Although there has long been keen interest in the arts and crafts of Indonesia, until recently, scant attention was given to the folk art of Java and Madura.  In contrast to the more well-known artworks from the classical Hindu and Buddhist periods - and later from the royal courts of Java - folk art pieces were made by common villagers for their own use as utilitarian or decorative objects.  The designs were usually influenced by ancient traditions and the objects were always made with inexpensive, locally-available materials.  Many pieces are quite unconventional and express an authenticity and dynamism that is at once colorful, mysterious and surprisingly offbeat.  To some, these works may appear quaint and provincial - to others they reveal the natural inclination of many Javanese and Madurese villagers to give character and beauty to whatever they make.  

      Kuda Kepang (Hobbyhorse dancing) - Java (1920)

      Courtesy Tropenmuseum - Amsterdam

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