"I enjoy this work, I love it, and I'm really happy because I found the right path in life. I create things of beauty and I want to share beauty with others."
Priyo Salim was born on July 24, 1961 in one of Indonesia's renowned silver centers. In the 1960s, local craftsmen produced only silver tableware, such coffee and tea sets, flatware, etc. Salim's father was the first in town to create silver sculptures depicting the tricycle taxis, or becak, and all kinds of local transportation. Lacking the protection of copyrights, his ideas were copied by everyone in the region.
"When I was young, I wasn't interested in silver. I majored in cartography at the university, because I wanted to work in the civil service," Salim says. "But then life makes you follow your destiny, and mine was to be a jewelry designer. I actually was always interested in creating silver sculptures as my father produced them, but I wanted to do something different from what he did. When my father got old, I was ready to leave home for the civil service. He asked me if I could help him and take his place to continue this family tradition. And really, this was the most difficult time in my life. I liked silver but I had other plans for my future and I didn't know what to do. Finally I made the right choice, thanks to my father's love.
"I chose to create jewelry, because I could easily change the design when someone else copied my idea. I discovered that I have talent for this. My designs were well accepted. In a nationwide jewelry contest held by an Indonesian women's magazine I was chosen as a finalist. I also received awards in other jewelry competitions, and the Indonesian presidential office asked me to create souvenirs for their programs like the 2003 Asian Summit and the 2005 Asian African Summit, among others.
"During the 16th century, Java's Mataram kingdom started developing our silver tradition, working in repoussé to decorate their adornments. We inherited this culture, and silver arts experienced a golden period from 1920 to 1940 because of the great demand for silver tableware. But this ended after World War II because the Dutch left Indonesia. Therefore the repoussé technique has almost disappeared.
"When I took over my father's workshop, I had a cultural goal – to apply the repoussé technique in my jewelry designs in order to revive it. I hoped my effort might be successful, because this would mean that an old Javanese jewelry tradition had survived. And the survival of this traditional technique will open the door for many up-to-date applications.
"I am now very happy. I have a family and my wife also likes to help me, and I really love to create new designs. I enjoy this work, I love it, and I'm really happy because I found the right path in life. I create things of beauty and I want to share beauty with others. I'm able train others and maintain our traditions. I hope people who wear my creations will be happy, too. I want to spread happiness to every corner of the world because there is a force that wants to create unhappiness in the world. I know my effort is very small, but at least I do something good."