10. The Construction of Time III: The Jaman Moderen.

The jaman moderen is the contemporary age, an age of Christian belief, of the Unity in Diversity of the Indonesian peoples, and of development. It should, having all of these benefits, be a constant and glorious march towards ever greater wealth, bodily wellbeing, material comfort and personal happiness. The jaman moderen is the time of progress and its home is the West, seen both as the site of great material wellbeing as reflected by the mass-media and as the home of Christianity. [Read More]

11. Conclusion.

The sculpture of Tanimbar exhibits a remarkable complexity and variety of forms, which can be seen as a reflection of a corresponding diversity of dynamic cultural forces at play in the life of the Tanimbarese. The challenge for the Tanimbarese – as they perceive it – is to renegotiate the relationship between those forces they see as external to Tanimbar and moderen, and those which they see as internal and tradisional, and hence bring about the transformation of tradition such that it no longer holds up aspirations toward material and spiritual development. [Read More]

12. Appendix: Selling History – New Patterns in Tanimbarese Art

It may seem somewhat perverse to relegate two thirds of the sculptors within Tanimbar to an appendix whilst the main text of this study concentrates on the final third. However there are a number of reasons why this seems to me to be not only acceptable, but also necessary. The work of the sculptors of the village of Tumbur, which is the subject of this appendix, has been discussed in great detail by Annamiek Lenssen in her thesis “Main Tangan” It is not my intention to repeat her work here. [Read More]

2. Implementation

The fieldwork for this study was carried out on the islands of Yamdena and of Sera. There was insufficient time to travel to the islands of Larat and Fordata in the north, and contacts from these areas informed me (either rightly or wrongly) that there were no active sculptors in these areas. There are reportedly some monumental cement sculptures in Larat, but sources in Yamdena claimed that they were in a state of disrepair, and so this alone did not seem to justify a trip to the northernmost islands. [Read More]

3. The History of Tanimbarese Art

To attempt to write the history of Tanimbarese art may not be an impossible task, however it difficult to see how it could be successfully accomplished. One of the main problems is the scarcity of material, both written documentation and actual artefacts. There are a number reasons for this scarcity. As noted above, in the colonial period contact with the Dutch was sparse, and thus the historical documentation available for those researching the history of the central Moluccas is simply not available for Tanimbar and the surrounding islands. [Read More]

4. Images and Power

It is clear that in the past the image was seen as the repository, the agency or the mediator of power: the tavu was the site where contact with the ancestors of the house would be made; the kora ulu was the representation of the dangerous power of the crew of warriors, as the boat roared its passage through the waves, and the walut was the residence of the power of the ancestors. [Read More]

5. The Sculptor in Society

Life in contemporary Tanimbar is one of a complex of interacting forces, a fact that is keenly felt by the Tanimbarese. In the early 1980s, when Susan McKinnon carried out her fieldwork in the islands, she was, she says, surprised by the extent to which both the church and the Indonesian state had penetrated all aspects of life in Tanimbar [1992. p.lO] Since the time of McKinnon’s research these twin influences have both strengthened, and it seems from my observations that what McKinnon calls the “indigenous Tanimbarese order” has further lost some of its force. [Read More]

6. Past, Present, Future: Time, Art and History in Tanimbar

Through the study of a wide cross-section of Tanimbarese carving, it has become appan that underlying the diversity of forms there is a binding and ordering set of ideas and principles. Talk of sculpture in Tanimbar inevitably tends towards conversation about history. It is Tanimbarese ideas of history that the contradictory and conflicting natures of different forms sculpture are collapsed into a unity that contains them, however temporarily, tenuously – and possibly even dangerously. [Read More]

7. Tradition and Modernity: the unsatisfactory present

Although the Tanimbarese live in the jaman moderen, that is not to say that they see themselves as living entirely within a condition of modernity, as expressed by the idea of the jaman moderen set out in the previous section. Life within Tanimbar is not seen as a march towards ever greater perfection materially and spiritually: the Tanimbarese are pragmatists to some extent in this matter. The jaman moderen should be a time of unhindered progress and development, a glorious progression from darkness to light; but this is patently not the case, and the Tanimbarese themselves are aware of the fact that life in Tanimbar in the present time is far from satisfactory: there is still disease, suffering, immorality, hardship and drought. [Read More]

8. The Construction of Time I: The Jaman Purba.

The following three sections will be a consideration of the ways in which Tanimbarese artists use these concepts of tradition, history and modernity, in an attempt to transcend the problem of the contradiction between the tradisional and the moderen in their lives, whilst seeking an identity for themselves as Tanimbarese. The study will concentrate on the way in which the tradisional is modified and stripped of its power such that it is no longer a a force hindering progress (kemajuan) but rather it is tamed and brought under control so that it too may play a part in overcoming the unsatisfactoriness of the present. [Read More]