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Banyuwangi Dwarf in nangka wood



In traditional Indonesian art, the individual's expression is never as important as the strict following of the classic forms. Traditional art is always devotional and/or practical and is never a means of individual expression. This unique figure definitely is not the work of a traditional artist. Indeed it would appear that this statue was made at school, where students learning to carve would have had access to a variety of carving tools.

Up to the 1970's, Indonesia's educational system put a lot of emphasis on the learning of arts and crafts. The individual's expression was encouraged as part of the new, modern, ideology. This statue as probably made under those conditions, as the artist's eccentricities are the strongest message expressed in this solid nangka wood statue.

The face of this statue was carved more deftly than the body. The two teeth and broad grin suggests that this is a statue of a panakawan, one of the guardian God clowns of Java. However unskilled the carver of this statue might have been, in the face we see the spirit of a clown God. The paint on this statue is the original paint and where peeling, the richly coloured nangka wood underneath is revealed.

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