Balinese Carved Wood Hanuman Keris Holder
AGE:– Late 19th to early 20th Century
HEIGHT: – 64cm
WEIGHT:– 2.45 kg.
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This style of Balinese Carved Wood Hanuman Keris Holder evolved through the influence of Hinduism in Indonesia adopted by the early Indonesian peoples who focused on ancient mysticism, animism, and ancestor worship. Hanuman was one of the main characters in the Hindu epic “Ramayana“.
Indonesia’s people relied much on their religious beliefs to help mould their social and cultural activities. These objects were finely made and highly prized. Smaller objects, such as organs, textiles, and amulets served as potent tools in rituals performed to ward off evil spirits and help produce good fortune; larger objects, such as sacred statuary carved in wood or stone were used to guard villages and their inhabitants From birth to death, the life of Indonesian people is filled with religious ceremonies and activities.
Though life cycle rituals are common to numerous societies throughout the world, those within Indonesia became strictly regulated by adat, a belief in spirits, supernatural powers, and magic. Thus, communal life became intimately bound to religion and ritual. As a result, a variety of objects were created to aid in the performance of magic and ritual.
Statues were often depicted with bulging eyes, strong jaws, and in some instances status symbols such as headdresses, jewellery, and weaponry. Ancestor figures can be viewed as precursors to traditional freestanding kris holders in that kris holder produced especially before the 1930s are often carved with the same stiff and crouching forms, exaggerated facial features, and status symbols.
In the second half of the Pre-Hindu period (circa the first millennium BCE) art became highly decorative. Typical features include geometric ornamentation representing flora and fauna, such as stylized geometric and spiral designs, ornamented triangles called temples, Greek key-shaped patterns, swastikas, and symmetrical compositions.
These decorative motifs were the product of the Dong-son culture which began to exert a strong influence on Indonesian art as early as 500 BCE. During this time, animals like the buffalo and frog, human heads and mask-like faces and images of the “tree of life” became used as protective symbols
Heavy, curvilinear lines that further abstracted animal and human forms also became an important part of an Indonesian interest in creating art with a mystic nature. The Dong-son influence remained an important feature in Indonesian art for centuries to come. Its motifs can be found carved into a variety of Kris holders’ bases and in some instances, Dong-son figures are used as Kris holders themselves. For example, numerous Balinese kris holders take the form of a sacred frog. Holders of this particular character are believed to be symbolic of the lotus flower, with the frog’s body symbolizing the tuber of the lotus and the kris placed into its mouth representing the lotus stalk.
Chinese influence also became important near the end of the Pre-Hindu period (circa 250 BCE – 200 BCE) and, like Dong-son culture, brought new decorative motifs to Indonesia. These were highly ornamental motifs and were combined with the use of vibrant colours. Imported lacquer-wares were some of the first Chinese examples of decorative woodcarving introduced to Indonesia. The brilliant colours and use of curvilinear meanders and rock and cloud motifs, as well as ornamental floral and animal motifs, became common features in Indonesian woodcarving, particularly in Bali. The use of vibrant colours alongside ornamental motifs is found in abundance in ancient and contemporary Balinese woodcarving. Architecture, furniture, instruments, and sculpture such as the Keris holder, all feature these decorative motifs
PROTECTIVE ART OF INDONESIA
BALINESE KRIS HOLDERS FROM THE
COLLECTION OF THE BERMAN MUSEUM OF