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Author Topic:   Balinese Silver, An Introduction, Part II
Nyoman

Posts: 69
Registered: Nov 2007

iconnumber posted 11-24-2007 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nyoman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In this second part I would like to share some of the Majapahit era silver we have in our collection that exemplifies the very best of our ancient culture as well as being the foundation for the silver we produce in Bali today.

Items of silver made during this period are most typically formed by one of three methods, that being sand casting, repousse of hammered sheets, or lost wax casting. As mentioned in Part I, it is generally accepted that each of these methods was introduced to various parts of Indonesia by traders from India and China. However, there is archaeological precedent that the Dong Song culture from Vietnam was present in various parts of present day Indonesia as early as 2,000 years ago. Since the only surviving artifacts from that era are bronze, and in particular the famous Dong Song drums I only mention this for accuracy and the fact that lost wax casting methods were known here before the arrival of Indian or Chinese traders.

This first piece is a panel, very likely from a box or chest of some sort that is fashioned by repousse. It is extremely thin, thus my contention that it was likely applied to a firmer foundation and therefore unnecessary to be of a thicker gage of silver. It measures approximately 12 X 15 centimeters. It is dated to the mid 14th century.


I do not know the exact scene depicted in this repousse panel of silver, but it almost certainly is derived from either the Ramayana or the Mahabharata. Each of these classic Hindu epics from India played a large part of the development of Hinduism in this area and even today much of current traditional Balinese art is derived from these sources.

Incidentally, in case any reader is wondering, historical property laws in Indonesia do not forbid the private ownership of culturally significant historical artifacts by Indonesian citizens. What is forbidden is the sale or export of such material without the proper approval of the department of archaeology and the proper papers from that department.

Government resources for museums, ongoing archaeology, and preservation is limited in my country which is regarded and classified as an emerging nation. Personally, and as an Indonesian citizen, I see a lot of common sense in that approach in that it encourages the preservation and maintenance of many artifacts that either would be illegally exported out of Indonesia, or even worse, ignored and consequently damaged or destroyed. Here we have a term for such items, which is called Pusaka.

In future posts to this topic I will offer some additional items of silver and gold dating from what we consider our Renaissance period, which coincidentally, if not ironically, coincides perfectly with the Italian Renaissance. Kind regards, Nyoman

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Nyoman

Posts: 69
Registered: Nov 2007

iconnumber posted 11-24-2007 10:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nyoman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This next piece is a rather extraordinary piece that dates just prior to the Majapahit Dynasty, the era called the Singosari Dynasty, or the 13th century.

What is particularly amazing is that it still contains a small Sung Dynasty Qingbai glazed liner which perfectly fits within the cup. However, other examples of similar Sung Dynasty cups are known here, and without any association to being used as a liner, but as stand alone objects. I’ve always felt that the liner is original, as its outer glazed shows vertical wear that I account for its continual removal and replacement for cleaning. That is of course only conjecture on my part.

This is obviously decorated in the repousse manner with added granulation. Absent however are any specific or exclusively Hindu design elements. This is of course gold and not silver and of a purity of approximately 700/1,000.

This gold covered cup is extremely rare, as during this period internal wars and conflict abounded and very little silver or gold from this era survives.


This next piece is a silver Prajnamarimita from the Majapahit Dynasty and dating circa late 15th century. It is made in the lost wax casting technique and is further chased for finishing and details. This piece reflects the equal influence that Buddhism had on early Javanese history, and is still reflected in the Balinese temples today.

To my eye, though prejudicial I admit, this is as fine as any art being created in then contemporary Europe. This is an excavated piece found by a farmer preparing a new rice field. It is actually part of a hoard which clearly was purposely buried to protect it...most likely from the influx of Islamic people who surely would have melted it down. That comment is not meant as negative towards Islam, but rather stands as part of the historical record of Java.

That is all for today. I promise to post more things if you like. It gives me great pleasure to share my culture with you, but I do not wish to be an imposition.


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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-24-2007 10:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am sure everyone would like to hear / see more about an area of the silver world we don't have much exposure to.

