Tag Archives: Temple

BALINESE WOOD CARVING

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Ade recently did a couple designs highly inspired on old wood carvings from Bali.

WOODCARVING IN BALI

The craft of woodcarving has never existed in Bali only for decoration purposes.
In the olden days, the fine arts of woodcarving and painting were reserved almost exclusively for royal and religious purposes.
Woodcarving has a very long history in Bali.

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TECHNIQUES

Woodcarving is a skill requiring more precision and sureness than that of carving stone. The carver starts with a clean block of wood which he cuts down to roughly the same size as the piece to be carved. Using very simple tools, the carver lightly taps the highly sharpened instruments. Unlike the technique used in the West, he does not use hand pressure except for really close work. Fine-grained hardwoods such as teak (jati), and strong fruit trees such as jackfruit (nangka), the compact sawo (a beautiful dark red wood), shiny ebony (ebon), tamarind, hibiscus, frangipani, and kayu jepun are the most popular carving woods.

The texture of the grain determines the nature of the piece to be carved. Dark ebony, particularly pieces with striped grain, are best suited for vertical shapes or faces. Rarer are pieces made of unpolished ebony (sanded and brushed only) where you can make out the grain in the wood. The blackest ebony might be used to depict a subject of great dignity. Satinwood, a light striped, beige-colored wood native to Bali, may inspire pieces of a softer theme. The grain often follows a skin pattern or veins in the arms of the statue.

The tradition is, if the statue is not to be gilded or painted it is made smooth with pumice and given a high polish by rubbing it with bamboo. These finished carvings were once treated and stained with oils to achieve a subtle gloss, but now Balinese artisans find that neutral or black shoe polish gives the same result and takes less time.

At the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) near Bedulu, Gianyar – elaborate Buddhist style carvings cover the entrance near the cave. This carving dates to 9th Century. Woodcarvings is largely links to religious tradition and  to Pura (small private temples) in Balinese home.

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Woodcarving for commercial purpose probably started around 1935. The Dutch traders firstly introduce Balinese woodcarving to Europe. Until now, a lot of Dutch Museum still have a huge collection of Balinese woodcarving. The Dutch take-over of Southern Bali in 1906-1908 not only destroyed the traditional courts of the island but it also shattered the old system of art production. There were new types of art showing up, and the artists made works that were commodities instead of items of religious use of content. This has an important impact on the production of carvings which could now be made and sold at tourist spots all around Indonesia.

For the best collections of Balinese wood carving, the visitor should go to the FA Siadja Wood Carving gallery in the village of Mas in Ubud. It holds a wide selection of carving from 1930s to current style worked in many different kind of wood.

– Lielo

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YOGYAKARTA – KI SUKASMAN / WAYANG UKUR

Our 2 month trip / vacation to Indonesia is slowly coming to an end and we will return to The Netherlands soon full of new energy & inspiration! A good start of the new year! In the past few weeks we went on a inspiration-hunt and we have made several small trips through Indonesia, we have visited many temples and several museums. We would like to tell more about ALL of the beautiful places we have visited but we decided to just highlight the best of them!

On our first trip to Yogyakarta, we searched for the story behind a unique artist called Ki Sukasman. Which Ade heard about a couple of years ago and felt that there was some resemblance in the way Ki Sukasman is creating art and the way he is makes his designs. So off we went!

Ki Sukasman – Wayang Ukur

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Ki Sukasman was a 66-year-old artist (he passed in 2009) from Yogyakarta who devoted all his life to wayang, the art of leather puppetry. What distinguished him from others was his view on the ‘traditional wayang’. A bit more about him and his artworks you can find in a long interview hold by The Jakarta Post in 2003. 

Sukasman has made a name as the creator of Wayang ukur, a new style of leather puppet. His puppets have been used in shadow plays at home and abroad, such as in Canada, Holland, Germany and the U.S.

Sukasman first observed the puppets as a little boy. He made leather puppets later in his youth, and graduated from the Indonesian Fine Art Academy (ASRI) in Yogyakarta, in 1962, majoring in advertising, decorative arts, illustration and graphic arts.

