Archive for the ‘people & culture’ Category

Wayang Indonesia

Wayang is an Indonesian word for theatre (literally “shadow”). When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theater, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Performances of shadow puppet theater are accompanied by gamelan in Java, and by “gender wayang” in Bali.

UNESCO designated Wayang Kulit, a shadow puppet theater and the best known of the Indonesian wayang, as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003. In return of the acknowledgment, UNESCO demanded Indonesia to preserve their heritage.

The History

Wayang is a generic term denoting traditional theatre in Indonesia. There is no evidence that wayang existed before Hinduism came to Southeast Asia sometime in the first century CE brought in by Indian traders. However, there very well may have been indigenous storytelling traditions that had a profound impact on the development of the traditional puppet theatre. The first record of a wayang performance is from an inscription dated 930 CE which says “si Galigi mawayang,” or “Sir Galigi played wayang”. From that time till today it seems certain features of traditional puppet theatre have remained. Galigi was an itinerant performer who was requested to perform for a special royal occasion. At that event he performed a story about the hero Bhima from the Mahabharata

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Short History of The Indonesian Language

By Iem Brown

I would not say that learning Indonesian is “easy”, as I don’t believe for an adult learning any language is “easy”. It is, however, relatively “easy” to get by in Indonesian, as historically speaking, the basis of this language was for many centuries used as a lingua franca or a means of communication among the traders, missionaries etc in the Indonesian archipelago including Indians, Chinese, Arabs and Europeans, perhaps as early as the first century. Because it was a lingua franca it had to be relatively simple for the different people visiting the archipelago to be able to communicate with it, in a relatively short time.

The place of origin of this language is around the Riau islands in the Malacca Straits, the thoroughfare of the trading traffic. The busy trade routes of the Strait of Malacca date from the 5th century CE. The earliest epigraphical evidence of the language, known as the “old Malay” language, is dated around 7th century and found at sites in Sumatera such as Kedukan Bukit, Talang Tuo, Kota Kapur and Karang Berahi. The language belongs to the family of Austronesian languages, found in the region from Madagascar in the west, Taiwan in the north, Easter Island in the East, and New Zealand, Christmas and Cocos Islands in the south. The first “foreign” contact were with Hindu Indians, followed by Muslim Arabs and Chinese before the arrival of the Europeans. The Portuguese (1511 to 1596) and then the Dutch (from 1596 onwards) languages, and of course English, enriched the vocabulary of the language, as did the 300 regional languages.

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Batik – Wikipedia

Batik is a cloth that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique.

Javanese traditional batik, especially from Yogyakarta and Surakarta, has special meanings rooted to the Javanese conceptualization of the universe. Traditional colours include indigo, dark brown, and white, which represent the three major Hindu Gods (Brahmā, Visnu, and Śiva). This is related to the fact that natural dyes are only available in indigo and brown. Certain patterns can only be worn by nobility; traditionally, wider stripes or wavy lines of greater width indicated higher rank. Consequently, during Javanese ceremonies, one could determine the royal lineage of a person by the cloth he or she was wearing.

Other regions of Indonesia have their own unique patterns that normally take themes from everyday lives, incorporating patterns such as flowers, nature, animals, folklore or people. The colours of pesisir batik, from the coastal cities of northern Java, is especially vibrant, and it absorbs influence from the Javanese, Arab, Chinese and Dutch culture. In the colonial times pesisir batik was a favorite of the Peranakan Chinese, Dutch and Eurasians. UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009. As part of the acknowledgment, UNESCO insisted that Indonesia preserve their heritage.

Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are also found in several countries such as Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore. Malaysian batik often displays plants and flowers, as Islam forbid pictures of other living beings.

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Posted July 13, 2010 by apajasaja in people & culture

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The Mecca of Muslim Fashion

Melbourne. On pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Indonesian Muslims are not only carrying out haj rituals, says a chief editor of a woman’s magazine.

They have also unintentionally become real life models of Indonesian Islamic fashion, she says.

Jetti R. Hadi, the editor in chief of NooR, a magazine specializing in Muslim fashion, said that during the haj a lot of people complemented Indonesians’ attire. “People would say, ‘Oh, you have such beautiful clothes’. The women always look attractive,” she said recently.

As the most-populous Muslim country, with a growing number of women opting to wear the jilbab or headscarves, Muslim fashion has emerged as a promising industry in Indonesia, with many designers focusing on clothes and accessories that adheres to Islamic principles of covering the skin and hair of women.

In the international fashion scene, Muslim wear and accessories in the coming years is projected to reach 20 percent of the total fashion industry, which was worth US$1.7 trillion in 2008, according to Jetti.

While none of the Muslim countries are capitalizing on this, those in the Indonesian fashion field are set to make Indonesia the “Mecca” of Muslim fashion, Jetti said.

The government, realizing the various designers of Muslim wear, who combine colorful Indonesian fabrics of batik and ikat with interesting cloth design — distinguishing itself from Middle Eastern countries style Muslim clothes of dark abayas, burqas, and niqabs — are currently joining forces with the industry to promote the country’s Islamic fashion.

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Sundanese Style

1. ABOUT
The Sundanese are the second-largest ethnic group in Indonesia. There is a complex history behind their rich cultural traditions. This history can be traced back to the fifth century AD and the Tarumanagara dynasty, which established trade links extending as far as China. A succession of Sundanese kingdoms was followed by 350 years of Dutch colonization. During this time Sundanese lands became an important source of spices, coffee, quinine, rubber, and tea for export.

