From Cosmogony to Exorcism in a Javanese Genesis

{N.B. all of the following features are prototypically Chinese (i.e., Confucianist-cum-Taoist) rather/ than Bharatiya (Astika etc.) : puppet-play shews (puppetry being mentioned in, e.g., RITh, pp, 136, 142-3; "the Parchment Monkey Shadows of Taiwan and Guangdong" in ChShTh, p. 97 and also p. 226), a primordial god having an inchoate shape (namely Hun-tun / Hun Dun -- adopted into Mother Goose as "Humpty Dumpty"); "Dragon dance including a lion figure" (FCE, p. 104, fn. 2), cf. "The Lion Throws Up Eight Treasures" (ChShTh, "Illustrations"); mythic "magical weapons" (mentioned in, e.g., M&LCh, pp. 122-3) of divine weaponry such as in the Jehol play The Strategic Formation with Ten Thousand Magic Weapons (mentioned in M&LCh, p. 228), and prominently displayed as wielded by idols of gods in many Taoist temples, for customarily idols of (VMPCh, p. 33) "gods in military style ... hold ... Chinese ancient weapons." All these are a virtually certain indications of original Taoist provenience of the whole syndrome/complex. Under what historic circumstances the whole whole syndrome/complex was adopted into a nominally Bharatiya nomenclature is the main quaestion -- but it would likely be in the course of one of the frequent historic outlawings of some major traditional religious denomination-sect by the imperious and habitually repressive dynastic governments of China, necessitating a seeking of refuge, outside the boundaries of the Middle Kingdom, under protection by some "foreign devil" religion (in this case, the Astika Varn.a-As`rama-Dharma). [written Febr 2016]}

RITh = Margaret Chan : Ritual is Theatre, Theatre is Ritual. SNP Reference, Singapore, 2006.

ChShTh = Fan Pen Li Chen : Chinese Shadow Theatre. McGill-Queens Univ Pr, Montreal & Kingston, 2007.

M&LCh = E. T. C. Werner : Myths and Legends of China. London; Bombay; Sydney : George G. Harrap & Co.

VMPCh = Mark W. J. M. Sterke : Venerable Martial Places of China. Tilburg : Shin Tài Ryu.

Illustration : photograph of Taoist temple-idols of gods wielding weapons



Capitulum Titulus






Purification-Ritual in Jawi Shadow-Puppet Theatre



Murwala Kala Performance



Performances Compared



Ritual Purification Without Theatre



Cosmogony and the Mantra-s



Incomplete and Impure Persons in Jawi Myths



Jawi Cosmology







0. Praefatia

pp. v-vii some definitions

p. #


its definition

v, fn. 2


snare, time, evil spirit


performing a conjuration

vi, fn. 6


performer of leather-puppet shadow-show









1. Purification-Ritual in Javanese Shadow-Puppet Theatre

sect. #

sectio titulus






Past Perpectives






Corpus Mythorum






Non-Javanese Myth



Approach of the Book


1.1 -- p. 1 synopsis of the myth

"the monster Kala {Kala}, born from the spilt seed of the god Guru (Siwa {S`iva}), ... acquires an appetite for human flesh. The gods rally to ... reading from his body the secret words inscribed on it earlier by Guru. These inscriptions describe the creation of the universe, and their ritual retelling ... restores order to the world, at least for a time."

1.2 -- p. 5 Pan~ji myth

"J. J. Ras (1973) ..., using Scha:rer's (1963) materials from Borneo, has shown that the models constructed by Rassers in his 1926 thesis for ... the Panji myth, are indeed validated ... .

The Panji myth portrays an incestuous relationship,

{Panji married his own sister Candra KIRaNa (Ras 1973, p. 424 -- cited in Headley 2005, p. 63).}

{The heroine Hersilia was deified with the name Hora QUIRiNi (DCM, s.v. "Hersilia", p. 212b).}

and Rassers realized that this marriage of the world's first couple was a 'myth of the coming into being of the Javanese world' (Ras 1973:455).

The comparative mythological material gathered from the western Indonesian variations on this theme will be presented in a second volume."

{Headley afterwards (2005, p. 43) came across also, "In Japan, the myth of ... the origin of rice from a daughter married to a snake ... (Mauclaire 1991)."}

Ras 1973 = J. J. Ras : "The Panji Romance and W. H. Rasser's Analysis of Its Theme". BIJDRAGEN TOT DE TAAL-, LAND- EN VOLKENKUNDE 129:411-56.

