects do we in Britain use as part of marriage ceremonies?
  • What part of the couple’s life might be represented by Dewi Sri and Raden Sadono? Gareng and Petruk?
  • Think of some other people who might be called an 'inseparable' couple? Give reasons for your answer.

Activity Idea:

  • Think of five famous couples and match any of the following words that you think they are most famous for: beauty, business success, politics, performance, beliefs, caring for animals, kind, having lots of money, giving money away, musical skills.
    Then decide if it is just one or both members of the couple who are famous for that description of them.
  • Find out more about about the clown-servants Gareng and Petruk using the links at the bottom of the page.
  • Hinduism is a religion practised in India as well as Java. Use the Google map below to see how far Java is from India.

Document icon Learning article provided by: South East Asia Museum | 
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