A place in time where practicality and beauty were both one and the same thing.
Here is Pak Wayan. Ofcourse his name isn't really Pak Wayan. 'Pak', pronounced 'park', is actually the shorthand of the word 'Bapak' which means mister or father, depending on who is being referred to. And as for 'Wayan'? It sounds like the name Wayatt, but just think of it with a letter 'n' at the end. That is part of a naming convention that the Balinese use, for denoting the eldest child from the second third and fourth child. There are only four, Wayan/ Made/Nyoman/ Ketut, and the fifth child gets named Wayan again. So here is Pak Wayan, the eldest child of the family and son of a master wood carver. He has 2 younger brothers working in other places like the hotel industry.Pak Wayan’s job is a wood carver and also as the occasional wood carving teacher. As the oldest child in his family, it is more than his job to be a wood carver after his father, it is considered his duty to carry on the family’s heritage of being a wood carver. Just as heirlooms are only passed on from father to son, so is this art of carving wood Pak Wayan’s family heirloom to be passed on through the family.
So here is Pak Wayan, with decades of of woodworking experience in him, and probably one of the last few with such depth of understanding of the tools and wood that he handpicks each day to work with. From the inexpensive Hibiscus wood that when just cut is extremely pliable for carving yet cures into a sturdy lightness, to the carving tools that are custom made from bicycle spokes, tire iron and other assorted metal sticks. Though homemade, they are more than apt for carving on hardwood just as well as soft wood.
Pak Wayan is a masterful woodworker and his tool set shows the level of his mastery. There are over 30 wood carving tools in his bag, each one used for a different stroke or angle. The hammer that Pak Wayan uses is a beautiful tool made from Tamarind wood that has a naturally hard and soft side to it: the black part is denser and the blond part is softer.
What a great job to have, some might be thinking. In the changing times of year 2017 and counting, things are starting to look different. Here on this land scarce island with a booming luxury hotel industry and a brand new international airport, it pays more to be in real estate or even in an office cubicle however small, than to be a master wood carver.
In Bali, art and practicality are both one and the same thing. From furniture to roofing, ornate wood/ceramic carvings decorate all things, creating a very rich looking visual tapestry. Often the same motifs are use also in cloth patterning. The design of a Balinese wood carving is distinctly different from that of other countries, or even a Javanese wood carving from a neighboring island of Indonesia. Elements of nature like sunflowers and ferns can often be seen in Balinese wood carving as well as Balinese cloth patterns, usually with varying interpretations.
Pak Wayan can be booked for classes at WS Art Studio in Lotynduh, Ubud on the island of Bali of the Indonesian Archipelago. WS Art Studio is run by Ayu who is herself a master silversmith, and offers other craft classes as well like traditional basket weaving and Balinese style mask painting. The price of classes offered is really just a pittance sum for preserving the heirloom of woodcarvers.