Title        : Jentayu dan Kuda Kepang
Size          : 153cm x 243cm
Medium : Acrylic and Airbrush on Canvas
Year        : 2013

Written by Elaine Loh

This painting carries a heavy influence from our popular local ‘Jentayu’ folklore and crafts the mesmerizing Jentayu performing the elegant ‘Puteri Bunian’ dance amongst her army of kuda kepang.

Jentayu, its origins from the Ramayana epic, is brought forth to our South East Asia region and commonly told by our forefathers as a demi-god in the form of a vulture. Bunian are supernatural beings of Malay folklore who are invisible to human, yet lives amongst us in close vicinity. The Bunian folklore has always appealed to Raja Lope with his secret wish to meet them. In confidence, he too revealed of his youthful years where stories were shared amongst friends; bunian encounters depicting a heavenly realm of beautiful pure beings. Kuda Kepang, being a local ceremonial dance still performed largely in Johor, is a diminishing art in our current age and time. Essentially the hypnotizing kuda kepang dance is a traditional dance of warriors on commonly bamboo woven leg-less horse models.

In the fantastical world of Raja Lope, the artist relates the mystical Jentayu in female form, similar to the widely known Greek mythical ‘Harpy’ creatures which take the form of beautiful women with wings. Puteri Jentayu, the centerpiece of this painting, clearly accentuates the beauty of the female form adorned in our very own kebaya jarang (local female Malay costume of transluscent material). The commanding head-dress that she wears further defines her significant stature as a princess, carrying the gold element which is commonly related to our local royal colour and as an international symbol of wealth. She performs the sensual Puteri Bunian dance on her champion warrior kuda kepang. Her kuda kepang is notably superior above the rest of the army and is spiritually connected to her to perform the perfect dance. The army of kuda kepang takes the lead from their magical princess and her champion ride; thereby complementing the dance to accurate precision and elegance.

Again Raja Lope captures the contemporary factor in this painting, providing the kuda kepangs with a mechanical touch. With deeper scrutiny, these kuda kepangs take likeness to our motorcycles where the heads of kuda kepangs resembles tyre guards and body of engines. Here depicts the larger-than-life imaginative world of the artist as he inextricably connects our ancient folklore and cultural traditions, old and new lifestyle practices, enabling the viewer to search for their creative inner self…..where centuries old images rhymes in monumental symphony with our contemporary world of technology.