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Banyuwangi Mahogany Mermaid



The people of Banyuwangi, on the East end of the island of Java, consider themselves to be different from the Javanese, and call themselves the Osing. Although now Banyuwangi is predominantly Muslim, it was in this region that the last Java Hindu kingdom of Blambangan stood. The people of Banyuwangi are proud of their rich art and cultural heritage and many Osing claim that the world famous Balinese dance and theatre actually originated in Banyuwangi. Banyuwangi is a region with a wealth of folk art.

This particular piece of folk art demonstrates the influence of the Western idea of a mermaid, with the pointed Western nose. However, the carver was too modest to carve the bust in the same detail as the face, and instead, clothed the mermaid in something that appears to be a T-shirt!

This mahogany mermaid is around 75 cm long and 15 cm at its widest point. It appears to have been made in the late 20'th century. It was collected by Thierry Durieux in Banyuwangi in the early 1980's.

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