Some of my more regular readers may remember that I spent much of my childhood, well my younger childhood, living on an island called Java in Indonesia. We used to live in Bandung but what I want to write about is Yoga silver which was worked in the town of Yogyakarta to the east of Bandung.
Silver was not really worked until the early twentieth century. In fact, the 1930’s. The art of silverwork or silversmiths had been dying out since it was the aristocracy who bought and used the local silverware. However, as they lost their power to the colonising nations they lost their wealth to pay for commissions and luxury goods. So, the native craftsmen lost their ready market and regular income. Silversmiths became a dying breed since youngsters showed no interest in continuing the craft.
In 1930, the wife of the Governor of Yogyakarta in central Java in the Dutch East Indies took an interest in the revival of the art of the silversmith industry. Her plan was similar to the one a decade earlier in Cambodia, where local artisans were encouraged to learn their historical aesthetics and to use the inspiration to create silver objects to cater for the European whims. Although this remarkable lady departed Java when her husband came to the end of his posting, the enthusiasm gained momentum. Local silversmiths now created the most beautiful artifacts for the local Dutch population as well as the American tourists.
After Indonesia gained its independence in 1949, the Yogya silver trade flourished and continued well into the 1960’s. Since virtually all the silverware was purchased by foreigners, few examples remain in Indonesia.
Certainly, my parents bought a lot of the silverware which over the years was given away to other family members or sold. Today, the ornate pieces would need constant cleaning and polishing which really would take up too much time and be so impractial since they were not dishwasher safe!
The silverware was part of my earlier ordinary day to day life. So much so that it was not until we moved to Europe that I realised one did not use ornate silverware for every day tasks!
A typical letter opener.
Several of these are gradually finding their way onto Ebay. In fact, I have one listed there at the moment!
The casing can be slid off the actual lighter.
Fruit used to be displayed in a dish similar to this!
So I think you get the idea of what life could be like.
Born with a silver spoon in the mouth, well not exactly but then it was a totally different world, altogether!