Indonesia has about 300 ethnic groups, each with a cultural identity developed over centuries and influenced by Indian, Arab, Chinese and European sources. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, incorporate aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, as do wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performances.
Textiles such as batik, ikat, ulos and songket are produced throughout Indonesia in different styles depending on the region. In October 2009, Indonesian batik was recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and declared a National Costume. Currently, Indonesia has 7 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage objects, including wayang puppet theatre, Indonesian kris, batik and angklung.
Woodcarving traditions exist in many parts of the country, with exceptional examples in Jepara in Central Java, Bali and Asmat. Traditional carpentry, masonry, stone and woodworking techniques and decorations are also widespread in Indonesian vernacular architecture, and numerous traditional house styles have been developed. There is a great diversity of traditional houses and settlements among Indonesia’s several hundred ethnic groups, each with their unique history.The popularity of the Indonesian film industry peaked in the 1980s and dominated cinemas in Indonesia, although it declined significantly in the early 1990s. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Indonesian films released annually increased steadily.
Architecture in Indonesia
Its architecture is a reflection of the variety of cultures that have influenced Indonesia as a whole. The invaders, the colonizers, the missionaries, the merchants, and the traders have all brought with them cultural changes which have had a deep impact on both architectural styles and techniques. While the most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture are traditionally Indian, Chinese, Arabic, and European architectural impacts have also been significant.
Indonesia’s traditional houses have been the center of a web with customs, and social relationships, as well as traditional laws, taboos, myths, and religions that hold local villagers together. The house forms the centre of the family and its community and is the starting point for many activities of its inhabitants. Traditional houses occupy a prominent position in society based on their social significance.
Examples of Indonesian vernacular architecture, including Tongkonan of the Toraja, Rumah Gadang and Rangkiang of the Minangkabau, Pendopo pavilion in Javanese style with Joglo style roof, longhouses of the Dayak, various Malay houses, Balinese houses and temples, and various styles of Lumbung (rice barns).
Music in Indonesia
Music in Indonesia predates historical records. Various indigenous Indonesian tribes incorporate chants and songs accompanied by musical instruments into their rituals. Typical Indonesian instruments have included angklung, kacapi suling, siteran, gong, gamelan, degung, gong kebyar, bumbung, talempong, kulintang and sasando.
The diverse world of Indonesian musical genres is the result of the people’s musical creativity and subsequent cultural encounters with foreign musical influences in the archipelago. In addition to distinct indigenous musical forms, several genres can trace their origins to foreign influences, such as gambus and qasidah from Middle Eastern Islamic music, keroncong from Portuguese influences, and dangdut – one of the most popular musical genres in Indonesia – with notable influence from Hindi music as well as Malay orchestras.
Today, the Indonesian music industry enjoys nationwide popularity. Thanks to the shared culture and understandable language between Indonesian and Malay, Indonesian music also enjoys regional popularity in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. However, the overwhelming popularity of Indonesian music in Malaysia had alarmed the Malaysian music industry. In 2008, the Malaysian music industry called for the restriction of Indonesian songs on Malaysian radio programmes.
Dances in Indonesia
Traditional dances in Indonesia reflect the rich diversity of the Indonesian people. The dance traditions in Indonesia, such as Javanese, Sundanese, Minangkabau, Balinese, Malay, Acehnese and many other dances are ancient traditions, but also vibrant and dynamic traditions. Several royal houses, the istanas and keratons, still survive in some parts of Indonesia and have become a haven for cultural preservation. The obvious difference between court dance and ordinary folk dance traditions is most evident in Javanese dance. Courtly traditions are also found in Balinese and Malay courts, which usually convey sophistication and prestige. Both Java and Bali have deeper roots in their Hindu-Buddhist heritage, in contrast to Sumatra’s courtly culture, which, along with the remnants of the Sultanate of Aceh and Palembang, are more influenced by Islamic culture.
