Featured Help identifying wooden dolls

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by Bjarnisdotter, Feb 28, 2024.

  1. Bjarnisdotter

    Bjarnisdotter New Member

    Hi :)

    I picked up this pair of dolls at a thrift-store in Amsterdam and I’m looking for any onfo about them! Origin, age, value etc.

    They are aprox. 26 inches long. I had a hard time resizing the image to be able to upload here, but let me know if this isn’t good enough or if more pictures are needed:)

  2. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    They're Indonesian puppets. @Any Jewelry will be able to tell you more.

  3. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    These are Wayang Golek or Wayang Menak puppets from Java, Indonesia. They have some age, but are not antique.
    Wayang is Javanese puppet theatre. The plays are often based on Hindu epics.
    Wayang Golek is the Wayang form of the Sundanese people of West Java. The Sundanese have modified classic Javanese Wayang Kulit, and use 3-dimensional puppets instead of the classic flat shadow puppets.
    Wayang Menak is inspired by traditional Wayang, but based on Islamic stories. It also uses 3-dimensional puppets. I think these are Menak.

    The black velvet jackets with gold trim mean these are courtly characters, members of a ruling family. The sarpech, turban ornament, indicates the same.
    The woman's face shows some Wayang Cepak influence. Wayang Cepak is the Wayang theatre of the Peranakan, Chinese Indonesians. It is mostly from the city of Cirebon.

    To help with identification, could you show the sides and backs of the heads please? I can't promise an ID though, because I know very little of Wayang Menak characters.

    The Netherlands are full of Indonesian crafts and antiques, so lots of nice things to be found.:)
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2024
  4. Matahari

    Matahari Well-Known Member

    there is a art form in Belgium ( liege ) with very similar puppets


    sorry about the size of the photo !
    johnnycb09 likes this.
  5. Matahari

    Matahari Well-Known Member

    abs.png marionnettes liegoises
    johnnycb09 likes this.
  6. Bjarnisdotter

    Bjarnisdotter New Member

    @Any Jewelry Thank you so much, this is very helpful Here are pictures of the sides and back of their heads. Do you have any idea how old they could be?

    IMG_8895.jpeg IMG_8894.jpeg IMG_8893.jpeg IMG_8892.jpeg
    komokwa, Any Jewelry and johnnycb09 like this.
  7. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Yes, there are marionettes and shadow puppets in many parts of Europe and Asia. I know the ones from Liege/Luik, it is about two hours drive from me.:playful:

    The difference between Wayang and most of the others is that Wayang theatre has a religious function.
    komokwa and johnnycb09 like this.
  8. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Did you forget to post the photos, Bjarnisdotter?
  9. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Ah yes, there they are, thanks.
    I love the lady.
    I would say the man is very likely a Wayang Menak figure, so from an Islamic story. They seem to be by the same maker, so I would guess the woman is a Menak character as well. My guess is that they are mid-20th century.
    Menak Wayang theatre originated in Kudus, on the North Coast of Java. Your puppets could be either from the North Coast or from West Java.
    Wayang Menak puppets are much more rare than regular Wayang Golek puppets.

    Wayang Menak stories centre around the nine saints who are said to have brought Islam to Java. These saints came from Arabia and Central Asia. A few of them married into Javanese royal families, hence the royal jackets.
    kentworld and komokwa like this.
  10. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    I find the slightly Chinese features of the woman interesting on a personal level.
    I am a descendant of one of the nine saints of Java.
    My 'saintly' ancestor was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, but he was of Arab and Persian origin. He was known as Ibrahim al Samarkandi.
    Ibrahim came from a long line of Islamic teachers and theologians, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, and he was sent to the Islamic kingdom of Champa to teach.
    Champa was a kingdom along the coast of what is presently Vietnam. In Champa he married into the royal family. It is important for Islamic royal families to have a bloodtie with the prophet.
    After a few years the Vietnamese invaded prosperous Champa, and the royal family had to flee the country. Ibrahim and his Champa princess fled to Java, where the sister of the princess had married the king. They became part of the royal household, and Ibrahim continued to teach. In those days the Javanese royals embraced all faiths on the island.

    So there is complicated story in a nutshell. I won't test you on it.:playful:

    In light of this story, I wonder if your lady's features aren't slightly Chinese, but actually meant to be Vietnamese, from Champa.
    I guess we'll never know.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2024
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  11. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    I am a descendant of one of the nine saints of Java.

    & Royalty.....on this site !!!;)..:kiss::kiss:
    Any Jewelry likes this.
  12. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Antiquers has it all!:joyful::kiss:
    kentworld and komokwa like this.
  13. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    maybe so ...but you girl...you're a breed apart...and elevate us...to a higher level !!!

    So Sez Komo !!
    Any Jewelry likes this.
  14. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

  15. Bjarnisdotter

    Bjarnisdotter New Member

    @Any Jewelry Wow, thank you so much for your thorough answers!
    komokwa and Any Jewelry like this.
  16. kentworld

    kentworld Well-Known Member

    I think they are charming -- lovely colours and features.
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