Scha:rer 1963 = Hans Schärer : Ngaju Religion. KITLV TRANSLATION SERIES 6. The Hague : Martinus Nijhoff.

Headley 2005 = Stephen C. Headley : "Des hommes incomplets a` Java". L'HOMME 2005.2 (174):23-44 (161-182).

Mauclaire 1991 = Simone Mauclaire : "Serpent and Femininity, Metaphors of the Real Body of the Gods". MAN 117: 66-95.

1.3 -- p. 8 concomitants of the rite

"an audience, lively parchment shadow puppets, a gamelan accompaniment, and singing,

as well as, at the beginning, offerings,

and at the very end, invocations."

1.3 -- p. 10 utterance of prayers during performance; graphogony

There "are ... mantras always read at the close of the exorcism. These prayers are ... being whispered by the dhalang in his own voice rather than enacted by puppets. ...

Despite being inaudible ..., the mantras activate the purification process."

They are considered to operate by writing on the world (tulis ing jagad)

and they tell the beginning of a myth whose end has already been told during the play. The story of Kala's defeat (the end of the myth) is told before the account of creation ... . ...

As in certain Indian myths ... where the creator creates ..., the Javanese creator does so by graphogony."

[p. 10, fn. 11 : "Alan Feinstein ... has used 'graphogony' (creation by writing) to describe this Javanese practice which, in the form of amulets etc. {actually, talismans rather than amulets}, is well known to Muslims throughout the world."]

1.4 -- pp. 12-13 relevant narratives from books composed in the 18th century ChrE

p. 12

"In the second book of the encyclopedic eighteen-century Javanese poem, Serat Centhini, the hero Cabolang attends an exorcism 'by' the dhalang Panjang Mas. This text links ... to the performance of another play, Partadewa."

p. 13

"the late eighteen-century Manikmaya in three volumes of macapat verse is organized as a traditional 'compendium' history of the island of Java beginning with ... the creation of the world.

[p. 13, fn. 15 : "Cf. Headley (1997b) for a comparison of their ... cosmogonies."]

After describing the right-hand [<]Arabic genealogy descending from the prophet [>]Adam, it gives the left-hand genealogy involving the birth of Kala, followed by the appearance of the primordial Javanese kingdom at Medhangkawit."

[p. 13, fn. 17 : "this myth linked to that of rice goddess Dewi Sri {Devi S`ri} and her brother Sadana {'being set'}, the first rulers of this kingdom (for a re'sume' see Headley 1983). ... The transition from one myth to another is made by the figure of the snake Antaboga {An-anta Bhoga 'endless enjoyment'}, capable of carrying eggs in its mouth."

Headley 1997b [no such in bibliography, p. 234; nor in WorldCat; nor at]

Headley 1983 = DIALOGUE : LE LIT 82:77-86.

1.4 -- p. 18 rite for dispelling parasites [see also 2.3 (p. 34, fn. 3)]

"The dhalang prepared these texts along with rustic and provocative illustrations for the Dutch collector Ir. Moens ... . ... Widi Prayitino's penchant ... led ... to ... myths with erotic details and ... the agrarian exorcism rites against plant parasites (that is, kala) ... in Sentolo ["in the Kulon Paga area west of Yogyakarta."]".

[p. 18, fn. 27 "His entire collection ran some 150 volumes" written in "inordinately large script ... . ... The Moens collection ... remains valuable".]

1.5 -- p. 19 geographic distribution of the Kala mythos

"For centuries the Birth of Kala myth belonged to a corpus covering a vast area stretching from the Malay peninsula to Bali.

Written versions of it abound in Bali (Hooykass 1971),

{also described in DShB}

and Cuisinier (1957) has studied the oral traditions in Kelantan." {But what about comparing Kala's having been engendred (very much in similar mode as titan Kronos) in the sea? Goddess Ma-tsu ("DMMTs") "is frequently depicted standing over waves of the sea." She (Ma-tsu) is often styled /A-ma/ 'Grandmother', suggesting a concordanance with the Iban (in Sarawak) goddess named /ININI/ [evidently an etymon aequivalent to Sumerian goddess-name /IN-INNI/] 'Grandmother'."}

{The State of Kelantan is noted for, in its district of Ketereh, nigh the town Machang, a 300-year-old Taoist "temple called Seng Choon Keong", dedicated to goddess Ma-tsu and featuring a "lion dance association" ("VCPRKT", p. 4); and for a Taoist "temple in Tumpat, Kelantan" (SATGD, p. 20). These facts may be further indications of an antique Taoist provenience for this Jawi myth.}

DShB = Angela Hobart : Dancing Shadows of Bali : Theatre and Myth. London : KPI, 1987.

