Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
Dance mask of Kuda Narawangsa, late 19th century
wood, gold, gemstones, leather, horse hair
17.0 x 14.5 x 10.0 cm
National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta
The romantic adventure, Tale of Panji, originated in medieval Java and gained popularity over much of western and central Indonesia, as well as other parts of the Malay world of Southeast Asia. The character Kuda Narawangsa is a young beauty transformed into a man by Brahma. The god declared that she could only become a woman again if she engaged in battle with her betrothed Panji and shed his blood. Once reunited, the lovers returned home to Kunipan where Panji was crowned king.