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  Wood Carving

There are two main types of woodcarving. Traditional carvings, in the form of intricate bas-relief tableaux and plaques, are used mainly for decorating doors, walls and columns. Small, highly standardized wooden statues of deities and mythical heroes are also produced, designed for use in public buildings.

The second type is contemporary carving, first developed in the 1930s. Themes usually include highly stylized human or animal figures, often grotesque, almost psychotic-expressing so well the Balinese fear of the supernatural. These symbolic carvings evidence a very strong, sensual feeling for nature.

For the most part, a purely souvenir variety of modern woodcarving is turned out now. Twenty or thirty talented and innovative artists have evolved their own distinctive styles, and-just as in Balinese painting-their successful creations are often assembly-line produced.
Fortunately, the technical skill remains high. A dozen or so places in Mas, Kemenuh, and Sumampan, the principal woodcarving centers, sell high-quality carvings for as much as US$3500 a piece.

Some 'galleries', like Ida Bagus Marka in Kemenuh, are actually large complexes of adjoining rooms containing carvings in all sizes, themes, and colors-from Rp30,000 to Rp10 million.

But regardless of commercial orientation, all carvings share certain characteristics and techniques uniquely Balinese. Even the copyists work strictly within the self-imposed parameters of an established style.

Virtually all woodcarvers and mask-makers accept special orders. Bring a photo or a picture of the piece you'd like copied.

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