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Art, Craft and Culture

Art, Craft & Culture
Clothing & Textiles
Traditional Dance Forms
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Indonesia is rich in art and culture, which are intertwined with religion and age-old traditions from the time of early migrants with Western thoughts brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonists. The basic principles which guide life include the concepts of mutual assistance or "gotong royong" and consultations or "musyawarah" to arrive at a consensus or "mufakat."  Derived from rural life, this system is still very much in use in community life throughout the country. Though the legal system is based on the old Dutch penal code, social life as well as the rites of passage are founded on customary or "adat" law which differs from area to area.

Adat" law has a binding impact on Indonesian life and it may be concluded that this law has been instrumental in maintaining equal rights for women in the community. Religious influences on the community are variously evident from island to island. Unlike some countries art forms in Indonesia are not only based on folklore, as many were developed in the courts of former kingdoms such as in Bali, where they are part of religious ceremonies. The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali are derived from Hindu mythology and often feature fragments from the Ramayana and Mahabharata Hindu epics. Highly stylized in movement and costume, dances and the "wayang" drama are accompanied by a full "gamelan" orchestra comprising xylophones, drums, gongs, and in some cases string instruments and flutes. Bamboo xylophones are used in North Sulawesi and the bamboo "angklung" instruments of West Java are well-known for their unique tinkling notes which can be adapted to any melody. The Bataks of North Sumatera form popular singing groups to entertain visitors in many international hotels. There are also various forms of puppet shows. The "wayang kulit" of Java is performed with leather puppets held by the puppeteer, who narrates the story of one of the famous episodes of the Hindu epics, the Mahabarata or the Ramayana. It is performed against a white screen while a lantern in the background casts the shadows of the characters on the screen, visible from the other side where the spectators are seated. The "Wayang Golek" (wooden puppets) of West Java is based on the same concept. 

Indonesian crafts as one of the art products has various styles, patterns and designs, inherited from ancestors with various cultural backgrounds. Traditional or spiritual values from many tribes are reflected in the colors, forms and typical crafts from certain regions which display various meanings related to the ethnic or particular region of origin. 

Woven cloth is found all over the country, with different motifs, patterns and colors according to their respective region. The noted songket and ikat weaving are made in Sumbawa, Flores, Kalimantan, South Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bali and East Timor.

The batik process of waxing and dyeing originated in Java centuries ago and classic designs have been modified with modern trends in both pattern and technology. There are several centers of Batik in Java, the major ones being Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Pekalongan and Cirebon. Batik is also being produced in some other areas as in Bali where local designs are incorporated. Other provinces produce hand-woven cloths of gold and silver threads, silks or cottons with intricate designs. 

Paintings are numerous all over the country, both traditional and contemporary, woodcarvings for ornamentation and furniture, silver-work and engraving form Yogyakarta and Sumatra, filigree from South Sulawesi and Bali.

Meanwhile, basketry's are found in virtually all parts of the country, and many places in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi are well known for their rattan baskets. 
East Nusa Tenggara and Bali are famous for their plaiting of Lontar leaves, while Java is widely known for plait work of bamboo and pandanus leaves, in the form of baskets, bags, hats, mats, wallets and household articles. 

Earthenware and ceramics have been developed more and more artistically throughout the archipelago Silverware is found in Kota Cede, Yogyakarta and Bali, while Sumatra and Sulawesi are famous for their filigree silver work.


Museum is places to exhibit historical heritage or other feature that related to culture and history. The museum is also available for research activities. The assigned staff conducts guiding to the university students conducting research. Students who wish to conduct a research in the museum are required to write a letter first to the museum director. As part of its efforts to disseminate information on the collections, the museum publishes journals, books, catalogues, brochures and folders.

The museum, in cooperation with other parties, publishes books for sale. The books that have been published include Treasures of the National Museum, Arts of Indonesia, Museum Nasional and The International Symposium: The Role of Museum in Society. Released publications are as shown on the left. For more information on how to obtain these publications, please contact the museum information desk at +6221 386-8172. Most of these publications are available at bookstores in and outside Indonesia.

Cultural Heritage

Cultural Heritage is heritage that related to element of cultural. For example in Bali the cultural heritage is Besakih Temple in Karang Asem regency, Bali, has been proposed as a member of the World Cultural Heritage List. The temple constitutes a powerful religious icon that unifies thousands of Hindu followers from different castes throughout Bali and beyond. Besakih, often referred to as the "mother temple", consists of five temple compounds around the main temple. These represent the five holy directions, and there are also tens clan temples which are used for ancestor worship on different day. To date, Indonesia has three national cultural conservation structures that have been included on the "World heritage List", namely Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple and Sangiran Archeological Site. Besakih Temple will be the fourth.


Monument is a part of the historical building, which described human life. The many monuments, large and small which are found throughout this country offer together virtually the whole spectrum of Indonesian life, thought and history, beginning from the time of the earliest inhabitation and even before, up to the present.

The best known, and also the most pride monument is nasional/MONAS in Jakarta. Monument in Indonesia generally made in order to commemorate the struggle of Indonesian people in independence war around 1945 and monumental situation such proclamation monument, lubang buaya monument etc.

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