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Madura Bathing Nymph in teak



Madura is a small island off the north-east coast of Java, and is inhabited by the Madurese people who are now devout Muslims, so finding a legendary nymph in nude from Madura is something special indeed! This nymph would be one of the seven nymphs in the Jaka Tarub story, where the young Jaka Tarub steals the clothes of one of the bathing nymphs and stops her flying back to heaven and marries her.

Although this statue is anatomically incorrect, the amount of work done on her would suggest that the artist worked with inspiration. 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 and is never a means of individual expression. This unique figure 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, although the detail on this statue would suggest that it was made by one of the teachers.

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 wood statue. This would date the statue as being made around 1950. The paint appears to be original, except the black enamel of the eyes and nipples seem to be a latter addition.

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