Since graduating, he has experimented with leather puppets. He strongly disagrees with the popular conception that the puppet’s form has already reached a state of perfection and needs no divergence.

As an artist, he purges his restlessness with the obsessive scientific study of leather puppets. He has tried to crack the stylization secret of the puppet’s shapes. Finally, he found a way to modify the form by measuring individual parts: the body, the arms, the legs, the neck and the shoulders. Hence the origins of his puppet’s name, Wayang ukur (leather puppets in measurement).

Sukasman, who worked as a dishwasher and did other jobs in the Netherlands between 1965 and 1974, has devoted nearly all his life to wayang. He remains unmarried and most of his earnings went back into his art. He owns a large house on Jl. Taman Siswa, Yogyakarta, which serves as both his house and workshop.

 

To read the full interview, click here.

It was not so easy to find the place where we knew about that you could still find some of his artworks. The first place that Google maps told us to go to turned out to be wrong… We asked around a bit and after a while we found a guy who could point us his house / workshop. We stepped inside, a bit unsure if this was the right place where we could find Ki Sukasman’s artworks. Inside the house we found a young man who confirmed that this was his old work space. He leaded us to the back of the building and showed us some of the remaining artworks and told us that all the original wayang puppets he made are now in the possession of his brother and some museums.

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When we walked to the back we felt like entering someones private ‘studio’, not really the idea of a gallery. On the side, against the wall we found some of the remaining artworks (engraved slate stone plaques). And they where absolutely amazing! Around 170 cm high, beautifully engraved, extremely detailed. It was almost sad to find these great artworks, covered with dust, put away in a sort of garage. The boy leaded us around and explained us what he knew about the history of these artworks and around which time they where made. 3 big rooms, filled with all these beautiful doors, statues, windowpanes. We almost couldn’t believe that so many people in the past where disagreeing with his idea of traditional wayang, these were masterpieces! A small, but impressive collection of some of Ki Sukasman’s artworks, definitely one that deserves more attention.

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Overall in our opinion, an amazing, under appreciated, artist with a very progressive view on the traditional wayang. If you’re interested in visiting his workshop, to see these artworks follow the directions below;

 

Head to  JL Taman Siswa in Yogyakarta, but don’t go into the small streets of the neighborhood but stay on the main road and you will find the Ki Sukasman’s workshop on the left side of the road next to a parking lot where you can park your car.

Because this is a quite ‘hidden’ place, certainly not a tourist attraction, there’s no entry-fee to see these artworks, but please grab a bite in the small warung inside the building to give some support to the people who take care of the remains of this beautiful collection.

– Lielo

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GOLD OF THE GODS – WORLDMUSEUM ROTTERDAM

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Last week I saw a news article online that they currently have an exhibition called the Gold of the Gods from Java at the World Art Museum at the harbor of Rotterdam. So that sounded like something we had to see!

– The mysterious world of the Javanese Kingdom remained closed to outsiders for over a thousand years, with only the statues hewn from lava rock at Borobudur displaying the wealth with which the Javanese rulers venerated their gods. The Wereldmuseum is bringing you a world première with its exhibition Gold of the Gods. It is a privilege to show you the most extensive collection of Javanese gold from the seventh to the eleventh centuries on display today, the beauty of which can barely be grasped by contemporary audiences.
On special occasions Javanese royalty would adorn themselves with jewelry originally intended for the gods, in honor of Vishnu, Shiva, and Parvati by embodying them. The jewelry itself was crafted by the most highly renowned goldsmiths, requiring not only superior craftsmanship but also spiritual knowledge as illustrated by the sagas and legends adorning the individual pieces and that portray the active role played by the gods in Javanese society.
The Wereldmuseum is proud to be the first museum in the world to exhibit this collection. Being aware of our tremendous responsibility not only towards the collector, but also with regard to the collection’s history, our aim was to create a presentation that will enable the audience to tangibly perceive the contemporary mysteries surrounding the works on display.
This production was made possible with the cooperation of the Princessehof Ceramics Museum in Leeuwarden, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and, in particular, the National Museum of World Cultures in Amsterdam and Leiden. These museums were willing to lend us several pieces from their permanent collections to enhance our exhibition. Additionally, the Documentation Centre for Ancient Indonesian Art in Amsterdam lent us several photographs of the Borobudur. We are very grateful for these valuable additions to the exhibition.-

