daengDaeng is a gentle soul with deep knowledge of, and an unfailing good eye for, excellent primitive and tribal art. Originally from Sumba Island, he has deep family roots and a house or two there. He is perhaps the most respected tribal arts trader/collector in Indonesia, with an extensive collection of textiles, folk art, and Balinese and Javanese sculpture and artifacts.

The whole family participates in the business, and I’m warmly welcomed by all when I arrive. I’m invited to weddings, and made to feel part of the family. I have long-admired Daeng and the work he does. Every time I walk through his collection, I’m spellbound and lifted to wordless wonder. He finds pieces that vibrate with beauty and good energy. He knows each piece, its age, origin, use, and history. Many of the books on the great collections and museums of primitive art in Europe, show photographs of pieces he first discovered and sold. I visited his collection probably sixty or seventy times, and invariably run into a collector whose name I know, and whom I may have the privilege to meet.

One day I was at Daeng’s collection, and timidly asked if sometime in the future, he maybe, might consider, taking me to Sumba. When Daeng immediately answered, “How about next March for a five or six day cultural/buying trip?” I was astounded. This offer was truly a chance of a lifetime. He rarely takes people with him, and then only in groups. Only Daeng, his brother, and I went. I wrote a separate article, “West Sumba,” about this trip.

daeng-davidNeedless to say, our friendship has grown over time. We were born only a couple of months apart, and both appreciate how valuable time is. We took a second, amazing trip to Sumba in January, 2009. I watched him talk, lecture, and scold his way through each day. When he got wound-up, telling his Sumbanese friends and would-be traders, how best to live their lives, I knew it was time to curl up with a book, or take a long walk. He was still at it when I returned. These discussions often became loud and animated. I could hear him across the soccer field. Daeng was always careful, later on, to let me know he was not angry with these people, just excited about what he wanted them to know. This trip is recounted in the article titled, “Sumba, 1/09.”

We know we’ll travel again to Sumba or some other tribal community in Indonesia one of these days. Daeng is, first and foremost, a generous, thoughtful man, who follows the passion of his work and his quest for timeless beauty. Many, many lives are richer because of him.


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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