Jepara Carving, Indonesia

One image that has been so entrenched in Jepara is a predicate as the “City of Carving”. Wood carving has become an idiom Maya Raden Kartini’s hometown, Jepara, and even yet there are other cities that deserve to be called commensurate with industry to craft furniture from Jepara carving. But for this, Jepara has tread a very long journey. Since the golden age of Hindu countries in Central Java, Jepara has been known as a port north coast of Java, which also serves the communication gateway between the Javanese kingdom of China and India premises.

Similarly, when the first Islamic kingdom in Demak, Jepara has been made as well as the northern port and trading center of the war fleet base. In the spread of Islam, Jepara also used as the “devotion” Sunan Kalijaga who developed a wide range of art including sculpture.

Another factor for the background ofthe development of the Jepara wood carving are immigrants from China who later settled. In the record of the history of wood carving also can not be removed from the role of Queen Kalinyamat. During her reign she had a vizier named “Sungging Badarduwung” which comes from the State Campa Patih chisel proved an expert who volunteered to teach his skill to the community surrounding. The evidence can still be seen from the reign of Queen Kalinyamat sculpture. This is the carving stone ornament  in the Mantingan Mosque.

In addition, the role of Maya Raden Kartini in developing the art of carving is also very big. Maya Raden Kartini who see the lives of the craftsmen was also moved from poverty, inner piqued, so she determined to raise the life of the craftsmen. He called several craftsmen from rear mount (now become Mulyoharjo village) under the leadership of Singowiryo, to jointly make the carving on the back of regency. By Maya Raden Kartini, they were asked to make various types of carving, such as chest seam, ketch table, picture frames, cigarette, place jewelry and other souvenir items. The goods were then sold by Raden Kartini Maya to Semarang and Batavia (now Jakarta), so it was found that Jepara carving is very famous.

After many orders were coming, the result of increased production of the craftsmen Jepara type bridal chairs, wind archery equipment, and the bridal bed room divider as well as various types of guest chairs and dining chairs. Maya Raden Kartini also begun to introduce Jepara carving out of the country. Raden Kartini Maya gave souvenirs to her friend abroad. Consequently carving continues to grow and orders kept coming. All sales of goods, after deducting of cost production and postage, the money handed over intact to the craftsmen.

To support the development of Jepara carving that has been initiated by Maya Raden Kartini, in 1929 arose the idea of some of the natives to establish a vocational school. Right at the date of July 1, 1929, majoring in carpentry school furniture and sculpture opened in the name of “Openbare Ambachtsschool” which later evolved into the State Technical School and then became Middle School Craft Industry Affairs.

Given these vocational schools, crafts and carving broaden in society and the more children entered the carving school in order to gain proficiency in the field of furniture  and sculpture. Inside this school to be taught a variety of designs and decorative Indonesia carved motifs which was originally not known by the people of Jepara. The characters who have contributed in the development of educational institutions through this motif is Raden Ngabehi Projo Sukemi which develops motifs of Majapahit and Pajajaran and Raden Ngabehi Wignjopangukir developed Pajajaran and Balinese motifs.

Increasing numbers of motifs carved controlled by the craftsmen of Jepara, Jepara carving furniture increasingly in demand. The traders began to exploit this opportunity, to get new goods to meet consumer demand, both located in the overseas.

Jepara community capacity in the field of wood carving is also tinged with a legend. Narrated, in ancient times there is an artist named Ki Adi Sungging Luwih who lives in a kingdom. The fame of these artists are heard by the king who then ordered the empress picture. Long story short, Ki Sungging successfully complete the order properly. But when he would add a black color on the hair, black ink had splashed at groin section of the empress image so it looks like a mole. This image was later handed over to the king who was very impressed on the work of Ki Sungging.

But the king also suspicious because he saw a mole at the base of thigh. Ki Sungging had been expected to see naked empress. Therefore, the king intends to punish Ki Sungging by making sculpture in the air with the kite. At the appointed time ki Sungging on the kite with the completion of a chisel to make a statue of the empress.

