Ground zero for antiques is the Kuta, Legian or Seminyak area where lots of shops are stuffed with dusty, dirty artifacts and stacks of repro. Look for the grotesque, primitive statues out front. Not all pieces are Balinese; many originate in Nusa Tenggara and other areas of eastern Indonesia.
Take your time. You may have to lower your sights and buy a clever, well-made reproduction rather than a true antique. Perhaps the only true antique left on the island is Victor Mason's polyphone at the Beggar's Bush in Ubud.
Before buying antiques, increase your knowledge as much as possible by referring to the reference books in the booklets and visiting the Bali Museum of Denpasar and the Puri Lukisan of Ubud.
Tribal artists don't experiment, but adhere to a rigid iconographical framework. If it's Dayak carvings you're after, study the art books and museum catalogs first. If the piece doesn't conform to the norm, it's suspect.
If you ask for a true antique, you have to always assume you'll be cheated. Be an investigator first and a buyer second. Looking old and being old are not the same. Pay attention to how the patina-the wear and tear, dirt and dust of an art object-was created.
A 'tukang' patina craftsman (seldom the salesperson) specializes in creating a convincing patina.
The seller will deceive you by standing the piece up in the ground, letting it rust in the elements, layering it with dust, grime, etc. Be on the lookout for other irregularities that don't make sense. With a magnifying glass, study the scratches on the surface of old metal objects.
The scratches should be of various lengths, depths, shapes, and angles. Scratches of equal length and depth are indications of fakery because they have been uniformly buffed, sanded, and polished.
Leave the really old stuff. A law, Cagar Budaya, was passed in 1993 to prevent the hemorrhage of antique treasures from Bali. The law states that any object over 50 years old is considered "antique" and must be turned over to the government. The only exceptions are those objects-like old Kris and carved stones-still being venerated.
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