National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne


Above: INDONESIAN – Comical soldier, wayang golek cepak puppet (early 20th century – mid-20th century) north coast Java, Indonesia; painted and gilt-wood, bamboo, wool, silk, cotton, cotton (thread and string) and metallic thread; (a-c) 65.0 x 44.0 x 10.0 cm irreg. (overall) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1973

The rich storytelling traditions of South and Southeast Asia will be explored in a new NGV exhibition titled Gods, Heroes and Clowns: Performance and Narrative in South and Southeast Asian Art, with more than 50 rarely seen works from India, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and Cambodia. Highlights include a Buddhist narrative scroll depicting the Vessantara Jataka (Pha yao Phra Wet) from Thailand. Over 30 metres long, it is one of only two in Australia and will be displayed in its entirety for the first time. Also on display is an Indian narrative cloth banner (phad) depicting the legend of Pabuji, a deified Rajasthan folk hero, in exceptional detail and vibrant colour. The cloth is considered a dwelling of the god and forms the backdrop for a bhopa (storyteller and priest) and bhopi (the priest’s wife) to narrate and sing the legend of Pabuji to a village audience throughout a single night.

The exhibition is on until 30 August, 2015.

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