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KETOET GEDE, SINGARAJA, ARJUNA AND DÉTYA ASTRA

LOr. 3390-302

Drawing on Dutch paper, watermark Concordia, countermark VdL., 34.3 x 42.2 cm

A man on the left, holding a bow with his left hand, makes a movement which indicates that he has just shot an arrow. A demonic man stands on the right. He holds two arrows which are bent double in his right hand. There are three more arrows, bent double, in his half-open mouth and similar arrows are depicted on his forehead, chest and right knee. His right foot rests on a pile of five dead men lying prone on the ground. To the left, in front of the man with the arrow, is a group of ten men, running away from the demon. A number of them is holding a lance. These men are clad like ordinary Balinese whereas the two large figures on the left and right are depicted in wayang style.

A text in Balinese script in ink at the top left says: “rejune mentang panah”, Arjuna shoots arrows. In the centre at the bottom is written: panjakapilayu makta tumpak” (the litter “p” is corrected by Van der Tuuk in “b”, tumbak), which means the army runs away holding lances. At the bottom on the right is also written: “bangké”, corpses. At the top on the right: “he détya hastra , nga, ngamah sangjatta”, a détya by the name Astra eats weapons. A note in Dutch written in Latin scripts in ink on the verso side of the sheet says: “Détya astra ‘n manteri door Salya voortgebracht en door Ardjuna gedood”, Détya Astra is a minister, created by Salya and killed by Arjuna. Van der Tuuk gives in his dictionary (Vol. I: 218) almost the same text, but says that the demon is not killed by Arjuna but by Yudistira”. He adds: “Détya Astra also plays a role in the wayang and is shown in the drawings surrounded by various kinds of ogres”.

In the drawing it is Arjuna who shoots arrows at a demon called Astra. However the arrows aimed at his body did not hit him, since they are bent double. The folk, clad like ordinary Balinese, run away in terror. Some of them are already dead.

The identification of this scene gives some problems, because Arjuna fights demons on several occasions. The scene might refer to an episode described in the Old Javanese poem Arjunawiwaha (XXVII: 207). Arjuna is to defeat the demon Niwatakawaca and his army. They fight for a long time, but the are both equal in strength. Arjuna acts as if he were losing strength. His army is put to flight. Niwatakawaca feels triumphant. Arjuna then pretends to fall onto his back. Niwatakawca comes close to him. He starts alluring him, his mouth wide-open. Arjuna, who has already bent his bow, shoots arrows into the mouth of the demon. The vulnerable spot of him – his tongue- is hit. He dies. Astra might well be a minister of the Détya King Niwatakawaca, who is killed by Arjuna in the same way as his Lord will be killed. Another possibility is that a fight from the Old Javanese Bharatayuddha as performed in the North Balinese wayang is represented. Since Salya is killed by Yudistira (Bharatayuddha XLII: 8), it would be understandable if his minister, Détya Astra, were to be killed by the same person, namely Yudistira. This is also suggested by Van der Tuuk in the text of the dictionary, in contrast to the text on the drawing. It is obvious that Van der Tuuk entertained the same doubts as we have and changed “Arjuna” into Yudhistira in the final version of his dictionary. In the written versions of the Bharatayuddha, Arjuna does not fight demons although this may well have been the case in the wayang versions of the Bharatayuddha in North Bali at that time.

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