It’s a little bit challenging drawing Semar since he has different shape with other gods or human. That was actually the first time I draw fat-and-short character. Even he seems “ugly” (sorry, no offense), many people in Java admire him. In fact, he is one of the favorite character of a professor from Sydney. That’s why I create this painting for him as a gift for our collaboration class in Architecture Department between Sydney University and Universitas Gadjah Mada, place that I work for. Enough chit chat, here is a brief story of Ki Lurah Semar… also sketches, and final painting.


There are many resources of the origin of Semar. Some have similarities, some is pretty different. I will tell the complete story of the origin of wayang later.

Semar, was born as Sang Hyang Ismaya. Sang Hyang means supreme god.

Based on Serat Kanda, Semar is the son of Sang Hyang Nurrasa, king of Kahyangan (also known as Suralaya, the wayang world) He has a brother: Sang Hyang Wenang. Since he was born with ugly-looking, the kingdom of Kahyangan is given to Sang Hyang Wenang as Nurrasa’s heir. Sang Hyang Wenang has a son called Batara Guru (Batara means god). Sang Hyang Wenang lives as a guardian of the universe at Alang-alang Kumitir, while Batara Guru continue as the king of Suralaya.  Sang Hyang Tunggal becomes the counsellor of Batara Guru and his heir, includes people that live in the world.

Based on Paramayoga, Semar is the son of Sang Hyang Wenang. Sang Hyang Wenang married with Dewi Rakti. Instead of a baby, she give birth in a form of an egg. The egg transform into two person, Sang Hyang Ismaya and Sang Hyang Manikmaya. Sang Hyang Ismaya is (sorry) ugly and only reign in Sunyaruri, world of ghost and spirits. Sang Hyang Manikmaya reign all the realms. Ismaya has a fat son named Janggan Smarasanta, sometimes called Semar who becomes the counsellor of Manikmaya’s heir. Sometimes Ismaya possess (manjing, that’s the more fit word, sorry, I can’t find the translation in English) Semar. In this version Semar is Ismaya’s son.


Based on Purwakanda, Semar is the son of Sang Hyang Tunggal. Sang Hyang Tunggal has four son: Batara Puguh, Batara Punggung, Batara Manan, and Batara Samba. When there is a rumor that the throne will be given to Samba, three of Samba’s brother don’t agree and want to get rid of Samba. Since Sang Hyang Tunggal knows the plot, he punish his three sons by cursing them with ugly-fat-looking gods. Batara Puguh, the oldest, becomes Togog, Batara Punggung becomes Semar, Batara Manan becomes Narada. The throne is given to Batara Samba, which also known as Batara Guru. Two of the sons, Togog and Semar are sent to the earth, with main task guiding Batara Guru’s heir. Unlucky for Togog since he must stay with the “bad side”, which means his guidance will be denied. Semar always with the “good side”. Narada stays with Batara Guru at Kahyangan to give guidance to him, especially when he has a problem ruling all realms.

Based on Purwacarita, Semar is the son of Sang Hyang Tunggal. Sang Hyang Tunggal married Dewi Rekatawati and, just like the story on Serat Paramayoga, had a child in a form of an egg. From the egg comes three person. The eggshell, considered as the oldest, transforms to Sang Hyang Antaga. The white albumin becomes Sang Hyang Ismaya. The yolk, considered as the youngest, is named Sang Hyang Manikmaya. Antaga and Ismaya have a debate about who is the strongest. They use mount Mahameru (literally, Maha means great, and meru means mountain) to prove their power. Whoever can eat and spit the mountain is the strongest. Antaga tried first. He opens his mouth and try to swallow the mountain. It doesn’t work. And even worse, the mountain tears his mouth and change his physical shape. Ismaya try to swallow the mountain piece by piece. It works but he can not spit it. And even worse, just like his brother, the mountain stays in his stomach and change his physical shape. Sang Hyang Tunggal knows it and becomes angry. Well, in Java, king has absolute right to choose the successor, even though usually the oldest take the throne. As a punishment, Sang Hyang Tunggal sends Antaga and Ismaya to the world with main task as a counselor (as stories in Purwakanda)


So these are the summary by my version, or at least a popular story that is told as a word of mouth. Semar is the son of Sang Hyang Wenang (which later becomes the guardian of the universe, the watcher, the balance keeper, etc etc). He was born as a white albumin of an egg, brother of Antaga (or Togog) and Manikmaya (Batara Guru). Since he made a mistake, he have to repent by living his live on earth. Semar is a fallen god, or a fallen angel, supreme being that is sent to the world as a counselor, guiding people on the good side to stay on track.

That makes more sense to me. Born not-normal, transforms into god, then turns greedy, get punished by guiding people not doing what he has done. bad-good-bad-good.

Character name: Semar, Ismaya

Date of birth: May 3, 2014

Style: Yogyakarta

Media: acrylic on canvas, pencil sektching

Owner/ Location: private collection/ (still in) Indonesia, (soon will be in) Australia





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