• Crystal clear water at Uluwatu Beach

    Surfers come to Uluwatu to tackle the highest waves of Bali. Not a surfer? You can still jump into the tropical water for a wonderful swim too.

  • Rice fields of Bali

    Travel through Bali and be amazed at the beautiful rice fields. From fresh green seedlings
    to yellow plants ready for harvest.

  • Temple Ulun Danu Bratan

    Visit temples at the most beautiful locations: perched on a cliff, located in sea, at a lake or
    right in the shadows of the mystical Mount Agung.

  • Colourful Baskets

    The Balinese are preparing religious offerings every day. Whether it is for the small daily offerings or for big temple ceremonies. Everywhere you will see women balancing
    colourful baskets on their heads full of offerings.

The story behind the Bali Wood Carvings


Just like stone statues, Bali wood carvings are found everywhere on the island. You can see wooden statues placed as decorations in temple complexes however these handicrafts can also be found in decorated doors, in beams of buildings, in accessories such as bowls, spoons and in furniture.

 

bali wood carvings statues
One of the many popular souvenirs from Bali...

 

Just like any other form of art on the island wood carvings were only found as decorations in temples, pavilions, shrines and palaces. Statues of demons, gods and heroes would be made out of wood or they were carved in wooden panels for religious purposes only.

In the Balinese living quarters none of these decorations were found until foreign travelers around the 1920's took interest in this beautiful art form.

This triggered the Balinese wood carvers to create new forms of carvings which were highly appreciated by foreigners.

Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet, two European artist who had already influenced the changes in Balinese paintings and dances supported the idea of creating wood carvings as a source of extra income.

 

temple bali wood carvings
In the past wood carvings were only used as temple decorations such as in the pavilion

bali wood carvings at temple
or as wall decorations...

This led to the start of the 'Modern Style' where carvers would create statues of daily life, some realistic while others very funny. Wood carvers would copy each other leading to a quick development of this new style. Ironically though this led to a decline of the quality of wood carvings.

Again Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet stepped in and together with the royal family they created the artists' association 'Pita Maha'. All types of artists would go to this association to present their work in order to receive feedback and to keep standards high.

This way more artists were stimulated to create their own style resulting in different types of woodcarvings.

 

bali wood carvings shops
Even tough it seems like mass production, these statues are hand made....

 

Today you can find many different styles in Bali. One of the most popular is the 'Elongated Style' which uses fine hardwood which is smoothly sanded. The statue has soft contours and it keeps its natural wooden colour. The most famous wood carvers who've created work in this type of style are from the village of Mas.

Other styles are the 'Driftwood Style' where parts of the wood are carved into animals, demons and plants while the rest of the wood remains untouched.

Many of the artists find their inspiration from abroad and mostly incorporate Chinese and Indian influences into their works.

 

woodcarved door in bali
Besides statues wood carvings are also found
in doors and window frames

 

If you want to see more different styles of wood carvings and learn about the famous Balinese artists who have created them then you can visit a well known museum in Ubud where everything is beautifully displayed. Besides wood carving this musuems also display many other forms of Indonesian art.

For those who love to shop for high quality wood carvings you can find these in art shops and galleries while at the market there is a huge selection of souvenirs to take home. Great places to do some shopping for the latter option are for instance at the markets in Ubud and Sukwati along the road to Ceking.


Home > Bali Handicrafts > Bali Wood carvings

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