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Javanese Folk Art Paintings and Figures

Art-Pacific (Carolyn Leigh - Ron Perry): Guide to artifacts

Javanese Folk Art Paintings and Figures from Indonesia

[Boy blowing dartgun: 32k]

There is a small, but lively tradition of painting and figures on Java. Sets of screens used as room dividers frame stories painted on thin sheets of metal or wood. One popular subject is the Javanese folktale of Joko Tarub, the farmer who stole the shawl of a goddess while she bathed with her friends in a spring near his fields. There are stories of Muhammand's uncle, who is involved in all sorts of adventures in exotic places to promote good against evil and protect the weak from the strong.

Figure 1: Detail from screen, painting on metal panel, possibly from the story of Joko Tarubl.

"Marriage figures" are placed in the bedroom of the home or on either side of the entry. The loro blonyo (inseparable couple) are Dewi Sri, Hindu goddess of agricultural fertility and her consort, Sadono. Other pairs are clown-servants from the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Many paintings depict scenes from it or from the Ramayana, often in the elaborately detailed style of the shadow puppets.

Glass painting probably derived from European colonial influences. Early artists were itinerant painters, but today's painters are studio artists. Paint is applied in a thin layer to the back of the glass and the finished work is viewed from the front. Glass paintings include portraits, epic tales, erotic scenes and the clowns in comic trouble in modern settings.


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Collecting New Guinea art in the field since 1964.

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Artifacts on this site are collected in the field by my husband, Ron Perry. I take the photographs, do the html, text and maps. More background in Who We Are. Art-Pacific has been on the WWW since 1996. We hope you enjoy our New Guinea tribal art and Indonesian folk art as much as we do. Carolyn Leigh, P.O. Box 85284, Tucson, AZ 85754-5284 USA, Art-Pacific at http://www.art-pacific.com/