Miguel Covarrubius in Bali 2


There has been a lot of interest in the art of Miguel Covarrubius and so here are some other examples of his images of Bali, its people and the dance.


Bringing offerings to the Temple


Temple Offerings


Preparation for the Dance


Movements of the Legong Dance


Legong Dancer


The Dance


The Baris Dance


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Miguel Covarrubius in Bali

It is hard to discuss the island of Bali and its people without considering the  graphic art and ethnographic research of the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubius.


Miguel’s artwork and celebrity caricatures had been featured in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines during the 1920’s and the linear nature of his drawing style was highly characteristic and highly influential. Additionally his advertising, painting and illustration work brought him international recognition including gallery shows in Europe, Mexico and the United States.



Miguel married Rosa Rolando in 1930 and they took an extended honeymoon to Bali  where they immersed themselves in the local culture, language and customs. Miguel  began creating his iconic images of Bali and its people, and his research into their ethnography.



Balinese dance particularly caught the attention of Miguel as for every occasion there are different dances, all with vibrant gamelan music and extravagant costumes.




Miguel returned to Bali in 1933 with Rosa whose photography would become part of Miguel’s book, Island of Bali  which has never been out of print. The book and particularly the marketing for months surrounding its release, contributed to the 1930s Bali craze in New York.




The Museum Pacifica at Nusa Dua in Bali held an exhibition a few years ago when they presented a number of Covarrubius’s works on Bali collected from around the world in a major exhibition. The success of his work continues as his Offering of Fruits for the Temple sold at Christies Art Auction in 2011 for over 1 million dollars.








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Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year

Wishing the happiest of holidays for you and your loved ones.

Wishing you the best for the New Year and may all  your stars be aligned during 2017.


The Banda Islands of Central Maluku in Eastern Indonesia lie in the middle of the vast Banda Sea and far from any atmospheric pollution.This photo was taken at 2am from Banda Neira looking towards the volcano of Gunung Api (Fire Mountain).

Photo Credit to Theofrydo Boo M. Tuankotta and thanks to  Mathelda Chris Titihalawa

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Around the fishmarket at Banda Neira

The fact that on our Seatrek voyages we can sail for 10 days around the Banda Sea from Flores to the Banda Islands and not see another ship tells you how isolated these islands really are.

The pristine waters make the Banda Islands a mecca for divers who come here from all over the world and a great place to see a variety of marine life.

All the precision photos and fish names are by courtesy of Martin Truefitt-Baker and the other photos are by Ian Burnet.




Peacock Rock Cod


Unicorn Fish and Rock Cod



Bluefin Trevally


Needle Fish






Selling delicious smoked fish on a stick

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The Dutch church in Banda Neira

The church in Banda Neira was established in the 1600’s to serve the residents of the Dutch colonial occupation of the remote Banda Islands . Behind the building can be seen the summit of the volcano named Gunung Api or Fire Mountain The original wooden church was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1852 in this neo-classical style. With its solid Doric columns, white plaster and sturdy brickwork, it is a good example of a provincial Dutch-era church and is now  one of the sights to see in the tiny port of Banda Neira.


Below is a distant image of the church taken in 1925 during the Dutch colonial period. The road and the open area are still there but all the large beautiful kenari (asian almond) trees have long since gone.



It was the valuable nutmeg trees which only grew on the Banda Islands that brought European traders to this remote location. The Dutch eventually expelled the Portuguese, the English, and then the Bandanese during the ‘Banda Massacre’, after which they brought in their own planters and established a complete monopoly over the nutmeg trade. It was the Dutch East India Company or the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) that built the church and their symbol can be seen on the flagstones at the entrance.


In 1999-2000 the Maluku Islands were hit with serious religious violence, which left thousands of Muslims and Christians dead. The idyllic Banda Islands were not spared from this violence and many Christians were driven off of the island by the Muslim majority.  During this time Bandaneira’s church was damaged but it has subsequently been restored.


Services are held at the church every Sunday even if the Christian community is now considerably reduced.


One of the historic highlights of the church are the elaborate carved tombstones of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) notables who died and were buried on the island. There are 34 of these tombstones in the church and they can be seen lining the aisle in the photos above and below.


These engraved tombstones record various important people, mainly Dutch, but also some British, who played a role in Banda’s history. Governors, ‘Perkeniers’ (Nutmeg Planters), members of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and English East India Company naval officers are all represented.


One of the earliest tombstones is that of the Governor of Banda, Willem Maetsuyker, dated 1675. Another example is that of Governor Cornelis Stull who died here in 1701.




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UWRF -photos from the ‘Indonesian Trilogy’ event


From the UWRF Festival Club at Bar Luna. All aboard for an island-hopping adventure through Indonesia with voyager and historian, Ian Burnet. From Java to Timor, he’ll share stories and pictures of this diverse land – from the smoking volcanoes that form the archipelago’s spine, to its emerald waters and verdant jungles.

Moderator Toni Pollard interviewed Ian Burnet about his Indonesian Trilogy – Spice Islands, East Indies and  Archipelago – A Journey Across Indonesia to the delight of an interesting and interested audience.

Courtesy of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2016 and photographer Wirasathya Damarja, we have a number of photographs from this event.








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Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – An Indonesian Trilogy


A large crowd gathered at the Festival Club at Bar Luna on Thursday evening for an island-hopping adventure across Indonesia with voyager and historian Ian Burnet. The moderator, Toni Pollard, interviewed Ian about his three books on Indonesia – Spice Islands (2011), East Indies (2013) and Archipelago (2015).




Some of the questions from Toni Pollard were:

‘What are your memories of those first days in Jakarta back in 1968? Was it way back then that you felt Indonesia had grabbed hold of your soul and would not let go?’

‘In Spice Islands you tell how for centuries, even millennia before the Europeans were involved, spices were being traded across the world. Tell us about this pre-European spice trade.’

‘Why were spices such as nutmeg and cloves so highly sought after and so valuable in Europe, five hundred years ago, that men risked their lives and countries like Portugal, Spain, Holland and England invested vast sums to mount expeditions to find them at their source?’

‘Many of the chapters of East Indies open with you standing right on the very spot where major events in the history of the great trading companies occured. Tell us about some of these moments, on these historic spots’.

‘In the book Archipelago you branch out into a much more personal approach to writing history. You undertake a journey from Malacca – like the centuries of explorers and traders before you –  and travel all the way across Indonesia’s vast emerald girdle of islands ending in East Timor, telling the reader the highlights of the history of each place as you go. What modes of transport did you use to travel the vast distances?’

‘After Bali your journey takes you into what was once Portuguese territory. Although the Portuguese domination in trade only lasted a century – the 16th century – they have had a lasting impact on the eastern islands, through the Catholicism that came with them.One notorious band of traders, the Larantuqeiros lasted unchallenged well into the Dutch VOC era. Tell us about them?’

‘Those of us who have travelled throughout the archipelago over decades have experienced some real highs and some ghastly lows in the accomodation available in various places. What were the zenith and nadir of your accomodation experiences on this journey?’

‘You end your journey in East Timor (Timor Leste) and write very movingly about its history, especially in its recent past. What does East Timor mean to you?

Thanks to Bar Luna and the UWRF for hosting this event. It was a very spontaneous and interesting session with a lot of audience involvement, especially from those with an intimate knowledge of Indonesia, and those wishing to learn more about the history and culture of this fascinating archipelago nation.


Ian Burnet and Toni Pollard at Bar Luna before the UWRF interview  (Cathy Morrison)


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