Indonesia comprises a whopping 17,000+ islands. 17K! And it’s the 4th most populated country on the planet. There is a rich diversity of people and religions: 300 tribal and ethnic groups and an equal amount of languages. Because of this rich heterogeneity, Indonesia produces an incredible abundance of art and crafts. The artforms range widely- from intricate jewellery making to extraordinary furniture carvings. So much more than simply a Bali vacation, this country is a wealth of creativity waiting to be explored. See below for some of the most popular crafts emerging from this beautiful country:
Indonesian Handicrafts Worth Exploring
One of the most prolific art mediums to emerge from Indonesia is their stunning textiles. The types of textiles are diverse and varied; one you may recognise is batik, which is created by the artist drawing patterns in wax on fabric before dyeing. Another familiar design is ikat - a dyeing technique similar to tie dye; yarns are resist-dyed after weaving to create unique patterns. Songket is a traditional textile that is perhaps the least mainstream: a stunning, hand woven brocade made from silk or cotton. Sarongs and headscarves are made from songket and worn in ceremonial events such as weddings or festivals.
Indonesia is the world’s main producer of rattan, a climbing, vine-like palm- thus basket weaving has become a common art form of Indonesia. From simple baskets to ornate rattan chairs, this medium is widespread and a large export of Indonesia.
Wood carving is an impressive form of artistic expression in Indonesia. Intricate wall decor, statues, and furniture are among the objects created from wood. Artists often use teak, but sandalwood, mahogany, ebony and jackfruit are also utilized.
Wayang (or Wajang) is a traditional form of Javanese puppetry theatre. Used for storytelling, Wayang puppets are created in either wood or leather, and are performed in front of a screen so that the audience may watch the shadows of the puppets. Wayang plays are typically enjoyed on important occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Indonesian soil is ideal for crafting ceramics and different types of pottery. The wares are typically terracotta, left natural and unglazed, yet often painted. Bowls, vessels and figurines are common, as well as jewelry made from ceramic shards found from broken dishes.
One of the most unusual art pieces from Indonesia is the kris: a decorative ceremonial weapon. The kris is an asymmetrical dagger, created from laminations of iron and nickelous iron. Its identifiable wavy blade is unique, and said to possess luck or magical powers. The blades’ handles are often gorgeously ornate and special.