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Banyuwangi Cat



In traditional Indonesian art, the individual's expression is never as important as the strict following of the classic forms. Traditional art is always devotional or practical. This unique statue of a cat (or is it a tiger?) is definitely not the work of a traditional artist. Indeed it would appear that this statue was made at school, where students learning to carve would have had access to a variety of carving tools.

Up to the 1970's Indonesia's educational system put a lot of emphasis on the learning of arts and crafts. The individual's expression was encouraged as part of the new, modern, ideology. This statue as probably made under those conditions, as the artist's eccentricities are the strongest message expressed in this solid teak statue.

The face of this cat has been worked on most and the anthropomorphic expression gives it an endearing quality. The black paint might have been added on later, but the style and the content of this artwork would suggest that this was carved between the years 1950-1970, and was made in the context of the way the government's curriculum emphasised arts and crafts at that time.

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