But because the wind was blowing hard, semi-finished statue was eventually carried by wind and crashed on the island of Bali. This thing was eventually found by the people of Bali, so that local communities now known as the experts make a sculpture. While the sculpting tools are falling behind the mountain and the supposedly from Jepara carving this region began to flourish.

Typical characteristics of Jepara Carving Motif
Apart from legend and history, Jepara carving now been able to evolve and even is one part of the “breath of life and the pulse of the economy” of Jepara community. Jepara carving takes the form of leaves. Some say it is the leaves of plants wuni. Wuni clay is a type of grass that grow in Jepara. Plants that have small pieces that favored birds. Wuni plant form is processed into beautiful shapes.
Characteristic of the inscription, illustrated leaves arching gracefully curved. As if there is rhythm. Leaves pointed ends. Small fruits carved gather. Sometimes, added carvings of birds who want to peck the fruit.

And the other hallmark is the color. Jepara carving uses more natural color (the color of the wood). The tradition that maintains the authenticity of the color of wood is not separated from Jepara area that is not bound by the palace as the central control because it is relatively far away, so the symbolism of color in kejawen (java culture) not so apparent in Jepara carving style.

Some examples of Jepara carving style that still uses the natural forces present in door carvings on the thunder and pole marquee of Demak Mosque. Carving motifs used in general possess a naturalists such as those found in Jepara carving style.
But in today’s developments, color engraving is more widely used as decorative elements. In addition to present the impression of color that have been aged long items, such as blue green, red, yellow gold, or dark colors a bit dull.
Jepara carving style is used a lot of engravings on wooden crates. Desk chairs are also available. But, now rare engravings on the furniture anymore.

Typical Identity For Carving Cultural References

After experiencing the change to craft industry, especially when viewed in terms of socio-economic, Jepara wood carving proceeded rapidly, so get the title as the city of carving otherwise known as The World of Jepara Carving Center. Having managed to master the national market. However, due to the dynamic development of economy, national markets are not a guarantee, because outside it’s share of the market is still wide open. Therefore we need specific tips to be able to break through the international market.

To do this Jepara carving industries go to any market expansion through the exhibitions, but also made arrangements in the area. These steps taken by the effort to improve the quality of Jepara carving muebel, production management and marketing management. In addition, developed “The spirit of Jepara Incorporated”, union of employers Jepara in entering the export market, which demands proper preparation because of competition is so tight.

To improve the quality of human resources for example, carried out through secondary school education of Handicraft Industry Affairs and Technology Academy Timber and non-formal education through courses and exercises. With increase of human resources quality is expected to spur not only quality products, but at also boost the capability of the artisans and entrepreneurs in reading Jepara market opportunities with all its demands.
Improved product quality and quality control has became an obsession in entering international markets, which aims to increase the confidence of foreign industrial products from Jepara. Therefore quality control with reference to the international standard system  is crucial. This business is conducted through the guidance of producers in order to maintain product quality in order to guarantee quality of service as where required in ISO 9000.

In addition, the expansion and intensification of the market continues to be done in order to increase exports as well as broadening the international market with products that have variety potential, as well as increased transport market intelligence to gain foreign markets. Thus employers can accurately and quickly anticipate opportunities and challenges of international market. Conceptual steps are performed continuously and success has been its impact felt by society in Jepara, in the form of increased welfare. From the existing statictic data can be used as a mirror of the success of carved furniture sector in the last five years.




  • kriya ukir
  • jepara wood doors

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  1. That’s a beautiful motif on the wood carving work at the picture.

  2. dr.ali says:

    hi this is dr.ali from antique world company interested to purchase some wood carving work hope you can send pictures of your work with deferent kind work of all you have and will work to gother to achive good business if you interested to do work with me and i have long experiance with jebara work so please reply my e-mail soonest you receive.

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