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SENDRATARI RAMAYANA

The Sendratari Ramayana, a Ramayana dance-drama without dialogue, was performed for the first time in the open-air theatre of Prambanan in 1961.

The 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.

There 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, Ravana's brother.
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

Poem 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.

A 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.

The 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.

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