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

Indonesian Furniture

[Madura Island dowery chest (jodang): 31k]

Indonesian furniture reflects the rich trading history of the archipelago. Trade brought people and ideas from China, India, Portugal, Holland and Islam to the islands. These cultures influenced the indigenous styles.

Figure 1: Madura Island dowery chest (jodang) still has its inlaid mirrors, but this is unusual.

Village furniture is simple: decorated household storage chests, stools, low work tables and sleeping mats that can be rolled away during the day. The wealthy elites, both local and expatriate, created a market for more elaborate furniture suited to the damp heat of the tropics. Similar cultural influences, colonial European, Chinese and Islamic, combined in the New World in Spanish Colonial furniture. Some of the painted chests and cupboards from East Java and Madura strongly resemble the chests and trasteros from Spanish Mexico and New Mexico.

[Central Java lemari: 28k]

Figure 2: Central Java cupboard (lemari)

Craftsmanship ranges from basic farmer's stools carved from a single piece of wood, to finely finished, marble-topped cupboards produced by master cabinetmakers. Workshops associated with the royal courts and the major trading cities of the Dutch East India Company on Java produced furniture that combined curvilinear Javanese tastes with the simplicity of eighteenth century European classicism as well as Chinese and Indian influences. This hybrid style may have in turn influenced nineteenth century European Art Nouveau. An example is the large cupboard with gold gilt detailing from Central Java.

These cabinetmakers also made marble top tables, elegant chairs with woven rattan seats, carved benches for the waiting rooms outside business and government offices, massive desks, smaller, inlaid writing desks, elaborately carved and painted ceremonial wedding beds with secret compartments for valuables, low tables and home altars in the Chinese style. After Indonesian independence, the local Chinese were required to take Indonesian names, but some of the pre-World War II cabinets have small brass plates with the Chinese name of the cabinet maker inscribed on them.

Next: Indonesian Furniture from East Java and Madura Island

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Melanesian art TOC | Map of art areas of Melanesia
Papua New Guinea: Highlands: body art - Bundi tapa - jewelry/dancers | Karawari and Blackwater Rivers: masks - carvings - map | Massim: artifacts- Trobriand Kula - map | Kula canoe | New Britain: Baining - Sulka - Tolai dukduk | New Ireland: Malagan | Ramu River: masks - carvings - map | Sepik River: masks - carvings - villages - map | Papuan Gulf: masks - carvings - map - Gogodala - Kukukuku
other areas: Asmat | Solomon Islands: crafts - jewelry - map
art and craft:
barkcloth (tapa) | body art | cane and fiber figures | canoes and prows | jewelry/dancers | masks - Middle Sepik | phallocrypts | pottery - Chambri | shields | story boards | suspension hooks | weapons | yam masks - fiber | yam masks - wood

Indonesian art TOC | Dyak baby carriers and masks | furniture | Java folk art | Lombok baskets | Lombok lontar boxes | masks from Bali and Java | puppets

China: Bai textiles/art TOC | baby carriers | baby hats | woodblock prints

Collecting New Guinea art in the field since 1964.

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Artifacts on this site were collected in the field by my husband, Ron Perry. I take the photographs, do the html, text and maps. 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. by Carolyn Leigh is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0