Pierre Nachbaur

“Majapahit Terracotta”, by Soedarmadji J.H. Damais

The result of 30 years of personal research in the field, this book showcases amateur art historian and independent scholar Soedarmadji Jean Henry Damais’ private collection of terracotta artifacts from the Indonesian Majapahit Era (13th to 16th century). Resembling a museum catalogue with tastefully shot pictures of the works, Damais has selected just 73 of his extensive collection that is made up of hundreds of pieces. These select works cover the whole range of antique production from this era. The main aim for the author is to help people learn about the value of terracotta works from this era, as in the past the materials focussed on have been artefacts made from gold, bronze and stone. He also explains the diverse functions of the artefacts which range from ‘architectural elements to garden furniture and household utensils.

Introduced by way of a historical background to the Majapahit archaeological sites from the Trowulan area of East Java, the brief background information highlights several facts, including the historical lack of value placed on terracotta artefacts in Indonesia, issues with forgery and the impact of the black market on the authenticity of artefacts from this era, as well as the need to increase awareness about the importance of this valuable art-form. Indeed the author stresses that fact that this book is merely “an intimate, personal account…” and is not intended to “match the knowledge of experts in this particular field”.

Whilst some of Damais’ collection cannot be verified as Majapahit Era, he is careful to detail processes that may be carried out to confirm authenticity, including techniques that he has learnt from years of experiences working with this material. Indeed it is his aim that this book functions as a guide for collectors to identify authentic pieces from this era, as well as highlight the huge variety in this rare art-form that is reflected is his valuable and beautifully presented collection.

Author: Soedarmadji J.H. Damais
General Editor: Helly Minarti
Editor: Sherry Kasman Entus
Photographer: Eky Tandyo
Compact format, hardcover, colour, 148 pages
ISBN: 978-979-8926-29-7
Price: USD 19.95

Distributed worldwide by Tuttle Publishing (North America, Latin America and Japan), Berkeley Book (Asia Pacific), Java Books (Indonesia).