Home > Blog > Explore Jogja > Jepara: Java’s legendary woodcarving and furniture center

Jepara: Java’s legendary woodcarving and furniture center

Jepara Wood Carving
Jepara Wood Carving

Jepara: Java’s legendary woodcarving and furniture center – Located on the northern shore of the island of Java , approximately 100 km from Semarang, capital of the Province of Central Java, the town of Jepara is not only the port of departure to the enchanting Karimunjawa Islands, but it is in fact better known for its legendary woodcarving and furniture crafts.

Today Jepara remains one of Indonesia’s major centers for woodcarving and furniture, whose fame has spread to international markets. Jepara produces fine teak funiture, some elaborately decorated with fine carvings of flowers and tendrils. Impressively carved are house doors, cabinet doors, but also chests and boxes. Unlike in Bali where woodcarvers create human forms and animal statues, in Jepara, following the teaching of Islam, carvings portray only flowers, leaves and trees in intricate designs. Jepara today is also able to produce fine replicas of antique furniture, not only Indonesian but also antique European designs.

Jepara Wood Carving
Jepara Wood Carving

Jepara legendary woodcarving and furniture center

Wood carving centers in Jepara are located in almost all of the sub districts in the Jepara regency. Dozens of showrooms, that are also able to apply finishing touches to wood carvings, are available in the city center, especially along Jalan Tahunan.

Since the 8th century in the golden age of Java’s Hindu kingdoms, Jepara has been known as one of the most important ports on Java which connected Javanese kingdoms with China and India. It has a rich past and references to Jepara are found in Chinese, Portuguese, English and Dutch history books. According to Chinese literature “A New History of Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD)”, in the year 674 AD, a Chinese Seafarer named I Tsing visited a kingdom called Holing or Kalingga which is believed to be located east of Jepara. While in the book “Suma Oriental”, the famed Portuguese adventurer mentioned that Jepara was already known in the 15th Century (1470 AD) as a trading port under the authority of the Demak Sultanate.

It is suggested that the name Jepara originated from “Ujung Para” taken from a folklore relating the story when a wanderer came to the area he saw a fishermen dividing his catch. (In Javanese dividing is translated as Para or Poro), while “ujung” refers to the end (northern coast) of Java Island. The pronunciation later altered to Jungpara, Jumpara, and finally to Jepara.

Jepara’s carving
Jepara’s carving

Jepara’s carving existed since the fall of the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java

Based on historical stories, Jepara’s carving existed since the fall of the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java. The collapse of the Majapahit Kingdom in the first half of 15th century caused Hindu scholars and artisans to spread to various parts of the archipelago. Many artisans and carpenters subsequently came to reside in Jepara and continued to develop their woodcarving skills while adjusting their style to the localities. The arrival of Chinese immigrants further enhanced the development of the art of woodcarving in Jepara.

In the reign of Queen Kalinyamat (1549 – 1579 AD), Jepara rapidly grew not only as the main commercial port of Java but also as its naval base. She also contributed to the development of woodcarving in Jepara. During her reign, the queen had a military commander named “Sungging Badarduwung” who originated from the Campa Kingdom (present day Cambodia). The commander was also a skilled craftsman who voluntarily taught the locals his style of woodcarving.

Aside from history, the woodcarving art of Jepara also comes with a legend. It is said that long ago in a kingdom lived a famous artisan called Ki Sungging Adi. His fame reached the king who subsequently asked him to carve an image of the empress. Apparently, the artist made such an excellent job in creating a statue of the empress. But instead of making the king happy, it actually angered him, since this meant that Ki Sungging was fully aware of the details of the empress’s body shape and face. The King then banished the artist throwing away all of the artist’s tools. Legend has it that all the tools fell in the area what is now known as Jepara.

