Wood carving in Indonesia - a culturally rich heritage
Indonesia has been capturing the imagination of travellers from all around the world for centuries. Consisting of 17,000 islands between Australia and mainland Asia, this sprawling archipelago boasts a cultural diversity like nowhere else on earth. From bustling cities backed by volcanic mountains to lush rainforests and pristine shores, around 246 million people live here, and more than 500 languages are spoken.
With such a broad variation of cultural influences, including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, European and traditional tribal societies, it comes as no surprise that Indonesia is known for its many distinctive and beautiful art forms. One traditional craft which stands out more than any other is woodcarving. Wherever there are people living in Indonesia, you will find an abundance of carefully carved artifacts to be admired, whether as part of an elaborately designed house or a tiny, intricate sculpture.
For centuries, local carvers have passed down the secrets to hand-crafting the most detailed figurines, architectural details, masks, musical instruments and furniture. It is this dedication to the art of woodcarving, as well as the incredible array of trees found on Indonesia’s islands.
Indonesia’s warm, humid climate makes it ideal for a great variety of trees to grow, as a result, craftsmen here are used to working with a wide variety of woods. All of the wood used by PT. Hitam Dan Putih is, without exception, legally and ethically sourced. Traditionally every part of the tree is utilised, including the roots, a custom which stems from the ancient belief that each part of the tree possesses specific spiritual powers.
Unlike the mass-produced furniture produced in fast-paced factories elsewhere in Indonesia, a mirror made in PT Hitam Dan Putih’s workshops can take weeks or even months. Once the carving has been completed and the wood sanded, the piece is passed on to a gilder. An imitation gold leaf, known as Dutch Metal, is then laid onto the prepared surface using a brush. This delicate procedure is believed to have started in Indonesia during the 17th century.
PT Hitam Dan Putih’s partner company in the UK, Brights of Nettlebed, has generations worth of expertise in antiques and fine furniture. This wealth of information is combined with the time-honoured carving skills of Indonesian artisans to create the mirrors available today which are renowned for their impeccable beauty and quality. Each mirror is made to the highest standards following elaborate, antique-style gilt mirrors sold by PT Hitam Dan Putih make for magnificent, classic statement pieces in any interior and bespoke alterations can cater to almost all requests.