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Story of Selarasa

Image of the story of Selarasa, 'Serat Selarasa' Selarasa and his brothers pay respects to a holy man

The story of Selarasa
British Library IOL MSS. Jav. 28, ff.13v-14
Copyright © The British Library Board
A high-quality version of this image can be purchased from British Library Images Online. For more information email imagesonline@bl.uk

This is one of the earliest and finest illustrated Javanese manuscripts known. Its exquisite illustration, in the traditional style, sets it apart from others of the period.

This manuscript relates the adventures of Selarasa, a Prince of Champa (in present-day Cambodia), and his two brothers. The writing and the illustrations have been executed with great care. The illustration shows Prince Selarasa on the far right, with two of his elder brothers paying their respects to a holy man.

The sage's daughter, Ni Rumsari, had dreamt that three handsome men would come to visit. Behind her stands a female servant from eastern Indonesia. The dragon-like motif on the first line of text on the left-hand page marks the boundary between two cantos in the poem.

According to the conventions of Javanese manuscript illustration, high-ranking people are usually depicted in profile, in the stylized form of 'wayang kulit', puppets from the Javanese shadow theatre. Figures of lower rank are depicted more naturalistically, the size of the characters reflecting their relative status.

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