Handicrafts in Indonesia

What’s the first thing that crosses your mind when you hear Indonesia? Yup, that’s right. The handicrafts.

Indonesia is a large country that has a lot of natural resources as well as human resources where each person has a different profession to support their family’s economy, like making handmade crafts.

Most Indonesian handicraft products are in the form of souvenirs, jewelry, fabric or clothing, furniture, and other forms and are made of various materials ranging from stone, wood, bamboo, silver, leather, clay, and other materials that are widely known throughout the world.

However, some of these handicrafts need to be preserved in order to not become extinct. This can be done in many ways, starting with supporting the craftsmen by using their products, learning, or even just by viewing and sharing information about their crafts.

Then what are the famous handicrafts from Indonesia?

1. Batik
Picture source: Wikipedia
Well, who doesn’t know this one? Batik is a craft that is well known both domestically and abroad. Even UNESCO has awarded the title Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It was first introduced to the world by President Soeharto, who at that time was wearing batik at the UN conference and one of the Indonesian batik lovers at that time was one of the world leaders from South Africa, Nelson Mandela. On several occasions, he can be seen wearing typical Indonesian batik clothes. Batik itself has actually been around for a long time and is a fabric that is often used by locals for daily wear. However, in the Independence era, the popularity of batik faded because people began to wear western-style clothes. Then, entering the 21st century, clothing designers began to make innovations using batik motifs and made batik more popular again until now.

2. Wood Carving
Picture source: Wikipedia
Indonesian carvings, especially wood carving are a type of craft that is quite popular and appreciated by local and foreign people. Besides the fine and artistic details, wood can grow perfectly in tropical areas like Indonesia. That is why our wood has the best quality and the results are also beautiful. Our wood carving has a high level of complexity and detail and penetrated the international market. Each region has distinctive patterns and forms of wood carvings, but the most famous ones are carving patterns from Bali, Jepara, and Lombok which we can find in decorating home accessories such as doors, house shutters, cabinets, tables, and other household furniture.

3. Wayang
Picture source: Wikipedia
This imitation of a human in the form of a carved wooden or leather puppet is used by the puppeteer as traditional characters’ story performances, both in Java, Bali, Sundanese, and other areas. According to philosophical principles, the word "wayang" means "reflection" or a mirror of human character. For example, wrath, kindness, greed, and so on. Apart from that, puppets are accessories that you can choose to decorate the room, shooting properties, or others. One of them is the Batara and Kresna puppet show which is known to be manly and clever.

4. Anyaman
Picture source: Wikipedia
Anyaman can also be called an art of producing beautiful patterns through the process of crossing materials from plants, such as sticks, rattan, pandanus, and others. These materials are very easy to dry and also soft so they are easy to weave and form certain patterns to form objects that can be used daily. This craft can also be made into a wide variety of useful products, ranging from baskets, home appliances, coasters, chairs, tables, decorative lights, and many more. Anyaman becomes a favorite craft from various parts of the world, for example in Europe and America because it’s so unique. Looking for anyaman bamboo craftsmen? You can meet them in Garut and Tasikmalaya. Their work has entered the international market.

5. Songket

Picture source: Tempo
You can see Indonesian handicrafts in the form of woven fabrics from the typical Songket from Sumatra, Nusa Tenggara, and Kalimantan. These fabrics have a special appeal for many people. They like it because the weaving motif is always unique and has a special meaning, specifically as a form of community life and a result of the emotional closeness of the people in the regions. Weaving itself is a process of making cloth in the traditional way, the work also requires patience and persistence because the time needed to make woven fabrics is quite long. The most famous woven fabrics from Indonesia come from Bali, Minang, Lombok, and Toraja. A long time ago, the woven cloth was introduced by the people of Nusa Tenggara and has been around for 3500 years ago.

6. Wooden masks

Picture source: memenangkan.com
What’s the first impression you feel when you see wooden masks? Unique? Mysterious? Maybe not many people are familiar with this one handicraft. Not as simple as it seems, wooden masks are a duet between spirituality and aesthetics. In Indonesia, wooden masks are used as decoration or dance performances. This handicraft is made of wood and usually comes from Cirebon, Bali, Bandung, Yogyakarta, or Surakarta. Each mask has different motives and peculiarities. Not all of the wood can be used to make masks, but the ones most often used are pule wood or sengon wood. This is because they are easier to find and easier to carve and paint.

7. Pottery
Picture source: Wikipedia
Pottery is a tool made of clay that is formed, burned, and then used as tools that are useful for helping human life such as jugs, pots, jars, braziers, piggy banks, and other objects. One thing you need to remember, the best clay to use as a base for making pottery is clay that is red-brown or brownish white. Clay is prepared in advance before we use it to make pottery. The first stage of clay processing is placing the clay in a place that has been provided then pouring water until it is evenly wet. After that, let the clay sit for one to two days. Then, the clay is ground to make it more sticky and tough and ready to be formed into ceramic objects.

8. Statues
Picture source: tatkala.co
Usually, statues are made with a general-purpose as a religious medium in certain religions, namely used as a means of worshiping their gods and goddesses. The statue here is different from the sculpture in general, which is made as a result of art that is intended as a beauty. Therefore, making a statue is not as simple and careless as making an ordinary statue. To make a statue itself requires special skills. The first steps taken were a large stone which was cut into pieces according to the motif. Stones for making statues are usually obtained from Pacitan and Mojokerto.

9. Silver Handicraft

Source: Wikipedia
Kotagede, Yogyakarta is a regional center of making silver handicrafts. The history of silver handicrafts in Kotagede used to be when Panembahan Senopati in Mataram (Kota Gede) ordered the craftsmen to make jewelry from gold and silver. Besides Yogyakarta, Bali also has regional handicrafts that especially use silver but currently, it’s not well known by tourists, not as familiar as silver crafts in Kotagede Yogyakarta. Silver crafts from Bali are usually better known as Celuk silver crafts because they come from the village of Celuk, Gianyar, Bali.

10. Shell Crafts

Source: Wikipedia
Most of the people who live near the beach, especially fishermen, often get shells. However, the consumption of these marine animals is usually only for getting the meat, while the shells are usually thrown away by fishermen which becomes polluting the environment. However, in the hands of skilled people, this object that was previously beach trash is made into unique handicrafts. These shells are usually reprocessed into decorative lamps, flower vases, mirror frames, photos, and other furniture accessories.

Written by: Fergie Virgiyana
  • Posted at Thursday, 17 Feb 2022

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