 

Yesterday we had a day off and decided to make a trip to the museum in Rotterdam. It turned out to be a very impressive collection of golden jewelry from Java, holding some very exclusive items which we never saw anywhere else before. The set up of the museum is quite simple but classy. You can get really close to the items, exposed in glass showcases  to be able to see the extreme details and complex designs of this ancient jewelry.

Beside the exhibition of the Indonesian gold, there’s a big Tibetan / Japanese section in the museum. Showing a great collection of buddha statues in all different forms and size’s and a great example of a traditional Buddhistic temple. Even the Dalai Lama personally visited the museum in May last year! At the end of the exhibition you will find a gift shop, with a small book section selling a great selection of books about Indonesia,Tibet, batik, keris, wayang, the Pacific, buddhism, etc!

 

Ratu_KidulI was very happy to find this little book about Kanjeng Ratu Kidul by Ruud Greve, The Legend of the South Sea Queen. A Javanese mystery that fascinates me for years already. Soon more about this story on the blog!

Overall it was a nice, educative day out. We would definitely recommend this exhibition / museum to everybody who is interested in ancient jewelry or the Indonesian / Tibetan heritage in general.

You can still visit this exhibition till 6 April 2015.

Entrance: 15,- + free audio tour / CJP: 3,- / free guided tours on every Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For more information: http://www.wereldmuseum.nl/

 

 

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TEMPLE GUARDIAN INSPIRED CHEST

 

 

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click on photo’s for a bigger view

We’re already two weeks into the new year, time flies! We started fresh, full of new inspiration & energy!

Ade started working on this great chest piece a week ago. The design is inspired on the chest / neck ornaments of the guardians in front of the temples in Bali. First these statues were placed only in Pura (temples) and Puri (Royal homes), but nowadays they can be found in front of most of the houses in Bali. The statues are usually placed as protectors, on the left and right sides of the gate and have an important symbolism for Balinese people. Sometimes they look alike, but they are not identical. Often the statues are like a mirror image rather than an exact replica. For example if one statue makes a looks to the left, the other would make it to the right. Other statues that you can find surrounding temples and houses in Bali are mostly related to Hindu gods (and statues related to Ramayana and Mahabharata).

 

– Lielo

 

 

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BARONG BALI / NIGEL DE JONG

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There’s one thing that we can never say no to and those are these kind of beautiful Indonesian artifacts! Whenever we find a nice Javanese / Balinese mask in the thrift store or find a beautiful Barong statue at a Pasar Malam we háve to take them home. Our little house is slowly turning into an Indonesian museum, but it’s just so much fun to adopt these beautiful items! Above here in the photo you can see on the left, Boma, a Balinese protector/beast. The story tells that once he was a very powerful and destructive earth demon. In the ancient story, Mahabarata, Boma became a great champion and a defender against evil. You can find him above  most doorways, and above the entrance of temples and palaces in Southern Bali, mostly decorated with fresh flowers put behind his ears. His hands spread out to scare off the negative spirits. He’s regarded as being very strong and being able to overcome obstacles physical and mystical. In South Bali, Boma is always depicted with three curls of rock ornaments on top of his head and a bow of flowers. The other mask you see on the right is a Balinese dragon (Naga) wall mask and only used as decoration, to find the exact meaning of this mask is a bit more difficult. He’s part of the many dragon characters found in Bali. In the great story Mahabharata, Nagas are tending towards the negative. They call them “persecutors of all creatures” and tells us “the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of strength, and ever bent on biting other creatures”. But at some points within the story, Nagas are important players, frequently no more evil nor deceitful than the other characters in the story and sometimes on the side of good. They mostly show Nagas as having a mix of human and serpent-like habits.

