28 April 2016

Balinese art in the Leiden Museum, The Netherlands

An art maestro from Buleleng, Bali, I Nyoman Durpa said a museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, stores various kinds of artworks from North Bali which are not even found in Indonesia. Many artworks such as leather puppets, and various types of old manuscripts written on palm leaves cannot be found in Bali as these were taken to the Netherlands. According to him, research showed that many works of art from North Bali were brought to the Netherlands during the Dutch colonization era in Indonesia in the late 17th century. The Balinese literature interested the Dutch people because it has high aesthetic aspect. They believed that one day, these historical artworks will become scarce. Durpa, who is also a mask dancer, added that the Dutch take serious care of Balinese artworks. Among the artifacts they have in the Leiden Museum is a leather puppet of Tualen.Tualen is one of the characters in the Balinese leather puppet tradition. Its character is similar to Semar in the Javanese leather puppet story. In the Balinese tradition, Tualen is described as an ugly old man, who has black skin, but is good-hearted, has good manners and loves giving sage advice. In the Leiden museum you can find a leather puppet of Tualen with minimal style of carving and without hair. In addition, there is also a miniature of Jagaraga war monument, one of the famous historical stories of North Bali during the colonial period. Also, there is a Banjar war monument and many old manuscripts written on palm leaves dating from the old period of Buleleng. Durpa noted that the Leiden Museum and other museums in the Netherlands are very concerned about the culture and relics of Buleleng, and Bali in general. In fact, the Dutch researchers understand more about the historical background of art and cultural heritage of North Bali than even the Indonesians.

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