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Garuda Wall Panel



Garuda is the magical eagle who is the steed of the God Wisnu, a God loved by the Javanese since the Hindu period. When Islam became the dominant religion in Java, during the 15'th century, the portrayal of the human body became problematic. The Garuda was one form that survived the prohibitions of Islam and appears in all Javanese arts, including architectural decoration like this fine example.

This piece would once have been the head piece of, either a door, a wardrobe, or a room divider. It is made of old teak, the kind of which is not found anymore. The back of the Garuda is rough and hand hewn, and the colouring of the enamel, together would suggest that this panel was made and used sometime between 1870 and 1940. It would have begun life in a village rather than in the city, by a village carpenter who had no curved blade carver's chisels and made do with straight edged carpenter's chisels to do the job.

The year 1870 would be the beginning of prosperity in Java after the devastating Java war ended in 1830. During the turn of 19'th to the 20'th century, there was economic growth and political stability in Java, allowing for ornaments being incorporated into architectural designs once more. In 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army the invaded the Dutch East Indies and Java was put under military rule. This piece would have been made and used before that time.

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