This 77cm high statue of an elongated half-naked female is carved in a standard pose with one arm down along the body and the other arm raised and bent towards the back. Her right hand rests on her slightly bent leg and the left hand on the back of her shoulder (see the picture in the middle). The two outstretched fingers on both hands, as in a blessing gesture, belong also to this standard pose, which is probably inspired by Balinese dance or Hindu-religion. The same goes for the face, which is always turned aside.
Statues such as these were intended for the many tourists who visited Bali after WWII. Thousands were made from the 1950s to the late 1980s in the workshops in the village of Mas, where many woodcarvers lived. The first thing a young woodcarver learned in those days was to make these types of sculptures. An apprentice first learned to carve the basic shape of the statue, after which older students took care of the more difficult parts. The fine and delicate parts such as the face and the breasts were finally done by an experienced woodcarver. Only when the student, after much practice, mastered all parts of the craftsmanship, he was allowed to carve the whole sculpture.
Because so many of these statues were made by woodcarvers with more and less experience, the quality of the pieces differs a lot. The trick is to find a high quality sculpture with a nice facial expression, like this one. The shape of the arms also says something about the quality; the more the arms are seperated from the body, the higher the quality mostly is. See, for example, the slight space between the right elbow and hip. Many statues in the standard pose miss this spaciousness, making it seem as if the arm is “glued” to the body.
Also pay attention to other details, such as the hands and feet, which should look natural. In my sculpture, the right foot is miscreated. The toes are barely sticking out from under the sarong; together they look like clubfoot. The left foot is hidden under the sarong. The hands have long fingers as usual, but are less precisely and less naturally shaped than for instance the hands of the statue of Lakshmi from my earlier post.
1960s or 70s
Based on the relatively high quality of the carving and an old price tag under the base, I think it’s an early one, made between circa 1965 and 1975. The sculpture is not signed by the woodcarver on the base. An inscription on the bottom reads only ‘Bali’. This also indicates that the statue was made for the tourist market, but at the same time shows that commercial woodcarvers were also good craftsmen.