This statuette of an old woman with a walking stick is carved in an elegant, elongated Art Deco style. The woodcarver* has succeeded well in expressing her old age. See her thin, sunken face, arched back and typical hair buns. Most of all, I like the wise introverted look on her face. It seems as if she is tired from a long walk and rests for a moment in the sun, reflecting on her life.
In Bali, old people are much more involved in family life than in western countries. The elderly are not hidden away in retirement homes, but continue to live with their children and grandchildren. They sometimes withdraw from active life and study the scriptures.
Growing old means getting closer to the end of live, which opens the possibility of ‘moksa’: release from the cycle of rebirth and merge with the divine. In order to achieve this, one must live in accordance with the principles of cosmic harmony; achieve good karma (quality of one’s deeds) and properly perform the social and religious dharma (duties).
Wood carvings of old people represent wisdom and old age.
* The statue was most likely made by I Made Runda. At another collector I saw an almost identical statue of an old woman with the same shape and facial expression with the inscription ‘M.D. Runda’.