Barong in Bali

It is unclear where the Barong is originated, however it is generally accepted that a barong is a physical manifestation of a protective spirit which guards people from evil influences. In Bali, it dates back to ancient, pre-Hindu times when animism was the most popular form of belief. It is believed that a Barong is powerful enough to guard an entire village with the main task of driving away the demons known in Balinese as Bhuta-kala. Barong come in many different shapes and sizes. Most are representations of animals such as lion-tigers (barong ket), elephants (barong gajah), tigers (barong macan), pigs (barong bangkal), barong sai (Chinese lions), barong buntut (solo/tailless barong), ravens (barong guak), goats (barong kambing), bulls (barong lembu), horses (barong jaran), or moose (barong rusa). Rare Barong are: gaint human puppets called Barong Landung (Landung means tall in Balinese), giant characters called Barong dawang-dawang  or Barong brutuk (in Trunyan). Barong ket are the most commonly seen Barong in ceremonies and tourist performances throughout Bali. Their dance is also the most developed. Most Barong are danced by two dancers, one at the front head piece, the other at the back tail section, giving the creature four feet. The ones with two feet such as Barong tunggal, Barong bangkal and Barong landung are all danced by one single dancer. Barong are decorated with hair or feathers depending on what village they come from. The magical power of the barong is said to be concentrated in its beard, which is customarily made from human hair. The belief in its magical power is so strong that if a village is struck by an epidemic, a priest is ordered to soak the beard in a glass of clean water to make holy water. This holy water is used to bring the village out of the epidemic. For certain ceremonies, many barong will be gathered together to be purified. There is even a temple in Bualu, Nusa Dua named Barong-barong Temple. Barong are magically very special to most Balinese and their powers are taken very seriously.

And after a successful football match last Friday between  Spain vs. The Netherlands we received a nice promotional photo of Nigel de Jong with his healed tattoos by Ade. Follow Nigel on Instagram for more snapshots out of his everyday life! http://www.instragram.com/ndjofficial

Good luck against Australia on Wednesday guys!

– Lielo & Ade Itameda

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SEE YOU NEXT TIME

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Sadly enough we’re almost at the end of our trip to Indonesia. Next week we will head back to The Netherlands, inspired by all the beautiful things we saw and with our heads full of new ideas! Now it’s time to go back to reality again and focus on what we’re going to do next. Ade is currently busy planning a ‘Europe trip’ and will probably join some conventions around Germany, Poland, Spain, later this year. Again, we don’t have any concrete dates and places yet, but if we know more we will inform you.

For now; Thank you again Indonesia! See you soon!

 

For Indonesian customers:

There where some people who wanted to get tattooed while Ade was in Indonesia this time, but didn’t had the opportunity. Because of that Ade decided that he might return to Indonesia later this year. We have no exact dates yet but if we have more details they will be uploaded here on the blog.

For the Dutch customers:

Thanks to all the people who send an email so far who want to get tattooed by Ade when he returns to The Netherlands! Around the 10th of June Ade will start sending out dates for appointments for the months June/July/August. Due to the big amount of emails there is a waiting list.  Please be patient! Try not to sent multiple emails. People will be added to the list in order of the date the emails being send, to be fair. It usually takes up to 2 (sometimes 3) weeks to respond to emails, due to the volume of emails Ade receives.

If you’re interested in making an appointment with Ade, please send an email to: thisis369@gmail.com with where, what and size, reference photos and if possible photos of the body part to be tattooed.

(Click on photo for bigger version)

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THE MYSTERY OF THE CHICKEN CHURCH

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Last week Ade and me made a trip to Yogjakarta, with actually one mission. Find the Chicken Church!

First I was not sure about making this post because something in me didn’t want to reveal the truth about this mysterious building. But because there’s so less information about this church on the internet, I had to share the true story.

