The woodcarvers of Kemenuh
Kemenuh village hosts a large number of woodcarvers among its population, the main reason for the presence of so many wooden placards with “wood carving” or “wood carver” carved onto them along the village’s main street.
Most of the woodcarvers there specialize in crafting animal figurines, from the highly popular gecko to the formerly popular ducks and the soon-to-be popular angelic felines with benign faces and extra large wings.
“I learned carving from a friend and later on opened my own workshop,” Nyoman Abra, a resident of Tengkulak Kaja hamlet said.
In one day, Abra could carve 15 small-sized figurines and six large-sized statues. He sells the unpainted wooden work to an intermediary buyers for between Rp 7,000 (74 US cents) to Rp 15,000. The buyer will take the unpainted statues to several households in Tengkulak Kaja that offer painting services.
“In addition to using various brush techniques, we also employ airbrush techniques to render more convincing shades to the statues,” Wayan Sulendra said.
Sulendra is assisted by his wife and 13-year-old daughter, Wayan Indrayani, in running the small-scale operation.
“I help paint the statues in the afternoon, right after school hours. In the late afternoon, I go outside and play with my friends while at night, I study my lessons,” Indrayani said.
Another resident, 46-year-old Nyoman Repot, chooses to handle all stages of the production, from cutting the wood, carving, coloring, up to marketing. Her husband is responsible for the carving stage, while Repot does the coloring and marketing sides. She has opened a shop at Sukawati art market to sell her products.
The shop offers various kinds of statues, including Repot’s signature package of three different sizes of statues for Rp 20,000.
“Trading here is an unpredictable business, sometimes we have no buyers for the whole day. Sometimes; a wholesale buyer suddenly knocks on our door,” she said.
— Photos by Peni Widarti