Everything You Need To Know About The Carving Art Of Indonesia


The art of carving or engraving is a decorative image with concave parts (kruwikan) and convex parts (buledan) that make up a beautiful picture. Then, the carving art is known as an art that forms images on wood, stone, or other materials.

Indonesian people became familiar with carving art since Neolithic, that was around 1500 B.C. In those days, fathers of the Indonesian have made a carving on a stone ax, the forging of clay, or other encountered materials. The motif and craftsmanship of the carvings in that era were still very simple. Generally, the motif of carvings was geometric that patterned lines, dots, and arches, with materials including clay, stone, wood, bamboo, leather, and animal horns.

In the Bronze Age, that was around the year 500 until 300 B.C., materials to make carvings have been developed. Indonesian used bronze, gold, silver and others. They made the carvings by using casting technology. Motives used in the Bronze Age is meander, tumpal, double helical, masks, animal and human.

After Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam entered Indonesia, the art of carving experienced rapid growth in the form of production design and motive. Carvings were found in many temples and inscriptions that made by people in those days. The carvings were also found on weapons, such as kris and spears, tombstones, mosque, palace, musical instruments, including gamelan and wayang.

Motif of the carvings described not only the shape, but also the story of the gods, myths, epics, etc. The relics of historical engraving evidence of the period can be seen in temple reliefs, such as in Penataran temple in Blitar, Mendut and Prambanan temple in Central Java.

Nowadays, the wood and metal carvings experience the rapid development. In addition, their function has shifted from the magical things into an ornamental motif.

By: Stewart Johnston