Folk Tale: Wedding of Pan Brayut's Son, Balinese Painting E74196

The groom had thick lips, uneven teeth, meagre hair, and blue veins in his calves, but he had a reputation for sexual fortitude.

Balinese Painting E74196A

 © Australian Museum

This ider-ider, to be read from right to left, retells the story Ketut Subaya, one of Pan Brayut’s eighteen children. A written version of the story portrays Ketut Subaya as a rather hideous character. His face had so many spots that they ran into each other. He also had thick lips, uneven teeth and meagre hair. He was wall-eyed like a goat and had blue veins in his calves. He was generally sloppy. Yet he was well dressed and carried a superb kris (dagger). His wedding, which in the text is only mentioned in passing, is the subject of this painting, giving the artist the opportunity to show a series of episodes from contemporary life.

The first scene, on the right, shows women preparing offerings. In the next scene, men butcher pigs and cattle. Then they chop up the meat to prepare lawa and sate, which are grilled over hot coals. After that there is a scene of feasting, with the more refined guests sitting in pavilions, and the others outside. One guest is shown drinking in the traditional Balinese manner: a stream of liquid is caught in the mouth and the lips never touch the vessel.

The marriage ceremony is performed by a high priest pedanda on a raised platform with Ketut Subaya and his pretty bride kneeling in front. Pan Brayut, the groom’s father is probably the man behind the pedanda's servant.

A public procession follows. In this humorous scene Ketut Subaya rides a horse, but he looks scared as the horse is disturbed by a dog. His new wife, suitably attended, walks in front. In the next two scenes, Ketut Subaya and his wife make offerings at two temples. At the first, presumably his family temple, a five-roofed merua (pagoda-like structure), the bride and groom are accompanied by his parents. The second offerings are made at what is probably the domestic shrine of the house in which the newly married couple are to live. The final scene shows the consummation of the marriage and the watching and giggling attendant is a standard 'extra' in such scenes.

This painting is of modest artistic quality (as compared to the Brayut story in E74195). However, it shows a lively and amusing commentary on Balinese life. The ugly loutish son is a figure of fun, yet he has a reputation for sexual fortitude, as his parents had a reputation for fertility.

Explanations:

An ider-ider painting in Bali is designed to be hung under the eaves of a pavilion in a palace temple. It is wrapped around the outside of the pavilion and the story is normally presented in a series of scenes running from left to right. Scenes may be presented in the reverse order when the painting is used for rituals associated with death, or when hung in a Pura Dalem, death temple.

Lawa is a special ceremonial meal made from finely chopped pork, onion and chilli mixed with blood. It is eaten raw or cooked as sate.

Sate - traditional Balinese sate is made from finely chopped or minced meat (e.g. lawa), moulded onto a stick and grilled over hot coals.

Pedanda - Balinese Brahman priest.

Meru is a religious memorial or shrine such as a tower or garden pavilion with many roofs, which indicate the status of its founder. Meru must have an odd number of roofs, up to a maximum of 11.

 


Dr Stan Florek , Database Manager
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