2. LOCATION
The Sundanese number more than thirty million people. The vast majority live on the island of Java. Java is a small island, but it is the administrative and economic center of the Indonesian archipelago (chain of islands). The larger Javanese ethnic group forms the majority in Java’s central and eastern provinces. The Sundanese constitute a majority in West Java. West Java spreads over an area of 16,670 square miles (43,177 square kilometers), about half the size of greater metropolitan Los Angeles, California. The northern coast is flat, and the southern coast is hilly. The central area is mountainous and is marked by some spectacular volcanoes.

3. LANGUAGE
Like other Indonesians, most Sundanese are bilingual. They speak both their native tongue, Sundanese, and the Indonesian national language. Generally, Sundanese is the language of choice among family members and friends, while in the public sphere, Indonesian is used. Both languages are part of the Austronesian language family.

Sundanese is extremely diverse, with various regional dialects. However, all are divided into different levels of formality depending on the social status of the person being addressed. Thus, the words one uses when talking to one’s father differ from those used when talking to a friend or to one’s younger sister. Most people use only two levels, or sometimes three. However, some older people make use of four.

Sundanese naming practices are extremely varied. Some people have only a single name, while others have a first name and a last name. Women do not legally change their names after marriage but are frequently called “Mrs. [name of husband].”

4  FOLKLORE
Myths and heroic stories are an extremely important part of Sundanese culture. Such stories are told through films, puppet shows, oral poetry, novels, and even comic books. Some are regional in character. They explain the history of a local kingdom, or the mythical origin of a lake or mountain. Others, like the Ramayana, are Hindu in origin.

One myth the Sundanese think of as distinctly their own is the legend of Nyi Loro Kidul, the Queen of the South Seas. As the story goes, in the fourteenth century there was a princess in the Pajajaran kingdom whose thirst for power was so great that her father placed a curse on her. The curse gave her more power than he himself had, but allowed her to wield it only over the South Seas. The princess was then reincarnated as the exquisitely beautiful Nyi Loro Kidul. Said to live off West Java’s south coast to this day, she is more powerful than all the spirits. She is said to have received nighttime visits from Javanese kings and Muslim saints in her palace beneath the waves. Men who swim or fish off the south coast are warned not to wear green, for those who do are often spirited away by Nyi Loro Kidul and never return.

5. RELIGION
The overwhelming majority of Sundanese are orthodox Muslim, although some are Catholic or Protestant. Many Muslims pray five times a day, travel to Mecca at some point in their life, and fast during the holy month of Ramadan. In towns and cities, there is a mosque in every neighborhood. Each day the calls to prayer are broadcast over loudspeakers for everyone to hear. There are still many non-Islamic elements in Sundanese ceremonies and rituals, particularly those surrounding the growing of rice. They probably come from the Hindu religion that preceded the spread of Islam, or from pre-Hindu Sundanese culture.

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Posted June 28, 2010 by apajasaja in people & culture

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Kuda Lumping – Eating Glass and Worship

Kuda lumping, worship satan

Kuda Lumping is the art of dance that is played with a horse property in the form of imitation, made from woven bamboo or braids. None of the historical record can explain the origin of this dance, only verbal history passed down from one generation to the next. Kuda Lumping dance is a form of appreciation and support of the commoners against cavalry of Prince Diponegoro in the face of Dutch colonizers.

There is also a version that mentioned that the Kuda Lumping dance depicting the struggle of Raden Patah, assisted by Sunan Kalijaga, against the Dutch colonialists. Another version says that, this dance tells the story of the Mataram army war game led the lane I, King of Mataram, to face the Dutch troops.

Regardless of their origin and historical value, Kuda Lumping dance illustrates the spirit of heroism and military aspects of a cavalry or cavalry. This is evident from the movements of a dynamic and aggressive, through the flick of woven bamboo, mimicking the movement like a horse in the middle of a war. Often in dance prformance also featured attractions that demonstrate the power of magical supernatural smells, such as the attraction to chew glass, slashed his arms with machetes, set fire to himself, walking on broken glass, and others. Perhaps, the attraction supernatural force that’s reflects the antiquity of the Kingdom of developing in Java environments and a non-military aspects that are used to fight the Dutch troops.

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Posted June 24, 2010 by apajasaja in people & culture

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Batik: Graffiti On A Cloth Of Honor That Proud Asians

Batik Tulis

History of Batik-making in Indonesia is closely related to the development and dissemination of the Majapahit empire of Islam in Java. In some records, Batik development is mostly done in times of Mataram Kingdom, then on the work of Solo and Yogyakarta. As for starting the spread of this batik art belongs to the people of Indonesia and Javanese in particular after the end of the century or the beginning of XVIII-XIX century.

Batik produced until the early twentieth century and Batik Tulis known after World War I depleted or around the year 1920. Many areas in the central Javanese batik are areas Batik students and then become a tool of economic income by figures Muslims trader against the Dutch economy.

Batik art is the art of drawing on the fabric for clothing that becomes one king’s family Indonesian culture. Batik was originally done only within the Kingdom and the results are limited to clothing and the king’s family and his followers. Because many of the followers of the king who lived outside the palace, the art of batik was brought by them out of the palace and was done in place of each. Then the art of batik was imitated by the people nearest and subsequently expanded into the work of women in the household to fill his spare time. Batik clothing that not only the royal family, but became a popular folk clothes either women or men. The white fabric used when it is the result of homespun.

Medium coloring materials used consist of plants native to Indonesia, among others, made their own from Noni Tree, Tinggi, Soga, Nila, and materials made from Soda Ash, as well as salts made from the Land of Mud.

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Posted June 17, 2010 by apajasaja in people & culture

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