Nyoman Jiwa started learning the art of woodcarving from his grandfather when he was just 10 years old. A quiet, gentle man, this very talented artisan takes his role in life very seriously; dividing his wood carving into two distinct forms; business and art. The business aspect involves making cabinets, tables and chairs for private houses and villas and carving stone pieces for landscaping projects. Nyoman earns enough to feed his family and have a reasonable living, but his real woodcarving creativity is saved for special occasions such as cremation ceremonies or Odalan (temple ceremonies).
Nyoman helps construct bades (cremation towers that carry the deceased person’s bones to the place where the cremation takes place), which assists the families of those who have died. He helps facilitate people whose time it is to move to the next world or Niskala. When making a bade, Nyoman meditates to find inspiration from the Gods, which helps his creative inspiration and directs him to make something very special for the deceased family.
Nyoman lives in Gianyer regency, the home of woodcarvers and the centre of the arts in Bali, with a long history of religious tradition where woodcarvers like Nyoman are highly revered. In the words of Louis Nizer, a famous British-born American lawyer, “A man who works with his hand is a labourer, a man who works with his hand and his brain is a craftsman, but a man who works with his hand, his brain and his heart, is an artist.” On this basis, I have no doubt that this humble gentleman is indeed an artist, with the combination of heart, hand and head, and I can only hope that his legacy will be passed down to the younger generation, as it has been in the past.