Thank you for sharing.

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silverhunter

Posts: 704
Registered: Jul 2007

iconnumber posted 11-25-2007 05:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for silverhunter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nyoman,

Again wonderfull silver objects and a very good detailed information, for a while a was walking in a musea when I saw all the beautiful objects. (All musea pieces one by one) what a difference of ornaments decoration, splendid.
With each object there is a lot of history explained by you, beautiful done. I hope the Tara is caring good for you and your family.
Thanks again for all the time and energy to make such beautiful topics.
I'm fond of archeology!
Greetings Silverhunter from Holland.

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Nyoman

Posts: 69
Registered: Nov 2007

iconnumber posted 11-25-2007 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nyoman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah, silverhunter dari Belanda! (silverhunter from Holland), many thanks for your kind comments. Some folks, being aware of Dutch colonial occupation of Indonesia for almost 350 years might be wondering what is our current relationship? They can take 100% comfort in knowing that it is wonderful, and mutually fruitful. I am certain that you would agree with me without hesitation.

If you don’t mind, I would love to redirect your attention to the most recent postings on the Bali Silver Part I string to get your opinion about this tea set mentioned by member “FWG.” Specifically, do you agree that the forms of that tea service are inherently Dutch, and that some parts of the repousse decoration are mixed Dutch/Indonesian? I am not urging you to agree, but rather I look forward to your opinion.

And, as an aside silverhunter, not knowing if you have been to Indonesia, or specifically Bali in your life, once you have, you would get not a small amount of amusement of the adaptations and consistent use of Dutch introduced items in even the most humble of Balinese compounds. For one example, the typical Dutch hanging domed lantern, originally fueled by kerosene, is now a staple lighting device (electrified of course) in most all Balinese compounds! Of course there is much more, but I’m just having some fun, and I hope you don’t mind. Once again, many thanks for your kind comments and they are sincerely appreciated. Kind regards, Nyoman

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Nyoman

Posts: 69
Registered: Nov 2007

iconnumber posted 11-25-2007 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nyoman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr. Martin, I did not mean to skip over your reply without a response, but I sensed a need for more thought before replying. In my culture, short words can often mean something else than what is said. But, in that regard, I am very likely misinterpreting your post, and if so, I apologize in advance of the rest of my reply.

I came to this forum, as you well know, to learn more about western silver, specifically the American Gorham coffee/tea set, and the George III coffee pot that I just purchased. My intentions are to add more items of western silver to my collection because I am drawn to it, and because I see a mutual bond between western and Asian art.

There is a term, or word, for this phenomenon which escapes me as I write, but it boils down to co-existing developments in art and culture within disparate cultural entities and without any contact. Mr. Dietz will certainly know the correct term for this aspect in the development and “progress” of the visual arts.

Within the context of this approach to art is the concept that disparate cultures can, and often have, developed independently, but much the same. In other words, there often are more cultural similarities than differences, once one takes a close and unbiased hard look.

I fully understand and appreciate that not everyone shares this view. Moreover, I have no intentions of lecturing or encouraging radical views within a forum that was just fine before I threw out some other bones to chew on and think about.

Apologies offered once again, I am fully aware that this is your forum and if it is preferred that I just come and seek input and advice on western made objects, I can and will comply. If you knew me personally you would know just how flexible I am, my Yoga practice notwithstanding. smile Kind regards, Nyoman

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 11-25-2007 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I specialise in 18th century British silver, and except where it has relevance to that subject have very little interest in other silver. But parochial as I am, I have found this thread fascinating and a "must read". Very many thanks

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 11-25-2007 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
In my culture, short words can often mean something else than what is said. But, in that regard, I am very likely misinterpreting your post . . . .

