Monday, May 31, 2010


The intricate structure of the Borobudur stupa, located in Java, Indonesia, is an astounding feat of architectural design.

The 9th century Buddha shrine is decorated with 504 Buddha statues, and the immense shrine's design is patterned after "a solar model of the universe." Indonesia is also home to featured jewelry designer Made Sriasih.

The lyricism of Sriasih's exquisite jewelry speaks to the extraordinary artistic talent of Indonesian silversmiths.

In a recent post, I stated in so many words that jewelers from India were unmatched in their level of artistry and intricacy. Although I do not dispute their exemplary artisanship, I feel now that I was rather shortsighted.

In the same vein, Indonesian silversmiths are masters of buoyant and seemingly weightless intricate form. Their aesthetic, for the most part, is complex without being highly elaborate.

The minutiae are always differentiated and uniquely beautiful. For example, the small detail of layering a repetition of web-like circles--like Sriasih's Moon Legend Earrings--so that a soft, drape pattern develops or carving out metal to form an ethereal design.

Literally born into a village renowned "as the island's center of silver production," Sriasih's father, a senior silversmith, passed on the tradition of metalwork to his daughter.

"I was well trained in the jewelry arts," she says. "I made jewelry from the time I was twelve years old until I got married," she recalls.

"In that time, I learned how to select quality material and create pieces with precision, employing the village's traditional motifs and designs." After marrying, Sriasih went on to study anthropology, but the love of sculpting and shaping metal remained steadfast.

"With my husband's support, I started my own silver workshop. It has not always been easy but whenever I start to feel bad I think about something one of my client's said, "Success won't fall down from the sky and if you want it you must try hard to reach it."

Sriasih currently employs ten artisans to assist with jewelry making. Implementing gemstones like amethyst as accents, her items span the range of streamlined renderings like the Horizons Bracelet, inspired by the spruce-fir tree, to the understated lavishness of the 18-karat gold and sterling silver composite, Balinese Princess Earrings. The tiny granules featured on this piece are placed by hand.

In addition to the granulation, Sriasih also incorporates the gossamer details of filigree in her varied works.

There are traditional motifs such as the sandat and picuk flowers and an item inspired by the heroic exploits of master archer Arjuna, the hero of the tales of the Mahabharata.  It is jewelry cast with the glow of culture, history, painstaking dedication, and a love for artistry.

Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Filigree Adoration Earrings with Amethyst Stones
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver Talisman Pendant
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