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Silver and gold smithing traditions Celuk village

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« on: February 09, 2008, 03:29:36 am »

Silver and gold smithing traditions alive in Celuk village

The creation of jewelry has always been linked to religious and ancient beliefs in Bali where the line between the temporal and spiritual world blur.

In Celuk village,  between Batubulan and Sukawati on the Ubud road, just an hour from Nusa Dua, the sounds of hammering, chiseling and filing echo from almost every house in the neighborhood.

The village has been renowned as Bali’s center for home-based jewelry manufacture for hundreds of years, today evolving into a prominent jewelry making center with clients coming from all over the world.

Dozens of art galleries and jewelry shops line the village streets, their shop windows displaying a vast array of silver and gold jewelry and crafts. 

As the island’s jewelry production center, the range in products and designs is vast with silver and gold earrings, necklaces, pendants, brooches, rings, bracelets, and other accessories.

The work is distinctly Balinese; religion and belief informing design and cultural heritage distinctively marking these creations.

Intricate batik-like carving is a hallmark of much of the work and becomes the central theme of a large hair pin, worn by men and women for certain ceremonies.

Many designs are inspired by ancient Balinese mythology; others are highly contemporary with Western influences in the design elements. 
Regardless of the designs, the centuries-old craftsmanship is still clearly reflected in the quality of the jewelry produced in the village.

Traditionally, the manufacture of metal products could only be undertaken by members of  the Pande (smith) clan, but the rapid growth in business opportunities has drawn almost every family in the village, and even “outsiders,” into the jewelry making industry in Celuk. 

From this little Balinese village, these had-made works of art in miniature are exported to some of the largest cities in the world.

“We create superb hand-made silver crafts and jewelry to meet the demand of the world’s upscale jewelry markets in Tokyo, London and New York,” said Runi Palar, one of Indonesia’s most respected jewelry designers and producers.

Her company, Runa Jewelry with offices in Batubulan, Bali, and Bandung in  West Java, produces masterpieces of jewelry.

Another jewelry maker, Desak Nyoman Suarti, with her company Suarti Collection, embarked on the perfect hybridization of traditional and contemporary jewelry designs. Beautifully crafted by hand, Suarti’s collections are worn by women around the world.

“Our jewelry is made as ‘wearable art forms,” Suarti said.

The present export-oriented silver and gold jewelry industry was started by the Pande (smith) clan, and today almost every home in Celuk village has at least a small silver and gold smithing studio.

Bali’s silver and gold smithing dates back centuries to around the fifth century.

The art of metal work arrived in Indonesia during the Bronze Age from Southern Chinese and Southeast Asian areas. Bronze drums, dating from as early as the fifth century BC, have been found throughout the archipelago, and some of them are believed to have been cast in Bali.
But no one knows the origin of the Balinese goldsmith Pande clan.

Ancient Hindu lontars (books of inscriptions written on palmyra leaves) tell of the mythical history of the arts. In one, the gods were sent to Earth to teach men how to behave.

The god Mahadewa trained the goldsmiths and silversmiths while Sang Citra gave them specific instruction in jewelry making. Smiths who worked with precious metals were called, "pande mas," goldsmiths, from then on.

Another lontar inscription, tells that a Brahmin, Empu Sari, from the Javanese Majapahit Empire first taught the Balinese to work gold. Yet another calls the first goldsmith Sang Mangkukuwan, or eldest son of Vishnu, the god of creator.

The clan’s craftsmen catered to aristocrats in the nearby court in Gianyar regency and the noble houses of Sukawati and Ubud. Historically, the Royal Courts of Bali were avid patrons of the arts, which they viewed as expressions of their sacred and temporal power.

Today it is still only members of the Pande Clan who are entrusted with the creation of sacred ritual paraphernalia used by Hindu high priests in various major rituals. 

Balinese smiths still produce beautiful silver and gold ornaments for domestic use but the majority of production is silver work for the export market. International demand has grown so rapidly that new centers of production have sprung up in Denpasar and Kuta.

In recent years, Celuk has absorbed young people from diverse backgrounds who train and work side by side with others whose families have been working with precious metals for hundreds of years. There has also been a significant influx of silver and goldsmiths from the island of Java.

“Even young women are now working in the workshop,” said a producer. In the past, women were not allowed to produce silver and gold ornaments.

The multi-million dollar home-based industry is today a vital element in the economy of Celuk and nearby areas.(Rita A.Widiadana)

Link to the Jakarta Post
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