This splendid pair of loro blonyo figures are of polychromed, carved wood (probably teak) and are amply decorated with actual gilded silver jewellery set with clear and coloured faceted glass ‘stones’.
It is relatively unusual to come across these figures decorated with real jewellery. The jewellery includes rings, necklaces, hairpins and earrings.
Such pairs of figures represent Dewi Sri, the rice harvest goddess, and her consort Sadono. Dewi Sri is a deity associated with fertility and prosperity with her connections to rice and rice harvest. The figures hark back to pre-Islamic culture on Java and later were incorporated into the syncretic ritual practices of the Javanese. Traditionally, the figures were placed at the base of the canopied wedding bed (krobongan) to promote a prosperous marriage. This practice was initially restricted to royal and aristocratic families but the custom later spread to other societal groups. (The dress of the two figures is based on the courtly wedding costumes of the kraton (palace) of the royal court of Yogyakarta.)
Once, the wedding ceremony had taken place, the figures were removed and replaced by the bride and groom themselves.
Dewi Sri is shown with bare shoulders, a waist cloth (kemben), and a stylised lotus-like coiffure. Sadono is shown cross-legged, has bare shoulders, a batik kain (sarong) and a tall fez-like Javanese peci hat. His hair is beautifully delineated and is pulled behind his head in a pony tail. Both figures are embellished with jewellery.
Both figures have been carved with slightly elongated arms, reminiscent of the wayang puppets used on Java.
Examples of loro blonyo are illustrated in Tanudirjo (2017, p. 112), Richter (1993, p. 56), and Fischer (1994, p. 15).
Both figures are in a fine and stable condition. There are minor losses to the polychrome, the jewellery and some minor shrinkage-related cracking as might be expected. They are highly sculptural and decorative.
Carpenter, B., Javanese Antique Furniture and Folk Art: The David B. Smith and James Tirtoprodjo Collections, EDM, 2009.
Fischer, J., The Folk Art of Java, Oxford University Press, 1994.
Richter, A., Arts and Crafts of Indonesia, Thames & Hudson, 1993.
Tanudirjo, D.A., et al, Ancestors and Rituals, Snoeck, 2017.