Evocative Bali Craft
One of the aspects of our short but interesting tour of Indonesia, which is forever etched in my mind, is the many types of handicrafts in vogue there. The crafty carvers of Bali have indeed carved a place in our hearts. From painting to sculpture to other forms, the craft magic was enchanting and wove us into its spell. I will talk about some of them here.
1. Stone Carving
From the time we left Denpasar for Ubud, we saw plenty of Stone Workshops, one after another, along the road. Stone carvings and sculptures had always been and still are very popular among the locals. One can witness it in any temple or building or even homes. Most places would have at least a couple of stone security guards wrapped in a black and white checkered sarong!
It is said that there is a rain forest scattered with mysterious stone carvings in Sulawesi which could be even 2000 years or more old. The legend has it that they were all once living beings and because of some curse, they all turned to stone!
2. Wood Carving
After spending some time in Goa Gajah or Gajah caves and the ruins of the Buddhist temple there, we were looking at the shops selling Batik stuff. The guide sent us a message saying if we hurry we might catch the wood carvers at work before they wound up for the day. We swiftly poured into the vehicle and in good time we made it to the wood carving workshop at Kemenuh village, Ubud and we all poured out.
Well, workshop is an understatement. This was spread over very large area. On hearing the artist at work, we made a beeline.
The carver was making steady progress, oblivious of the group of people poring over his shoulder taking pictures and at times with blinding flash. He was making a huge “Garuda” or an eagle (both in Sanskrit and Bahasa Indonesian) with its outspread wings. When enquired, he told us that it would take him around 15 days to create such a piece.
The place was teeming with wood sculptures, some even over 10 feet high, made of single log of wood! And all of them for sale and a few costing upwards of USD 300,000 for the more complex ones!
The artists work from memory, there are no designs to guide them. Much of the sculptures were of Gods, Goddesses, animals, birds and other characters from Hindu Mythology.
3. Bone Carving
This was indeed a surprise. A member of our group noticed several bone carving workshops along the main road in Tampak Siring village. Of course we had to stop and have a look.
The intricate work on these skulls speak volumes. The most commonly used skull is of horse, then buffalo & cow. In some cases antlers of deer too.
It takes anything between a week to a month to carve out a good piece.
I guess the pictures speak for itself.
4. Silver Jewelry and Silver wares
While not strictly carving, the Silver ware and jewelry making had a lasting impact on us. Nowhere else have I seen hundreds of artisans working in one place, each having his/her workstation complete with blow torch and other tools required to make silver articles.
I spoke via my interpreter and found from one such artisan, that she creates 10 rings in a day. The work needs concentration, and I could sense that our presence was a nuisance to their highly efficient workday. 🙂 They are salaried people and don’t get paid on per piece basis.
Another level is replete with a huge collection of silver stuff for sale from small ear studs to large silver decorative pieces, all bearing stamp of traditional and distinctive Balinese art.
Unfortunately Photography was not allowed inside the showroom. That means you can not photograph a finished piece.
There are many such silver workshops in Celuk Village, which also offer classes in this art. What’s more, each participant gets his own small silver raw material to work on!
I never thought I would be observing and writing about this face of Bali. There are many more forms of art in Bali and I hope to see & share them all soon with you.
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Wow that’s a super duper post!
did not know Bali’s this side. Thanks for sharing.
You are welcome. 🙂
Ubud is one stop solution for handicraft.
Thanks for sharing.
You are welcome Mahesh. Bali has much more to it.
Wow – absolutely gorgeous photos and crafts.
Thank you Kalpanaa.
Amazing skills these craftsmen have… never thought that somebody will carve on a skull of a horse….
And they are greatly admired and in great demand.
Hearing about bone carving for the first time. Remarkable talent there and so much beauty!
It was a first for me also, Arti. 🙂
Thanks for dropping by.
this is awesome work
These skills should be preserved.
They are trying to do that Rajesh. 🙂
Bali not only known with their beach, but also with craft too !
Absolutely! You have to see it to believe it 🙂
Bali is steeped in culture. Please await for some more articles.
They are very artistic and beautiful. The artists must be very talented.
May I request you to share some more photos?
Happy New Year 2016! May the new year bring more travel opportunities to you both.
Yes, the artists are talented and there is no dearth of them in Bali.
Sure, we’ll share some more pictures and articles.
Happy New Year to you as well. Thank you so much.
Very nice pictures and good article 🙂
Thank you Tanvi.
Amazing… Really nice love to share this with others.
The pictures are stunning! I had no idea that bone carving was so popular! Very talented people!
Yes Carmen, it’s very popular there. Even I didn’t know about it! 🙂
We tried the silver making and we enjoyed it. It was a different experience.
Oh really ?
We didn’t have time to try that. 🙁 I am sure you’d have enjoyed it.
Did you buy anything there?
Ah! So beautiful! Making silver and other jewelry is definitely something I would love to do. The Balinese culture is so full of intricate art and crafts!
Anna, I love to participate in these activities. I painted jars in Thailand, made fans somewhere else, learnt dance.
Very relaxing activities they are. 😀
Thanks for sharing. I leave for Bali in less than a week and I hadn’t thought much about the crafts. I’ll have to keep my eyes out.
I am looking forward to read your accounts of Bali. 🙂
Those carvings are so pretty, so intricate! Some very talented artists! I still need to visit Bali 🙂
What’s stopping you to visit Bali? 🙂
The stone and wood carvings are my favorite. I love it because you can really see the time and care that was put into each piece. Can you even imagine how much time it takes to make such beautiful art in the side of a stone wall?
No, I do not know how much time it takes but it depends on the wall size and intricacy of the work.
Wow–what gorgeous and detailed carvings! There are some seriously talented people out there! I really love the bone carvings–they are so unexpected and they seem so delicate. Very interesting post and beautiful finds. Would love to see some of these in person sometime!
I knew of other carvings but bone carving was first to me. 🙂
I really loved the dragonfly earrings – these look like gorgeous treats to bring home from your trip.
There’s a diamond section also. 🙂
As an Australian, visiting Bali used to be where we all went for a quick holiday, but never ever were we encouraged to see the ‘other’ side of this beautiful country. Bone carving is so cool, I haven’t ever seen anything so pretty and delicate.
Isn’t it ? We also found this to be unique.
So intricate and detailed crafting it has. Bali surprised us in many ways.