Wooden bust of a young woman wearing a traditional Balinese headband (lelunakan), period: 1930-1950, height and width: 25 x 18 cm.
These statues were already popular with the first tourists visiting Bali in the 1920s and 1930s. The busts were usually sold in pairs (a boy and a girl). You regularly come across them on antique and flea markets or websites with second-hand items, where you can still buy them for a reasonable price. I paid only 35 euros for this one.
Busts like this may look simpler than, say, a beautiful Janger bust, but the carving of the face is just as refined and done by the same woodcarvers. So they are great statues for people who would like to have a high quality Balinese wood carving but don’t want to spend too much money.
The trick is to find a nice early specimen like this one. Especially wood carvings from before and just after the war (until the mid-1950s) often have a beautiful serene facial expression. Later busts are usually somewhat larger and more decorated, but lack that sophisticated natural look.
Two woodcarvers making busts in the 1930s. Photo: Southeast Asian & Caribbean Images (KITLV)
Old picture of a young woman wearing a lelunakan