Two of the Punakawan ‘children’, Petruk and Bagong pay homage to the father Semar.
In the painting, Bagong is asking for a blessing from the father by bowing on one’s hands and knees.
and Petruk is waiting for his turn. Such a gesture is called “Sungkeman” and is held after Sholat Ied (Eid Al-Fitr prayer) to ask for forgiveness for all we have done that may hurt others’ feelings. The young ones are the ones who bow to show their respect to the elders.
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.