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13 Cultural Diversity in Indonesia

by Fifi Fitriani

Indonesia houses a wide spectrum of diverse culture. There are many people with different ethnic background or tribe living among each other in Indonesia. These people that live in the different region in Indonesia have their own kind of food, art performance, traditional costumes, languages and many more. Despite the many differences, Indonesia has learned to embrace them all. This article contains 13 Cultural Diversity in Indonesia that you should know.

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1. Variety of Food

The varying cultures in Indonesia influence the kinds of food that are available in the country. Many of the dishes are inspired through the Chinese and Indian culture. Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore also heavily influence many of Indonesian traditional food. An example of that would be Satay. Satay is one of the famous Indonesian food. The satay is grilled meat served with peanut sauce dressing. The food was once sold as street food in Singapore and Thailand. Additionally, there are also so many traditional foods in North Sumatra. A s well as Street Food in Jakarta with Authentic Taste, Street Food in Bandung You Must Try, and also Street Food in Bali.

2. Traditional Dance

The kinds of traditional dance in Indonesia are also influenced from the diversity of the many ethnic groups. There is the Saman dance which originated from Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. There is also Reog Ponorogo dance from East Java. Moreover, in Bali there are dances that are inspired by the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata which are told from India.

3. Traditional Music

Similar to dance, traditional music of Indonesia comes in various tunes. There is Angklung music from West Java that made it to UNESCO list. Moreover, there is Sasando from West Timor. Other than that, there is also Kroncong music in Jakarta and Maluku. Also there is Gamelan music. That music is a traditional music from East Java and Bali.

4. Literature

The cultural diversity in the country also affects the Indonesian literature. Many of the writers form their writings based on their ethnic background or social conditions. The most famous writer from Indonesia is namely Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Chairil Anwar is heavily celebrated as well. Other Indonesian writers that have helped shaped the literature in Indonesia include Sapardi Djoko Damono, Rendra and Joko Pinurbo.

5. Traditional Clothes

Each ethnic group in Indonesia has their own traditional clothes. These traditional clothes in Indonesia are a part of their culture. Moreover, they wear the clothes for special occasions. Batik is the most known and famous traditional attire from Indonesia. There is also Bundo Kanduang from West Sumatra and Ulee Balang from Aceh.

6. Recreational Activities

What people do for recreational activities also vary in Indonesia. Each region has their own particular activity that is very much the region’s characteristics. In Madura, there are bull races. Bali has cockfighting and Nias culture has stone jumping. Stone jumping is an interesting one as you have to jump over tall walls that are as high as 1.5 metres.

7. Architecture

There are still some housing architectural structures that are very traditional. You can see that the traditional house in Indonesia  are always unique. Moreover, each house has its own characteristics and symbolises different things. Additionally, the traditional houses can also reflect the status of the people living in them.

8. Sculpture

Most Indonesian tribes are known to make sculptures. Each sculpture is different according to which tribe that made it. These sculptures were used to symbolise animals, people and deities. The Dayak tribe has sculpture made with wood. Also the Toraja tribe also has wood sculptures too. Papua and Asmat tribe culture are also fond of making wood sculptures.

9. Historical Constructions

Temples are one of the most famous historical constructions in Indonesia. These ancient temples show that Indonesia have varying culture within each region. Popular temples would be in Bali such as the underwater temple in Bali. Yogyakarta has some temples too. Read about the oldest temple in Indonesia as those temples carry the most history in Indonesia.

10. Languages

In Indonesia, almost everyone can be bilingual. They can speak the national language which is Bahasa Indonesia. But they are able to speak their local language as well. Moreover, each region in Indonesia has their own specific language. There is Bahasa Batak in North Sumatera, Bahasa Bugis in South Sulawesi and Bahasa Bali in Bali. You can learn more about the language in Bali Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesia is what enable Indonesians to easily communicate with each other. As for the local languages, they certainly carry historical and cultural values that must always be remembered.

11. Art Performance

There is a wide variation of art performances from the different regions in Indonesia. Sunda and Java specializes in Wayang. Wayang ( Indonesian Traditional Puppets) is an art performance showing shadow puppet with stories. Bali has Balinese Puppets called shadow puppet as art performance too. Another performance from Java is Ludruk. There is Randai from West Sumatra. The performance has dances, singing and martial arts.

12. Ethnic Rituals

Indonesia has plenty of ethnic rituals and traditions. Every ritual carries different purposes. There is the famous Tana Toraja death rituals  where many foreign tourists come to see. Also, there is a tradition in Papua where people’s fingers are cut off. Their fingers are cut off to show that they have lost family members.

13. Crafts

There is a special kind of crafts in Indonesia that creates a bond among the diverse culture. The name for this special craft is Tenun. Tenun is the Indonesian ikat fabric. It takes skilful hands to craft this fabric. Moreover, it can take up to a year to finish one Tenun. Each region in Indonesia weaves their own patterns and philosophy into the fabric. You might also be interested in reading the most beautiful fabric in Indonesia .

Also read: Baduy Tribe

Although there are different kinds of culture in Indonesia, the people find a way to live with one another in peace. Each one appreciate the beauty of another’s way of life and tradition because that what makes Indonesia special. Moreover, Indonesia is keen on setting a good example of respecting different tribes and traditions. Indonesia highly appreciate differences and expect that people will continue to carry on this value to the next generations as well.

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