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Your Easy, Three-Step Guide to Buying Balinese Wood Carvings

By Sarah Purkrabek

Aug 1, 2016

From the September/October 2016 issue

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Photo by Jeffery Cross

Where to go, what to look for, and how much to expect to pay.

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It's nearly impossible to leave Bali without one of the island's locally made wood carvings. How much you spend depends on how much extra baggage you’re willing to schlep. Here, a cheat sheet to the island’s best wood carvings.

To buy a wall panel:

Head to: The town of Kemenuh, one of the island’s longtime wood-working hubs, is full of galleries. Seek out the shops around Butterfly Park, which specialize in beautiful carved wall hangings.

Ask for: Native suar, a dark, caramel-brown wood with a pronounced grain that makes it resistant to cracking

Expect to pay: Around $100 for a 12-inch circular wall piece

To buy a statue:

Head to: The village of Mas, where wood carvers remix traditions: You’ll see Buddhas with modern expressions and animals in yoga poses. Many studios are in private homes, but the statues are sold at local shops.

Ask for: Hibiscus wood: It has an ivory-like sheen and is malleable enough to allow for more elaborate designs.

Expect to pay: From $200 to $1,000 depending on the size of your statue.

To buy a door:

Head to: The Southern village of Sukawati, where the Galih Ukir workshop employs 30 full-time craftsmen who use chisels to create their detailed patterns. See them, and you'll understand why there are no doors as spectacular as those from Bali.

Ask for: Teak. It’s durable and water-resistant enough to be used outside.

Expect to pay: At least five grand for something intricate

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