Yogyakarta is the major tourist area
on the island of Java in Indonesia and with the small town of
Kotagede (now one major populace) was the home of the last emperor and
the major center
of classical Javanese art and culture such as silver manufacture,
batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and Wayang (puppet shows)
In the late 1800's many Dutch settled in the area as the Dutch claimed
Indonesia to be part of their empire.
The silversmiths in the area used to cater primarily to the Emperor and
the nobility and produced some awesome silver work.
However from about 1900 to 1930 the economy of the area was very poor
and the traditional customers could not afford to commission new
The Dutch settlers wanted silver that was similar to what was available
in Europe. Design books and examples were brought to the island
and gradually the silversmiths were able to provide silverwork more to
the Dutch taste as they became the major buyers.
In 1930, under the leadership of Dutch colonist, Mrs. Van Gesseler
Verschuir, the remaining silversmiths created a commission
promote the silver trade and to
respond to the increasing tourist trade.
This was part of a broader attempt to save the traditional Java crafts
under the umbrella of the Pakarjan Ngajogjakarta Foundation.
The exensive floral decorations are usually tendrils and leafs and
flowers (often the red lotus). Peacock designs are also common
The first four exhibits in this series show silver from the 1925 to
The more touristy type of silver shown is dates from the 1935 to 1970
era (no substantial silverwork was produced during WW2)
These pieces are all 800 purity silver
When the silversmiths were organized, they settled on the 800 standard
which was the typical central European standard rather the higher
standards used by the Dutch.
The purity was checked before items could be sold in the silversmith
As you can see these pieces are very large and very heavy. I have
included a ruler at the bottom and a standard sized tea spoon on the
right so you can guage size.
Detail photos of the bowls are shown below
All of the work was done by hand including the extensive engraving and
very extensive cutout work.
click for information on how
cutout silverwork is done.
Left: I suspect that this server was designed for vegetables.
Wayang puppet finial is finished on both sides
center: Very long handled spoon was probably used as a
claret spoon or for getting food from deep canisters. Puppet figure
finished on both sides
right: Probably designed for serving flapjacks or associated flat type
foods. Puppet finial finished on both sides.
Notice the incredible amount of detail cutout work in the bowl and how
the center wayang puppet is cutout to highlight the figure.
I have reversed the photo so that the figure is right side up.
the puppet is surrounded by traditional foilage.
Again notice the large amount of cutout work and the wayang puppet is
surrounded by extensive vines.
Click to see the next exhibit in this series
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