A couple of months ago Ade read a status update of a friend on Facebook talking about a mysterious building called the Chicken Church located somewhere on the top of a mountain close to the famous temple the Borobudur in Magelang. I was instantly fascinated and I directly knew ‘We need to go there’. After checking around on the internet and Google earth (I was convinced the church was ‘photo-shopped’ into the map), I realized there was no one who could exactly explain anything about the history or function of the building, neither his age or exact location. I only knew this was certainly not a tourist attraction. I found a blog of someone in Indonesia who visited the church and gave a small explanation about how to go there. We decided to rent a car and see how close we could come.

We followed the given description and found a small gang leading to a even smaller road into a village. After wandering around for a while we realized we needed some help and decided to ask some locals. Easier said then done, because most people who live in small villages like that are elderly people. They live so isolated that they rarely have any visitors. Besides that they are always very happy to help you, but you have to accept and answer fully in Javanese (Very different from Bahasa), mostly in the style of ‘Aaaahhh yes! Here a little bit to the left… And then a little bit up the hill… And then you have to ask someone again…‘ You can imagine that those are not the most clear descriptions, but with a little bit of fantasy you can guess where you have to go. At the end of the road before we would really drive into the middle of nowhere we found a small house. We decided to ask the people if they could tell us the road to the church. They told us we only had to walk up hill for around 10-20 minutes and we would find the church ourselves. Parked the car and started walking. After crossing a very scary bamboo bridge and struggling for half an hour through the jungle we almost wanted to give up, until suddenly in front of us the head of the chicken appeared. I can tell you, it was the most surreal thing I ever saw. A 30 meter long, building in the shape of a chicken. Sadly enough we saw that the building was in a poor shape. The paint was peeled of the walls and the nice stone ornamental windows on the side of the church we’re damaged. The main structure of the church was still ok.

But the panoramic view was unbelievable. The weird thing is that your seeing something so great and that you want to share it, but that you are the only two people there. From the back of the church you could look into the auditorium of the church, that was empty beside some big white pillars. Because there was some sort of hole on the left side of the church, we realized that there had to be a whole floor underneath it. We decided not to enter the building because it simply looked to unsafe. In the ceiling of the church there was a big cross shaped ‘window’. After a while we decided we had to head back to the car before it would turn dark.

When we arrived in the hotel, I could’t get the church out of my head. Because there was such little information available, I needed to know more. The people in the village, told us it was owned by some Chinese business man who wanted to turn it into a hotel or that it served as a Christian Church, no clear explanations.

I decided to try to find any information on the internet and after being lead from one website to another I found that the church was also known as ‘Banyak Angkrem‘, which leaded me to a blog of a guy who was asking himself the same question as me ‘What is this place?‘.

The church turned out to be a dove instead of a chicken. His blog leaded me to an email conversation between a girl and a man who turned out to be the owner and builder of this strange church named Daniel Alamsjah. Finally some answers on all my questions!

Daniel was married to one of the woman in the nearby village in the 90’s, the story goes that one day in 1988 Daniel got a vision of God. God told him that he had to build a church on a hill in the shape of a dove. A place to unite Christians from all around the world. Every day God spoke to him in this vision . Until one day he decided to visit his mother in law who was living in a small village on the foot of the hill Menoreh, called Gombong. Daniel had a strong feeling that he needed to climb this hill, when he arrived on the top of the hill he decided to pray. ‘Was this the hill he saw in his visions?‘ He realized that he would never have enough money to buy this ground and build the church of his vision. He prayed and he prayed for days on top of the hill until he knew that God would help him no matter what. Within 6 months he managed to own 2,5 hectare of the ground on top of the hill and in 1994 he finally started building on his dream project. Due to the economic crisis in Indonesia that time, he run out of money and the sponsors who worked with him on this project him lost interest. In the time that the project came to an end he completed 70% of the church. Until today Daniel still believes that one day he will realize his dream project with the help of God.

What seemed to be a house of some mysterious, occult, society turned out to be a very ambitious, religious project of a man who got a vision of God.

Later I found some information on the internet that in the early days this building, in that time called Bukit Merpati, also served as a rehab clinic for drugs users. In the end, after finding out the true story it didn’t actually change anything about my opinion how surreal and somehow creepy this place was. Certainly something worth visiting when you’re around!


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Underneath here you can find a video impression of the church.

 

 

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