Dances in Indonesia have their origins in rituals and religious cults, according to many scholars. Such dances are usually based on rituals such as the war dances, the dance of the medicine men, the dance to summon rain or agricultural rituals such as the Hudoq dance ritual of the Dayak. In Bali, dances have become an integral part of Hindu Balinese rituals. Sacred ritual dances are only performed in Balinese temples, such as the sacred Sanghyang dedari and the Barong dance.
The folk dance of the common people is more about social function and entertainment value than ritual. The Javanese ronggeng and the Sundanese jaipongan are the best examples of these folk dance traditions. Both are social dances that serve entertainment rather than ritual. Randai is a folk theatre tradition of the Minangkabau people that includes dance, music, song, drama and the martial art of silat. Certain traditional folk dances have evolved into mass dances with simple but structured steps and movements, such as the Poco-poco dance from Minahasa and the Sajojo dance from Papua.
Sport in Indonesia
Sports in Indonesia are generally male-oriented and spectator sports are often associated with illegal gambling. The most popular sports are badminton and football. Indonesian players have won the Thomas Cup (the men’s badminton world team championship) thirteen of the twenty-six times it has been held since 1949, as well as numerous Olympic medals since the sport was granted full Olympic status in 1992. Indonesian women have won the Uber Cup, the female equivalent of the Thomas Cup, three times, in 1975, 1994 and 1996. Liga Super Indonesia is the leading football club league in the country.
On the international stage, Indonesia had limited success, although in 1938 it became the first Asian team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup as the Dutch East Indies. In 1956, the football team participated in the Olympic Games and played out a hard-fought draw against the Soviet Union. At the continental level, Indonesia once won the bronze medal in football at the 1958 Asian Games. Indonesia’s first appearance in the Asian Cup was in 1996. The Indonesian national team qualified for the AFC Asian Cup in 2000, 2004 and 2007, but failed to reach the next round.
Basketball has a long history in Indonesia and was part of the first Indonesian national games in 1948.Boxing is a popular martial arts spectacle in Indonesia. In racing, Indonesia has the first Indonesian to compete in Formula 1, Rio Haryanto.
Pencak Silat is an Indonesian martial art and was included in the Southeast Asian Games in 1987, with Indonesia emerging as one of the leading forces in the sport. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia is one of the major sporting powers, having won the Southeast Asian Games 10 times since 1977.
TV, Radio, Media in Indonesia
Media freedom in Indonesia increased significantly after the end of President Suharto’s rule. During this time, the now-disbanded Ministry of Information monitored and controlled the domestic media and restricted foreign media. The television market includes ten national commercial stations and provincial stations that compete with the public TVRI. Private radio stations broadcast their own news and foreign stations provide programmes. The number of internet users was reported at 25 million in 2008, and internet usage was estimated at 12.5% in September 2009. 30 million mobile phones are sold annually in Indonesia, 27 % of which are local brands.
Cuisine in Indonesia
Indonesian cuisine is one of the most vibrant and colourful cuisines in the world, full of intense flavours. It is diverse, partly because Indonesia is made up of some 6,000 populated islands out of a total of 18,000 islands in the world’s largest archipelago, and more than 300 ethnic groups call Indonesia home. There are many regional cuisines, often based on indigenous culture and foreign influences such as Chinese, European, Middle Eastern and Indian models. Rice is the main staple food and is served with side dishes of meat and vegetables. Spices (especially chilli), coconut milk, fish and chicken are basic ingredients.
Some popular Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng, gado-gado, sate and soto are ubiquitous in the country and are considered national dishes. However, the official national dish of Indonesia is Tumpeng, which was selected in 2014 by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industries as the dish that combines the diversity of Indonesia’s different culinary traditions. Another popular Indonesian dish is Rendang, which is one of the many Minangkabau cuisines along with Dendeng and Gulai. In 2011, rendang was voted “Worlds Most Delicious Food” by CNN. Rendang is made from beef that is slowly cooked with coconut milk and a mixture of lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric, ginger and chillies, then braised for a few hours to make it tender and tasty. Another fermented food like oncom, which is similar to tempeh in some ways but uses a variety of bases (not just soy) created by different mushrooms, and is especially popular in West Java.