Tag Archives: Tree

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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MODIFY – MINI PROJECT

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Last weekend Ade, me and Joel, our good friend (and fellow photographer – 2XWORKS) went into the woods to work out some idea’s we had for a while. The week before we already practiced a bit on different technique’s and materials and this weekend we wanted to continue this mini project. It’s a quite time-consuming project and due to the change of weather we had to stop, but we will continue working on this concept in the upcoming weeks.

 

Inspired by the human urge to modify everything they see, eat, know. And CMT trees.

 

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– Lielo

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GUNUNGAN SHADOW PUPPET BACK PIECE

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Last week Ade stared lining up a big back-piece he will be working on. This time a very special ‘character’ from the wayang kulit shaddow puppet theatre, called Gunungan.

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GUNUNGAN / KAYON

Gunungan (mountains) or Kayon (tree) / the Cosmic Tree or Mountain of Life is a shadow puppet shaped like a mountain and represents the world and its content. On it you will find carved and painted, mythical symbols and animals. There are two types of Gunungan; on one version you will find the tree standing with his roots in a pond of water, which sometimes contains fish (female qualities) and the other one is one with a big gate guarded by two demon giants. They are the guards of heaven and represent the forces of greed and lust. The gate itself is the gate to heaven or perhaps a gate from the world of reality into the mystical world of the ancestors and the gods. The last one is usually slightly more pointed to represent the male qualities. In the tree you find many animals or fantastic creatures are depicted: a tiger, a bison, peacocks, birds, dragons etc. Resembling concepts such as pride, arrogance, and vanity. Half way up the tree is the big face of an demon, Kala / Raksasa , symbolizing the dangers of human life.

Before the wayang shadow puppet play starts, Gunungan is plugged in the middle of the screen, leaning slightly to the right. This means that the puppet play has not yet begun, like the world that has not yet been ‘opened’. Once the play starts, Gunungan will be moved and lined up on the right. It’s function during the performance is to mark the beginning of each scene.

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Besides that Gunungan is also used as a sign if there are any chances in the play, the stage or the story. Gunungan is also used to symbolize fire or wind. In this case Gunungan is reversed (flipped around) and on that side it reveals a huge demonic face with its tongue hanging out and eyes bulging. It’s consuming flames and fire. They evil energy is unleashed, it consumes and destroys. It’s energy turned negative.

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The Gunungan (the cosmic mountain or Tree of Life) has both practical and highly symbolic functions in the wayang performances. For example Gunungan can also be used to symbolize the jungle, a mountain or the ocean during some scenes of the play. In this case Gunungan can act as soil, jungles, streets and so on, following the dialogue of the puppeteer.

 

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After the play is finished, Gunungan is plugged in again in the middle of the screen, leaning slightly to the left, symbolizing that the story / play has finished.

The Gunungan shadow puppet is not only used in wayang kulit performances but also in wayang golek or klitik shows.

 

Click on the photo’s for a bigger preview!

 

– Lielo

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TATTOOS ADE

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