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Jakarta Post

Blessing of the cross

Sun, April 16, 2017   /   09:40 am
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    A man works on recycled teak which will be cut into the size of a cross, starting from 5 centimeters to 45 cm in height. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    Various chisels and miser tools are arranged neatly on the wall. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    Widodo’s Kalvari workshop is located in Mireng village in Trucuk, Klaten, Central Java. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    Two men work on making crosses at Widodo’s workshop. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    A worker sets the air pressure of a paint sprayer. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    A worker paints a cross to highlight the woods fiber before spraying it with a clear coating. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    The acrylic molds are being dried. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    A Corpus Christi cross is made of resin. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    Already painted Jesus statues are ready to be put on crosses. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

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    The INRI signs are ready to be put on crosses above the statue of Christ. JP/Magnus Koeshendratmo

Roman Catholic churches are decorated with ornaments, such as a rosary, the cross, sculptures and many others. The cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus.

Catholics use statues, paintings and other artistic ornaments to commemorate certain events or help with teaching.

Seeing demand for the cross as an opportunity, 45-year-old Widodo Kalvari started a business producing the Christian cross in his village in Mireng, Trucuk, Klaten regency, Central Java, 20 years ago.

Relying on his business instinct, Widodo also produced other artistic ornaments, such as sculptures.

However, a Catholic family only needs one or two sculptures, but they typically want more than one or two crosses to put up on walls or desks.

Widodo can produce at least 2,000 crosses a month. Demand for various kinds of crosses can double at Easter.

"Various types of the corpus cross are sent to Timor Leste," he said.

The neighboring country is Widodo’s main market. So far, he does not export his crafts himself but through other parties. Starting in 2018, he plans to export his products directly.

Despite the promising market, Widodo is facing challenges, including from China. However, the availability of raw material in his neighborhood makes him competitive in terms of price.

The prices of his Corpus Christi crosses are relatively low. He usually sells them from Rp 8,000 (60 US cents) for a 10-centimeter-high cross to Rp 35,000 for a 45-cm cross.

"The availability of affordable materials by processing waste material is [my] strategy," he said.

 The cross has become a symbol of success for Widodo. [yan]