The Lovers – Javanese Chest (1)

June 25, 2008

On the many islands of Indonesia you can can find incredibly beautiful hand made crafts – especially very filigree woodcarvings. This is the reason why so many tourists buy souvenirs which represent the country’s cultures and crafts, for us westerners a lifestyle with an exotic feeling, a completely different life. I have been attracted to these artifacts also, their intricate workmanship and they have become a treasure of inspiration for my own work. So how could I remain indifferent as an artist after those encounters?


The carvings tell you stories about the rural life in the villages, their people and their animals. Also you can find an abundance of the whole exotic flora in the motifs of the carvings and paintings. These were specifically intriguing for me because I wanted to utilize these kinds of ornaments for my own work.


If you have ever seen these motifs in real life you will never forget them. There is a magic spell on these tropical regions of this wonderful planet, regions which seem to own all privileges of a divine creation, which seem to have been preferred by all gods. For us westerners this appears to be the paradise.


But as usual this paradise has flaws if you consider the fact that the tropical belt it is not only one of the regions of this world with the highest population rates but also inherits the poorest countries in this world. To extinguish the dramatic poverty in these countries seems to be an impossible goal for various reasons which I do not want to extend here.

Although Indonesia is mainly a Muslim country with many other small religious groups such as Buddhist, Hindu as well as animistic religious beliefs, the lotus plays an important role throughout the whole archipelago.


The lotus plant is a symbol for purity as the plant never gets dirty (think of lotus effect). Its buds are often used as a religious sacrifice or is part of all kinds of ceremonies. And the beauty of an open lotus bloom is unforgettable. And btw – the roots which grow in large rhizomes is a well known vegetable in all southeast Asian countries.

The lotus bud and sometimes the bloom and the leaves as well are motifs that can be found everywhere in southeast Asian countries. You can find it on carvings, stone sculptures, paintings and textile art.

The lotus plant is specifically affiliated to Buddhism. The lotus bud is even one of the 8 holy objects and represents the course of time.



For the cover of the chest I chose the motif of a divine couple surrounded by lotus plants. Normally this would not fit into a Muslim country as to the fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran the portrayal of all living beings is not permitted. But as already mentioned there are other religious groups to be found in Indonesia who can practise their beliefs without restrictions and in general things are handled quite liberally.

pic 6


(will be continued)



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