Nyomen, Americans (especially men) are often sparing in their words, and usually say exactly what they mean. There is a degree of anonymity in internet posting, so nuances routinly are not read into the words of others; they can be taken at face value, and there is nothing personal intended in their comments. Scott Martin's words were meant to be encouraging and appreciative. Your discourses are thorough and illuminating, and all of us would like to learn more from you. We do appreciate the time and effort you put into your excellent presentations.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 11-25-2007 07:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nyoman,

I am facinated by your post as it adds a new understanding to the silver collecting. As a craftsman, I am interested in the techniques used by the craftsmen in the creation of their art and items of worship and utility. Please continue with your posts on the Balinese metalwork.

I find that it ones words can be missunderstood since there is no facial context or ability to hear the inflections and pace of the words.

Fred

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Nyoman

Posts: 69
Registered: Nov 2007

iconnumber posted 11-25-2007 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nyoman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
“Nyomen, Americans (especially men) are often sparing in their words...” Well, that surely leaves my Bostonian husband out! smile

In all seriousness, I really do appreciate the cultural insight. And I also agree 100% about the problems of communication on the internet, especially when that communication is cross cultural.

Mr. Fred, and Mr. Clive, many thanks too for your support and I promise to continue as I am able. It is very encouraging for me to read this support as I am obviously proud of my cultural heritage and I enjoy sharing it very much. Kind regards, Nyoman

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 11-26-2007 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cultural differences.
A minefield.
We never realise that even our mode of speech came be, by misunderstanding , offensive to someone of a different tradition.

If you live in the England , your cultural upbringing means you do not say "No" to any question where you think the requester wants a "Yes". The Anglo Saxon English will always say "Yes. but.....". He means NO but cannot say so for politeness.

If you are of Asian origin the correct answer is "No".
This causes a lot of the friction between the "native" English and English of Indian origin. The Indian origin guy thinks that " Yes but...." is weasely and dishonest, the ethnic Brit thinks he is sparing his friend's feelings. The Anglo Saxon finds "No" deeply offensive and rude. But neither realises the problem

Even styles of writing business letters is fraught. Some forty years ago I wrote a formal letter of minor complaint ( perfectly acceptable and the usual form in England ) to an American. It gave great offense and a lasting problem until another American explained the error of my ways. I asked my American friend how this letter would have been written if he had wrote it. Frankly if I had received one written that way I would have thought the writer was being sarcastic and very rude.

And the Indian guy, the true blue Brit and the American all speak the same lanquage . George Bernard Shaw was right !

We all never appreciate the nuances in our own culture - a fish does not realise it is wet.

[This message has been edited by Clive E Taylor (edited 11-26-2007).]

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silverhunter

Posts: 704
Registered: Jul 2007

iconnumber posted 11-26-2007 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for silverhunter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nyoman,

Short reaction between the lines(third trial).There are a lot of reactions at your topic, so it is difficult to be able for to react?.
I'm sorry but I am not a politic minded person and enjoy this forum without it. I only think there are a lot of nations which has suffered in the past and I doubt the future will bring change for the better, but I hope it will do.

I've looked for the topic about the teaset and it's difficult to recognize this set because I just started with collecting and try to learn about all the silver which are treated in all the topics from this forum.
I found it diffcicult because a lot of countries imitate styles from eachother.
Gold- and silversmiths emigrate/d to foreign countries, the use of falsch silvermarks etc.
So now I'm concentrate my now at this one.
I never have been in Indonesia but it's a totaly different countrie than overhere and ofcourse another culture.
Greetings Silverhunter.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 11-27-2007 12:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is fascinating. Thank you very much Nyoman.

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Nyoman

Posts: 69
Registered: Nov 2007

iconnumber posted 11-30-2007 06:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Nyoman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will be back here as soon as I can. As you may know, we are about to host the UN conference on global climate change. These next two weeks will be extremely intense and busy for many of us Balinese as we try our best to provide a perfect setting for this most important world conference.

Nothing of this magnitude has ever been asked of us, so we are all committed with our time, and our hearts too, to see that this conference is properly hosted. It is in our nature to accept that if anything goes wrong, it is our Kharma. Conversely, if it all goes well, then that is our Kharma as well.

Kharma aside, I assure you that we are taking every conceivable step to assure that this conference is totally successful. Kind regards, Nyoman

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