This stylized figurine was created by the well-known Balinese woodcarver I Made Runda (1921-1991). Runda was born in Sumampan and learned woodcarving from Nang Gedar. He lived and worked in Kaliungu, Denpasar from 1947. In 1961 he moved his workshop to Sakah. Two of his sons were also woodcarvers.
Runda was one of the first woodcarvers to sign his sculptures. His name often pops up at auctions of Indonesian art. He sold a lot of statues and was known for his stylized and elongated sculptures of beautiful women and goddesses. Despite the modern sleek design, his carvings often have a deeper mythological meaning. For example, the carving above might look like a beautiful half-naked Balinese lady; in reality it’s an statue of the goddess Dewi Winata hiding the egg of Garuda under her sarong (see the picture in the middle).
According to the Hindu legend Winata got two bird eggs from her husband the high priest Kasyapa because she was unable to have children. Longing for a child, she broke the first egg before it was hatched, causing her first son Aruna to be born premature and deformed. He cursed his mother who carefully kept the egg of his brother Garuda, a mythical bird that lifted the curse of Aruna and later would become the mount of the god Vishnu.
Runda sums up this story in Winata’s loving gaze at the egg at her feet. The goddess is not dressed with her usual attributes, such as an ornate headdress. By omitting these recognizable details, Runda emphasizes the human theme behind the mythological story: a woman’s desire for children.
Read more about I Made Runda in my post on Lakshmi.