Majapahit Terracotta


Majapahit Terracotta

Majapahit Terracotta is the terracotta art and craft dated from Majapahit era circa 13th to 15th century. Significant terracotta earthenwares artifacts from this period were discovered in Trowulan, East Java.

Over the years many terracotta sculptures and artifacts have been discovered as a result of agricultural activities, building roads etc. Some of these finds were brought together in the museum at Trowulan before World War II, but in the subsequent years much of this collection has been lost. Post WW II many of the pieces has been unearthed as the result of digging for gold. After the crops have been harvested the farmers lease their land to diggers who dig pits panning the alluvial soil for gold. The terracottas are an incidental find, often bearing the mark of the digging implement.[1]

Today, Trowulan Museum and National Museum of Indonesia host the large collections of Majapahit terracotta art.

Contents

Method

The word terracotta derives from the Latin word meaning burnt earth. Nowadays the word refers to all unglazed low-fired red earthenware clay objects. Much of the archeological studies of the area have focused on the reconstructions of the ruins.[2] So far, in East Java no kilns have been found and most of the objects are relatively low fired, suggesting that the craftsmen worked by the earthenware method. They probably worked in a way similar to that being used today in Kasongan, near Yogyakarta and the one in Bali, where the figurines are sun dried. Then rice husks and straws is heaped over them and set on fire, to attain a harder object the firing is repeated.

Artifacts

Containers

Many containers in various sizes and shapes were discovered in Trowulan. The containers probably used for various purposes, from water container to grain container. From large jar to box shaped water container. The typical kendi, a bulbous and tall neck water vessel with breast-like spout is originated from Majapahit period.

Heads

Many small heads are found in the surrounding environs. These range in size from 3 cm up to10cm. Many of these heads show Javanese features with hair style and ear ornementation. For the most part these heads are solid, but occasionally thin walled examples are found. It is postulated that the more heavily ornamented faces represent ladies belonging to the upper classes.[3]

Figurines

Commonly the figurines are small, measuring and constructed by the coil and pinch methods with carved or incised decorations, a forming method that is sculptural.[4] Other figurines are made by molding. Their variety of expression is infinite with naturalistic postures and expressions.

Animals

One of the famous Majapahit terracotta animal figure is Majapahit Piggy Bank, discovered in Trowulan. Other animal figures also discovered, such as Nandi bull and elephant.

Reliefs

Carved bricks have been found in the area. These show scenes from daily life and depictions of religious or literary stories. The technique of construction are similar to the carved stone reliefs seen in the temples of central Java such as Borobudur. For the most part these bricks are single and in poor repair, but occasional sequences have been found. Frequently the figures in the panels are depicted in the East Java style, in which the body is full frontal, the face in the three quarter and the legs are in profile.[5]

Other purposes

The people of Majapahit exploits terracotta earthenware method on producing various objects for their daily needs. Among wide ranges objects are; roof and floor tiles to terracotta water pipes. Several terracotta architectural miniature models and architecture ornaments also discovered.

References

  1. ^ H. R. A. Muller, Javanese Terracottas, Terra Incognito. 1978 Uitgeversmaatschappij De Tijdstroom B.V., Lochem. ISBN 90 6087 593 1 p.7
  2. ^ Hilda Soemantri, Majapahit Terracotta Art, 1997 Ceramic Society of Indonesia. ISBN 979 95060 1 8 p 17
  3. ^ H. R. A. Muller, Javanese Terracottas, Terra Incognito. 1978 Uitgeversmaatschappij De Tijdstroom B.V., Lochem. ISBN 90 6087 593 1p 33
  4. ^ Hilda Soemantri, Majapahit Terracotta Art, 1997 Ceramic Society of Indonesia, p.34
  5. ^ Hilda Soemantri, Majapahit Terracotta Art, 1997 Ceramic Society of Indonesia, p. 60

Further reading

  • H. R. A. Muller, Javanese Terracottas, Terra Incognito. 1978 Uitgeversmaatschappij De Tijdstroom B.V., Lochem. ISBN 90 6087 593 1
  • Pigeaud. Th.G. Java in the 14th Century. Martinus Nijhoff. The Hague 1960
  • Pigeaud. Th.G. Literature of Java. Martinus Nijhoff. The Hague. 1970
  • Hilda Soemantri, Majapahit Terracotta Art, 1997 Ceramic Society of Indonesia. ISBN 979 95060 1 8

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