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An important commemorating Indonesian carved Sawo wood box containing a luxurious photo album


Java, Japara, circa 1917

W. 58.5 x D. 41.5 x H. 17 cm

Japara, on the north-coast of Java, is famous for its woodcarving, since at least the 15th century. The lid of the box is decorated with the wajang of Ardjoena, one of the five Pandawa brothers from the Mahabharata, on both sides of the tree of life Kekajon. The inside of the lid has a cut buffalo hide decoration of Garuda, the mythical mount of Vishnu, surrounded by four Naga heads with wide-open jaws. The inside of the box is covered with Batik, and the box contains an album, the cover made of snake-skin with an engraved metal plaque Souvenir Kadaster 1912-1917 and land- surveying equipment. The two title pages of the album read: “Aan den Hoogedelgestrengen Heer L.C.F. Polderman, Chef van den Kadastralen Dienst in Nederlandsch Indie, wordt dit Album bij zijn aftreden eerbiedig aangeboden door het Europeesch en Inlandsch personeel bij dien tak van dienst.” Inside the album twenty-one photos regarding the land registry in Indonesia in the early 20th century.

Polderman (1863-1938) already in 1881 joined the land registry in the Netherlands where he made a good career and was appointed head of the service in Indonesia in 1912 till his pension in 1917.
A similar Japara-carved box with a photo album inside, containing 48 portraits of regents of Java and Madura, was presented as a gift by the regent of Garut, R.A.A. Wiratanudatar to Queen Wilhelmina on her 24th birthday in 1904 (See: Rita Wassing-Visser, Koninklijke Geschenken uit Indonesië, Historische banden met het Huis Oranje-Nassau (1600-1938), Waanders Zwolle, 1995, pp. 120-123).

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