Ewa Oceanic Art Gallery in Ubud

Papua New Guinean Antiques and Tribal Arts in Ubud

Ewa Oceanic Art Gallery is a great stopover on your leisurely strolls through the interconnecting side streets of Ubud central. The gallery might be small, but it is home to rare and authentic artefacts you’ll hardly find anywhere else in Bali. The makeshift art space is actually a residential front room, with walls and corners showcasing striking tribal art items and mysterious ritualistic handicrafts collected from various villages along the Sepik, the longest river to run through the northern highland region of Papua New Guinea.

Upon entering the room, we are greeted by Ewa Oceanic Art Gallery owner Bianca Todorov, who passionately shows us mystic masks, headdresses and curious adornments made out of wood and shells, arranged on shelves, glass cabinets and purpose-built stands. It turns out that all of the items here are, in fact, family collections. Bianca, together with her mother and father, an adventurer turned gold-digger (dredger, to be precise), has lived in the particular region of Papua New Guinea over the past three decades. She frequently travels between Bali and Sepik, where her father resides among the tribes to this day.

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Those into art, history and a little bit of anthropology will easily find a ‘brief chat’ with Bianca eventually turn into an intriguing afternoon full of adventurous life stories. Throughout their time there, they witnessed the different rites of passage from up close, which Bianca is able to fluently recall from each of the ritual items on display. Each item at Ewa Oceanic Art Gallery has a story to tell, from mini wooden totems and spirit dance masks that are treated as either male or female, some worn during funerary rites, to peculiar amulets that ward off evil.

In addition to truly exotic tribal objects, there’s Ewa's collection of gold and silver jewellery which are inspired by the traditional forms. There are silver pendants and earrings with motifs depicting native species of the region such as the bird of paradise, together with hollow-carved seashells. There’s even a pair of rings crafted out of old silver shillings dating back to the ‘30s, in the time of the Australian-administered Territory of New Guinea. And, of course, there are gold selections that fall into more contemporary designs. Some bear price tags: US$69 for a pair of silver earrings, for example. The more authentic and rarer items in the collection mostly don’t, but are available for avid collectors.

Jalan Dewi Sita is one of the ‘walking streets’ within the Ubud town hub, and parking can be a bit of a challenge. The most viable option, if you’re coming to Ubud by car, is to grab an available spot west of the soccer field then take the short stroll to the gallery. It’s no issue if you’re staying at one of the great hotels in the immediate vicinity, such as the Royal Kamuela or the Komaneka at Rasa Sayang.

Ewa Oceanic Art Gallery

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