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Lot 25

NIK ZAINAL ABIDIN NIK SALLEH

b. Kelantan, 1933 - d. Selangor, 1993

WAYANG KULIT SERIES

Signed in Jawi and dated '23.9.92' lower left
Watercolour on paper
56cm x 37cm

PROVENANCE
Collection of Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran;
acquired directly from the artist.


ESTIMATE  RM 15,000 - 20,000
PRICE REALISED  RM 14,300

The greatest love story between Seri Rama and his consort Sita (Siti Dewi) often gets overshadowed by the Good versus Evil battle in the Ramayana epic, or in this case the Malay version called Hikayat Seri Rama, with its adaptations and local accretions. Rama is also said to be the reincarnation of the Hindu deity, Vishnu. When he was banished, Sita unquestionably followed him into the forest and was kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa of Lanka. Also, the heroic feats of Rama and the “they-live-happily-ever-after” fairy-tale conveniently make no mention that he subjected Sita to the test of burning herself alive as proof of her fidelity. This fact resulted in the usage of the colour red after the God of Fire, Agni Dev. This epic in its various forms has such a strong influence over India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia that is it no wonder that UNESCO designated wayang kulit as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 7, 2003. In practical terms, the painting is believed to have been done much earlier than the inscribed date that it was purported to have been completed.

Hailed the Painter of the Epics, Nik Zainal Abidin was the pioneer who transferred the wayang kulit leather puppets and its legends onto canvas. He is also known for his design of the Kunci Ibu Kota, the cokmar (royal mace) and the royal throne for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1960 and the mural for the West Wing of the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. He worked as a set designer for RTM from the 1960s until his retirement in 1987. He won First Prize in the Joy of Living Exhibition in 1964 and the Merdeka Exhibition in 1967. He became a member of the Wednesday Art Group, which was formed in 1955 and was selected for a German cultural tour in 1970.