Actors acted as the Punakawans (left to right): Petruk, Bagong, Gareng and Semar

Although the legend of Ramayana and Mahabarata were from India, for hundreds of years they already became a part of Indonesian folklore. There are differences between Indian version and Indonesian version.

The PunakawansEdit

Main article Punakawan

One of the differences between Indian version and Indonesian version of Ramayana and Mahabarata story is the inclusion of punakawan characters. The punakawans are purely Javanese invention. The punakawans are: Semar, Gareng, Petruk and Bagong.

Although they have very high magical ability (not even the gods can match them), the punakawans live as laid back and easy going commoners. They always follow the Pandawas as their cortege and sometimes advisor.

In Javanese shadow puppet performance, the punakawans usually appear in second act as comic relief which make audience laugh. They usually make fun of the audience or provide funny satire of the current popular issues or about political or economical situation.


Main article Petruk

Punakawan sukasman

Shadow puppet of the Punakawans (left to right): Semar, gareng, Petruk and Bagong

Petruk (means: poo face) is the second son of Semar. Physically he is tall with long nose. He has very high magical ability but he chooses not to use it unless he has to. Like other punakawans, he is easy going and lives as a laid back commoner. His wife is Dewi Ambarwati and his son is Lengkungkusuma. He is also known as Dawala or Udel in Sundanese tradition. He and other punakawans provide comic relief in Javanese shadow puppet performance.

The conflict of Jamus KalimasadaEdit

It was told that Jamus Kalimasada was a very strong magical amulet in the form of a scroll owned by the Pandawas.

Dewi Mustakaweni wanted to take revenge to the Pendawas who killed one of her ancestors. She disguised herself as Gatotkaca, the son of one of the Pandawas, and easily took Jamus Kalimasada. But before she can escape, Srikandi saw through her disguise and there was a fight between her and Srikandi. eventually she lost and escaped. Srikandi told Bambang Priyambada about the stolen amulet. Bambang then chased Dewi Mustakaweni and fought her. She lost again but this time she surrendered. Bambang then gave Jamus Kalimasada to Petruk because he thought the amulet would be safe in the hand of the highly magical Punakawan.

Kingdom of Lojitenggara SonyawibawaEdit


Petruk is king of the Kingdom of Sonyawibawa.

But instead of returning it to the Pandawas, Petruk used the amulet for his own benefit. The power of Jamus Kalimasada had corrupted his mind. With his high magical ability added with the magical power of the amulet, he became a king of the Kingdom of Lojitenggara Sonyawibawa with title Prabu Welgeduwelbeh Tongtongsot Upelgen Kanthong Bolong[1], a funny title for a king.

As a king, he was no ordinary king. His behaviour as a commoner didn't change. He still liked to eat commoner's food, and enjoyed commoner's entertainment. He transformed gardens and monuments to rice fields; knight's horses to chickens and ducks; swords and krises to farming tools; temples, shrines, manors, castles and palaces to farm houses. Everything there was green; the distinct smell of manure was everywhere. His kingdom looked so innocent and naive, even a little stupid. Just imagine a clown became a king, everything was the opposite of what was common.

But this new state was rapidly expanding, it swallowed the region of neighboring states without any bloodshed because people became citizen to this new green green grass kingdom willingly.

The attack of kings and nobles and godsEdit

Seeing the new state as a threat, and feeling the new king was mocking their kingly status because he ruined and turned all traditions, customs and habits of the nobles upside down, all other kings became angry. Even the gods became restless. But one by one, the knights and heroes and gods who were sent to subdue Sonyawibawa were lost and captured. Even the king of the gods himself lost in the battle against King Welgeduwelbeh. So, Semar, Gareng and Bagong were sent to take a look at the situation.

Arrival of the PunakawansEdit

Once they have seen the situation in Sonyawibawa, they knew that there was something wrong with this kingdom and the king. They recognized at once the situation before their eyes.

With his magical ability, Semar had no difficulties in entering the king's residence and appeared before the king.

"Petruk, Petruk", said Semar, "Why did you do this? Don't think that I don't know who you are, my son. Are you ashamed of your status as a commoner? Do you think that a king is more noble than a commoner? Get back to you consciousness, my son, get back to your own self!"

The end of the problemEdit

Seeing his father, King Welgeduwelbeh turned back to Petruk at once and said:

"O, father, forgive your son. I only want to know what it is like to be a king, everyday is only enjoying entertainment and eating delicious food, and not having a headache because of below standard salary, striving to make ends meet and unable to pay for my son's education."

Petruk went back to his own house and his own family, and handed over Jamus Kalimasada to the Pandawas, thus ending all the conflicts and problems caused by the amulet.


  1. The name Welgeduwelbeh Tongtongsot Upelgen is only a funny sounding random name with no meaning as Petruk is a clown character. Kanthong Bolong means pocket that has a hole in it.