The three Punakawan ‘children’ are portrayed at school –Petruk as a teacher and the two siblings as students. This description was given by the seller. There is, however, another title and description by Lontar Foundation for a similar painting with different colours by painter Arini. The title is “At the Meeting Hall” and the description is that Petruk, Gareng and Bagong are speaking together at the meeting hall. Punakawan are characters of the wayang kulit (shadow puppets) performances in Java who can best be described as jokers or clowns since they act in the comedy play performed in between the main story as intermezzo. They are often portrayed in glass paintings in various situations often as social or political commentaries. More specifically, the Punakawan are servants to the hero of the story, regardless of who that hero is. They consist of a family with four members:
1. Semar, also known as Ki Lurah Semar (the ‘father’ of the other three Punakawan)
2. Gareng (the eldest son)
3. Petruk (the second son)
4. Bagong (the youngest son)
SEMAR (not in the painting, but in picture below)
An old wise man, ex-member of the Pandawa/Pandava Army in the Mahabharata epic, who now lives in peace in the village of Jalatunda, raising orphans in his house. For Gareng, Petruk and Bagong he is just like a real father. As dhanyang (guardian spirit) of Java, he is considered divine and regarded by some as the most sacred figure of the wayang set.
The eldest adopted orphan in the Punakawan House. He’s a mature and calm one. Lives close to nature. He is portrayed as with a short stature, often bending (to indicate caution) and with a limp leg.
Portrayed with a long nose and long limbs, Petruk is seen as a ‘nerd’ who is always experimenting with inventions.
The somewhat short and fat Bagong, but his eyes and mouth are wide, which depicts his presumptuous, yet honest and powerful character. He is like an energetic child who acts bravely yet recklessly, with the dream of becoming a superhero.