Cuisinier 1957 = J. Cuisinier : Le The'a^tre d'ombres a` Kelantan. Paris : Gallimard.

"VCPRKT" = "Village Community Project Report, Kampung Tokong". 2013.

SATGD = Khoo Boo Eng : A Simple Approach To Taoism of Gods and Deities. Partridge Publ, Singapore, 2014.

"DMMTs" = "Divine Mother Ma-Tsu".

1.6 -- p. 21 exorcisms in Balinese temple-dances and in Balinese theatrical plays

"Belo, in her 1949 description of the temple dances of Kesiman, has provided a ... study ... of the adepts of the widow{-goddess} Rangda, whom Barong exorcizes along with the forces ... inspired by Durga {/Dus-ga/ 'ill-come'}. ...

In the Balinese mukur ritual (Hobart, Ramsayer, and Leeman 1996:125-6) the ro[^]le of the four foetus siblings who aid in such a purification is described."

"The Sundanese and the Balinese exorcisms of Kala have already been treated ... in the philological work of Hooykaas (1971; 1974). The cosmogony ... is clearly expressed in the Balinese creation myth Purvaka Bhumi. In these Balinese plays, the dhalang, as the incarnation of the god of love {Kama 'desire'}, proceeds to exorcize Kala".

Belo 1949 = Jane Belo : Bali, Rangda and Barong. MONOGRAPHS OF THE AMER ETHNOLOGICAL SOC, 16.

Hobart, Ramsayer, & Leeman 1966 = Angela Hobart; Urs Ramseyer; Albert Leemann : The Peoples of Bali. Oxford : Blackwell, 1996.

Hooykaas 1971 = Christiaan Hooykaas : Kama and Kala : ... Shadow Theatre in Bali. Amsterdam : North-Holland Publ.

Hooykaas 1974 = Christiaan Hooykaas : Cosmogony and Creation in Balinese Tradition. The Hague : Martinus Nijhoff.

1.6 -- p. 21 Malay placenta-spirit; Malay animal-spirits

"Wilkinson ... (1906: 30 and 71) states that a Malay, 'if he wishes to control a demon, he alludes to the theory of its generation from the placenta ... of childbirth'."

"the Malays ... describe the cosmic dangers to children as attacks on the newborn by the gods hyena (Kala), bull (Brahma), and wild boar (Wisnu) as recounted in Javanese myth."

Wilkinson 1906 = Richard James Wilkinson : Malay Beliefs. London : Luzac & Co.

1.7 -- pp. 22-3 synopsis of this book





1st "relationship of the myth to theatre and ritual."

2nd "translation of a contemporary Murwu Kala ruwatan".

3rd "wayang interpretations of the rite by ... dhalangs."

4th "translation of an exorcism from a mountain village".

2nd "relationship between ritual rebirth and the ordering of the cosmos".

5th "communication with the gods through mantras."


6th "categories of sukerta (impurity or bad destiny)."

7th "cosmology ... for ... traditions of south central Java."

1.7 -- p. 23, fn. 32 mythology in Borneo, in Sulawesi, and in Samat.a

"There is at present the published Malay version (Cusinier 1957:201-37), one Sudanese poetic version (Rosana 1964), and ... permutations of this myth in Borneo, in southern Sulawesi (cf. Pelras 1984 and Hamonic 1987), as well as in the Minangkabau area of Sumatra (cf. de Josselin de Jong 1980)."

Cusinier 1957 = Jeanne Cuisinier : Danses magiques de Kelantan. Paris. (Transl. as Magic dances of Kelantan, by Ariane Brunel. New Haven (CT) : Human Area Relations Files, 142.)

Rosana 1964 = S. Rosana : Ngaruat. Bandung : Adjisaka.

Pelras 1984 [1983] = C. Pelras : "Le Panthe'on des anciens Bugis vu a` travers les textes de La Galigo". ARCHIPEL 25:63-96.

Hamonic 1987 = Gilbert Hamonic : Le langage des dieux ... en Pays Bugis Ce'le`bes-Sud ... . Paris : E'ditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique : Diffusion, Presses du CNRS, 1987.

de Josselin de Jong 1980 = Patrick Edward de Josselin de Jong : Ruler and Realm ... in Western Indonesia. Amsterdam : North-Holland Publ.


Stephen C.[avanna] Headley : From Cosmogony to Exorcism in a Javanese Genesis : the Spilt Seed. Oxford Univ Pr, 2000.