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  • Writer's pictureMacan Mountain

Gunungan (“Mountain” in Javanese)

Gunungan symbolises the cosmos, the beginning and the end of everything. It is placed in the centre of the Wayang Kulit screen to begin and end shows, mark scene transitions, sanctuaries, natural elements and extreme events. This mountain figure often displays a tiger and wild ox facing each other. The tiger symbolises power. The wild ox symbolises justice, as it is strong, brave and persistent. This face-off suggests that power should face justice, like a courageous ox fighting against a predatory tiger. The bottom centre commonly features a door to illustrate the path between the human world and the mythical world of deities and spirits. The Gunungan is the border between both worlds — akin to Macan Mountain explorations. The last picture below shows the other side of the mountain: a destructive volcano that spews out flames and fire. The volcano watches over humans and their behaviour. Rare animals and mythical creatures are the guardian spirits of the volcano.


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