Sendratari Ramayana, a Ramayana dance-drama without dialogue, was
performed for the first time in the open-air theatre of Prambanan
Ramayana epic is too long to be performed as a whole in one performance.
Consequently, in the Sendratari Ramayana it is devided into four
parts, each of which is called a lakon, viz. the Abduction of Sinta,
Hanuman's Mission to Alengka, the Death of Kumbakarna, and the Reunion
of Rama and Sinta.
is one particular characteristic of the Javanese (Indonsian) Ramayana
which distinguishes it from its Indian counterpart: rama is more
human than godlike.
This Ramayana story was carved in the stone reliefs of the 9th century
Prambanan temples located on the border between Yogyakarta and Surakarta.
A Ramayana series is carved beautifully on the inner side of the
balustrade wall of the Shiva temple beginning with a scene of the
god Vishnu enthroned upon the world serpent Ananta up to the moment
when the monkey army led by Hanuman crosses the sea to Langka. The
story is continued on the Brahma temple south of the Shiva temple
in tile Prambanan temple compound. Probably the Ramayana epic was
translated orally from both the Sanskrit and the Prakrit to Old
Javanese some time before the construction of these Prambanan temples.
The name Rama was mentioned in Canggal's stone inscription erected
in Central Java in A.D. 732.
We also find scenes of the Ramayana carved on the base of the Panataran
temple in East Java (12th to 15th centuries), beginning with Hanuman's
mission to Langka as a scout and ending with the death of Kumbakarna,
In Java the story of Rama was first written by a poet (possibly
Yogishvara) who composed the Ramayana Kakavin (Ramayana Poern with
Sanskrit metres), probably the oldest Old Javanese literary work
dating from the beginning of the 10th century. This
is far from a mere translation of the Indian epic. The poet apears
to have drawn deeply from his own imagination.
Working with the Ramayana Kakawin, the famous 19th century Javanese
poet Yasadipura I composed a new version of the Javanese Ramayana,
the Serat Rama. The present-day Javanese stories from the Ramayana
are performed primarily by leather puppets and dance-drama based
on Yasadipura's version.
striking difference between the Indian Ramayana epic and the Indonesian
version occurs in the last part, which narrates the burning of Sita.
The Indian Ramayana epic ends tragically with Sita disappearing,
swallowed up by the earth but in the Indonesian version there is
a happy ending. As Sinta is in the fire, she becomes more and more
beautiful, and she remains unharmed. The burning of Sinta, a test
of chastity, ends with Rama being able to go living with his most
faithful wife at his side.
summary of the Sendratari Ramayana without dialogue is as follows.
Rama, accompained by his wife Sinta (Dewi Sinta) and his younger
brother Laksmana (Lesmana), have left Ayodhya and are wandering
in the wild forest. On their way, the king of Langka (Alengka or
Ngalengka) named Rahwana sees them. Rahwana falls in love with Dewi
Sinta and decides to kidnap her. At Rahwana's order, the giant Kalamarica
is changed into a golden deer to attract Sinta's attention, tempting
her to catch it.
Dewi Sinta is indeed attracted by the golden deer and wants to catch
it. After the three have chased the animal in vain, Sinta cries
and asks Rama to catch it. Full of pity, Rama sets out to hunt for
the deer and Laksmana is ordered to guard Sinta.