Tips for Buying Balinese Woodcarving

by Sidarta Wijaya


Balinese culture has been wellkown as one of unique culture in the world. The unique and strong characteristic makes the Balinese culture are fits to choose as interior themes. Lots of philosophy attached on Balinese cultural product, but  if you use in good respect, that will enrich your home interior theme. One of the cultural product in balinese is woodcarving. Balinese woodcarving artist is one of the best wood carving artists in the world because of the original pattern design, works and finishings. Wood carving for the balinese are part of aesthetic needs, the Balinese place woodcarving as a offering to god or some one who very respected in the community. In old days woodcarving only use in respected areas such as temples and palace. Maybe in this article you will thinking about using balinese woodcarvings to enrich your home interior. Wood carving in balinese formed in statues, handcrafts, masks, furniture etc.

To find high quality wood carving in Bali you have to go to Gianyar regency, especially in the village of Mas, and Kemenuh. There are two main types of woodcarving. Traditional carving, in the form of bas-relief tableaux and plaques, are used mainly as decoration for doors, walls and columns and small highly standardized wooden statues od deities and mythical heroes also belong to this group. The second one is contemporary carving. The theme usually highly stylized human and animal figures, often grotesque and psychopathic.

When you buy a wood carving, it is better to dress casually, prosperous looking buyer will get higher price and don’t forget and don’t be shy to bargain, when a reasonable price is reached, buy it. Fixed price created for those who have no time to bargain. Study the item carefully before you buy it. Make sure the artwork is dry (free from moisture). If not, it will crack and mould later.Check for the crack and make sure all attached parts like wings, hands, feet are properly attached. Have the carver explain any discoloration.

Beware of imitation; if a seller claims that an item is made of pure sandalwood or ebony, there is likely a chance that his claim is 90% false, for sandalwood is hard to find and the price of ebony for carving material is extraordinary high. If you can, find a carving that possesses an inner life, a vitality of its own.

Antique woodcarving breeds other problems, finding an antique stuff in Bali needs a lot of effort. Truly antique woodcarving is rare in Bali, a visit to an antique shop is a journey to a jungle of repro stuff. Take your time when buying an antique woodcarving, study it carefully. It is will be better for you to increase your knowledge on antique woodcarving by visiting Bali Museum in Denpasar, or by reading a book on Balinese antique before you start to hunt for an antique woodcarving.

Always assume that you are cheated when buying antique woodcarving will increase your awareness and minimize your chance to be cheated. Ask the dealer how old a piece is. Ask a written guarantee stating the condition of the purchase.

Unfortunately there was a law passed by Government in 1993 to prevent the hemorrhage of antique treasure from Bali. The law states that any object over 50 years old is considered antique and must be turned over to the government. The only exceptions are old objects like Kris and carved stones.

2 Responses

  1. Thankyou for your wonderful writing style. It made for some great lunchtime reading!

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