Lenju, the goldsmith who loves to fish and build kites
At the age of ten, he made his first silver ring. Lenju did not sell it. He placed it on one of his fingers for his classmates to see. The idea worked out well: they started to order rings. Lenju began to work as a "toucan" at the same workbench as his brothers, in the family compound where he still lives today. He used his earnings to buy food at school.
For two years he learned from his brothers who taught him how to make bracelets, necklaces and rings. Celuk, their town, is famous for the art of working with silver. Lenju does not know who taught his brothers, but in Bali they say that the techniques were refined for centuries. They manifest in silver and gold drawings, applied to the wooden statues and crafts that are offered to deities such as Sanghyang Widi Wasa, Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, in the complex, elaborate and daily rituals of Balinese Hinduism.
Lenju’s father was a farmer and worked at the rice terraces of Bali. It was from him that Lenju learned two things he loves: The secrets of fishing in the island's rivers and a refined kite-making technique which he has already taught to the two children he has with his wife Ni Wayan Budiastinia, a 15-year-old teenager and a 14-year-old daughter.
When I Ketut Dedi Sagita – Lenju is his nickname – finished high school, he decided to continue as a toucan and never did anything else. He worked freelance from home and also for art workshops in Celuk and Ubud, but the problem he faced was always uncertainty.
The 2002 terrorist attack in Kuta, the most serious in Bali's history, led to a collapse in tourism and the demand for jewellery plummeted.
For six years, Lenju has worked as a goldsmith in the eThnoPur workshop in Celuk. He is now 49 years old, and the most experienced silversmith. He likes to work in a team and to focus on making jewellery only, he was tired of haggling to sell when he was a freelancer. What he values most is having a steady income. It allows him to pay off the loan he was granted by the local cooperative and to realize one of his great dreams: to build his own house with a beautiful carved wooden door, next to the family temple.
He is going to move out when his children grow up and leave them the house where they are living together today.