VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Balinese dancer
ME1938.30.0037
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This particular sculpture has been chosen as an example of small wooden sculptures from Bali exemplifying that art before it became popular with tourists and sculptures were turned out in large quantities for the tourist market. It has been chosen despite the fact that it was pretty damaged and slightly repaired when acquired: a broken arm, a crack right through the sculpture as well as some other damages. The value of an object for an ethnographic museum is not necessarily that it is in a mint condition.

History of the Object
History before the acquisition made by Åke Kistner not known. Since 1938 it has been in the Museum of Ethnography.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Wood, colour pigment 
Measurements
Width 8,6 cm Length 20 cm  
Creator name
Not known 
Creator date
Probably early part of the 20th century 
Where it was made
Indonesia; Bali 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; Probably early part  
Function
In a collection of more than 600 objects primarily from Bali, but also from Lombok, Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi, there is a small wooden sculpture depicting a male dancer. The legs are bent and turned somewhat outwards, the feet, with the weight on the heels, touch the ground in a light springy step. The dancer is about to shift position and has been caught in the moment of movement by an unknown artist. The costume of the figure, the long waist shawl with its ends hanging down in artfully draped folds, the broad neck collar and the large decorative hair ornaments, is carried by many of the dancers in Balinese dance dramas. There are iconographical similarities with dress and decorations of the dolls of the shadow play as well. The sculpture is somewhat damaged, which makes identification harder. It may show a character in one of the dance dramas Gambuh or Arja or show a baris dancer. The dancer has a keris on his back cut from retwel wood. From the back the head has a Garuda like appearance 
Acquisition
Acquired by Åke Kistner (1908-1976). Between 1937 and 1939 he lived in Bali, where during the two first years, he brought together a sizeable collection which he donated to the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. 
Copyright
© Museum op Ethnography, Stockholm 
Acknowledgements
Tony Sandin, Ann Olsén and Ulla Edberg of the Museum of Ethnography for providing and adjusting photographs and for assisting in transferring the material to the ASEMUS web site. 
Owner
Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. 
Museum
Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm 
Credit line
Elisabet Lind and Nina Suatan for original texts; Johan Fresk for translation. 

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