  •   Bersama Pak Tugi!! Best boleh berkomunikasi dengan baik. Sedia melayani kehendak perut kami. Menepati masa dan banyak memberi pesanan2 khas..sangat baik dan peramah.

    thumb Meander815943

      Overall im very satisfied with java heritage tour service for a memorable tour experience at jogja. Special thanks to our tour guide Pak Budi and also to pak agus for a prompt response when needed. Keep up the good work and ill definately recommend this...More

    thumb nazrikom

      - one word to describe our whole jogja trip is "SUPERB" - excellent service by Pak Agus and our driver@tourist guide, adi saputra - comfortable homestay - a great package with affordable price - prayer time given (good for muslim traveller, the mosque/musolla is everywhere)...More

    thumb nadnusisters

      Amazing service,clean vehicle,friendly and knowlegable driver....highly reccomended
    Call pak agus +62 81915534286

    thumb Evan A
  •   It was easy to get hold of Agus, the owner and tour operator, he was recommended to us by a friend of ours, this is our second trip with his tour guides. Giarto, our tour guide arrived on time on all three days. He went...More

    thumb RuchiraB7

      kunjungan saya ke yogjakarta bersama driver mas budi adalah yang terbaik dan best sekali.. maybe next time boleh berkunjung lg bersama dgn java heritage tour..

    thumb AdamZ1688

      Percutian yg menyeronokkan. Tempat² yang menarik. Pemandu yg baik, peramah, penyabar. Tq mas Adi dan pak Agus. Semoga ketemu lg di lain waktu.

    thumb n0rhaslindaj

      Okay, where do I begin? On a recent trip to Jogja with friends who were visiting from Japan, we were met at the airport by our driver, Supri. Supri was with us for the next four days, and we could not have survived, let alone...More

    thumb Ross L
  •   For four days, I traveled around with Mas Agus from Java Heritage Tours. He took me to see the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, explore vulcanic craters, see the Dieng plateau, and visit various sights in the city of Yogyakarta. I even got a cooking class at his place (which was delicious).

    I was traveling through Indonesia by myself, but Agus made me feel very safe and took great care of me. He was super friendly and very knowledgeable. I had an absolutely fantastic time, and I can recommend Java Heritage Tours to anyone! More

    thumb Diede M

      Percutian selama 4 hari di Jogja sangat bermakna untuk kami. Dengan bantuan tourguide, Supri dari Java Heritage kami dibawa ke lokasi2 yang menarik serta rumah-rumah makan yang enak-enak. Dengan harga perkhidmatan yang berpatutan yang ditawarkan oleh Java Heritage, kami berjaya menamatkan misi percutian kami. Sepanjang...Selengkapnya

    thumb Camper671727

      I got Pak Agus' number after reading his team's good review online. We were a party of 6; 5 adults and my 5-year old son travelling to Jogja for 6 days & 5 nights leisure trip. We were greeted by Mas Adi; albeit slighy misscomm...More

    thumb Nor Iliani N

      Best driver to take you around for your sightseeing in Jogja!Also gives the best advice if you’re unsure of what to do first.Thank you for accompanying me on my adventure!

    thumb Minswan
  •   Very friendly Pak Agus. Guide and provide us transport thro out our visits. We stayed for two nights at his homestay. Value for money. Thank you so much Pak Agus Rohmad. Insya Allah see you next time. Adios...

    thumb aamzrr

      We booked a 4 day tour including a dash in n out to Solo. Java Tour esp Mas Ijun was awesome n patiently accommodated to our tour plans. He also recommended Good local food! Your Jogja will be stress free with them on board.

    thumb Pixgal

      Our supir Mas Adi from Pak Agus team was superb! He is friendly,and gives us ample time because we bring small children. He also took picture for us and bring us to delicous local food restaurant. Overall the tour is excellent!

    thumb atiqaharshad89

      Nama driver: Pak Tugi Kami di Jogja selama 4 hari dan Pak Tugi layan kami dengan sungguh baik! Kemana-mana kami hendak pergi, walaupun jauh, dia hantar kami dgn senyuman. Dia membawa kami ke warung makan local yg sedap dan tidak ada ramai tourist. Layanan Pak...Selengkapnya

    thumb lilliesanddaisies

You may also like...