This beautifully decorated calendar was published in 1931 by the Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (KPM). The KPM was a Dutch shipping company for passenger and cargo shipping between the islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The ships also carried the mail. Because there were often delays, people in the Dutch East Indies used to joke that ‘KPM’ stood for ‘Komt Pas Morgen’. Loosely translated: won’t come until tomorrow. Another pun was ‘Kipas Pergi Mana’, where’s my cabin fan?
The calendar design was made by graphic designer Leo Léon, who designed five calendars for the KPM (1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931), all with a painting of the Dutch East Indies. The edges of the calendar shield are decorated with Balinese flowers and a kāla (Balinese demon head) is depicted in the lower corners. The cheerful contrasting colors in combination with a lot of gold printing are characteristic of the style of the Amsterdam School.
The image in the middle was made after a painting of a legong dance performance by the Dutch amateur artist Steven Andries Schouten (1875-1932), who lived in Medan from 1915 to 1924. Schouten was deputy secretary of the rubber planters’ organization on the east coast of Sumatra and made etchings and paintings in his spare time.