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

Indonesian Furniture from East Java and Madura Island

[Madura Island gerebok: 31k]

Our favorite pieces come from family workshops in the smaller towns and villages of East Java and Madura Island. Small chests (peti kecils), cupboards (lemaris) and large storage chests (gereboks) on wheels that make them easy to move are typical of this area.

Figure 1: Madura Island storage chest with wheels (gerebok)

These pieces are for people who love to live with the bold colors of village art and the creative charm of small imperfections. The doors may not shut perfectly, the shelves may slant and the original water and lime-based gesso paints have a tendency to flake. I use these beautiful pieces in our home in place of built-in closets to store everything from bulky blankets in the gereboks to spare lightbulbs in the peti kecils. Our blue lemari was being used in Java to store old cans of paint, nails and several small, rusty motors.

[Madura Island lemari: 25k]

Figure 2: Madura Island cupboard (lemari)

Woods are local tropical hardwoods and the English translation is always that it's "teak". Some of the earliest pieces have large panels made from single pieces of wood. These are always more expensive, as trees of this size were logged out years ago. Joints are dovetailed, with nails and screws only used for later repairs.

The forged iron handles on the peti kecils and grobaks are usually intact, but the decorative brass fittings and locks are frequently missing. Some have occasionally been replaced with new ones, along with the rusted hinges. All the detail carving is done by hand, not machine turned.

[East Java peti kecil: 33k]

Figure 3: East Java household storage chest (peti kecil)

Colors are bright blues, greens, reds and yellows with white for accent. Islam discourages the use of human and animal form. This has encouraged the creation of bold, interlocking floral and geometric designs. Sometimes a pair of traditional lucky Indonesian dragons, roosters or small figures will be included, especially on the tops of the Madura dowry chests (jodangs).


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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/