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Best 14 Unique Handicrafts of Indonesia (#6 is Epic)

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Like we know, Indonesia is one big country with so many unique and different culture for every islands. Some of them are dominated by Islam, some by Hindu, others by Christian, and so on. Beside they have unique culture, its also make them have lot handicrafts which attracted some tourists and make them become more valuable in world wide.  For now, we will talk about some handicrafts from Indonesia with their good quality. So, who are they?


1.Javanese Keris (Central Java)

Keris is Malay weapon and initiated to used since 600 years ago and this weapon can be found in some countries, such as Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, South Thailand, Phillipines, and Malaysia. Keris is originally from Java, and has been used since 9 and 14th also keris has a spirit itself. The history of keris can be treated to sculptures on the walls of Borobudur temple, for more than 400 years ago.

As Javanese belief that someone’s dignity is also shown by the way he or she dressed, which in Java also showed by usually wears keris in wedding custome. The main function of this weapon in the past was for defense from enemy, animals, or murder enemies. But for now, the function already charged into peace, which people used this weapon in occation such as in little wedding or royal ceremony. In traditional houses, a keris would be secured to the main roof to protect the house. Mythologically, owners of keris required to conduct special ceremonies to retain the weapon’s super natural powers. They have to wash and “bathe” the keris on their first Javanese lunar year with special offerings, consisting flowers, rice, and incense. The keris has also been used for medical purposes and quranic in scriptions are inscribed on the blades.

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2. Angklung (West Java)

Angklung is musical instrument which belong to gamelan and the word “angklung” originated come from two words, which are “angka” means tones and “lung” means broken or lost. Angklung is made out of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame and each tube is tuned by cutting a tounge shaped segment about two thirds of it lengths and close by node at a bottom.

Each angklung produce single note and smaller tubes produce tones of higher pitches. Usually, it takes around six months to produce one angklung because the bamboos have to be cut, soaked in water, cleaned, also dried in the sun before being shaped to get desired around.

Originally, the angklung had religius ritual function and the main function was to medium invite Dewi Sri (Rice Godess or prosperity) to come down to the earth and gave fertility to plants. Some villages in West Java also still use angklung in many ceremonies, such as in pesta panen, ngaseuk pare, nginebkeun pare, ngampihkeun pare, seren taun, nadran, turun lan sedekah bumi, etc. The oldest angklung still exist and called as Angklung Grubag which made in 17th at Jajinya, Bogor and for now the angklung is remained in Sri Bduga Museum, Bandung. Since then, angklung has been used for educational also entertainment purposes and are able to accompany western music instrument in orchestra. In 2010, UNESCO designated angklung as masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

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3. Batik Madura (East Java)

Most people are familiar with Madura batik with a strong character, which character created by free and bold colors; including red, yellow, and light green. Designs vary by region and artist, but batik from Java, Indonesia is broadly grouped into two categories: in land and coastal batik. Madura batik is belong to coastal batik, which has more colorful and brand with florals and animals motif.

Madura island itself has long been known numbers of centers of batik, and Pamekasan become most populated of the crafters also entrepeneurs of batik. Until now, Pamekasan known as one of the industrial center in the craft of batik Madura.

Madura batik much in demand and popular with local and international customers. Not only in Pamekasan, Madura batik also produced in another places such as Asin Sumenep, Bangkalan, and Sampang. We can get this handicrafts start from Rp.50.000, – until Rp.1.000.000,- and the highest price ever recorded is Rp.3.500.000,- . Motif of Madura batik usually come from animals, plants, or the creations of the creator.

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4. Songket (South Sumatra)

The words “songket” come from the Malay or Indonesian words, and “sungkit” which means to hook. Another says that the word songket was derived from Songka, a Palembang which gold was first waven. Songket is fabric that belongs to brocade family textile of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Its hand woven in silk or cotton and intricately patterned with gold or silver threads.

Songket is luxury product traditionally worn during ceremonial occasions as sarong, shoulder clothes, or head ties. In Indonesia, songket is associated with Sriwijaya, a wealthy 7th – 13 th century maritime trading empired based on Sumatra due to fact that Palembang is famous songket producer in Indonesia.

Songket is a textile that required some amount of real gold leafs to be more gold threads and hand woven into excuisite fabrics. For now, songket is produced in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Bali, Sulawesi, Lombok, and Sumbawa also outside Indonesia only at Malaysia and Brunei. Fashion at that time was existed in the form of intricate motifs and patterns, hand woven into the most expensive materials and worn only by the royal families.

Read also: Most Beautiful Fabric in Indonesia

5. Leather puppet shadow (Yogyakarta)

The term “wayang” is the Javanese word for shadow, or bayang in basic Indonesian. Wayang is usually associated with the puppet, itself or the whole puppet performance while the puppet made from leather.

Beside we can buy it, ther’es a performances of shadow puppet theater and usually accompanied by a gamelan band in Java. UNESCO already designated wayang kulit, a shadow puppet theatre and best understood of the Indonesian wayang as masterpiece of oral and intangable heritage of humanity on 2003.

The complete characters in leather puppet reveals number in the hundreds and each puppet has various stay or act. The creatures that are not played are embaded banana stem thats put near the story teller. While being played, the creatures will certainly look as shadows from backsight of the white display before the story teller. The rates in the leather puppet originated from some aged publications such as Ramayana, Mahabarata, Pustaka Raja Purwana, and Purwakanda. The show usually lasted for two hours which truly Java leather puppet shadow show usually for all night, could be start from 10 PM to 4 AM. But for now, it become shorten one because young people dont really interest with puppets shadow show, only the old man who still like it. Wayang kulit is still the most well known Indonesian wayang performance, its made of cow’s leather, meticolous lychesed with very fine tools and supported by carefully shaded buffalo horn handles and control rods.

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6. Silver Crafts (Kota Gadang, West Sumatra)

Kota Gadang is a famous center of silver handicrafts and Minang songket. When Dutch colonized us, the craft from Kota Gadang has grown by leaps and often purchased by the wife of Dutch official. The wife buying this craft and bring it to their country as souvenirs. This craft not only attracted enthusiasts from various island in Indonesia but also some people who come from abroad.

Kota Gadang motif of silver made in various forms such as jewelry, kind of accessories, and various displays to miniature Minang traditional custome. This silver has suitable motifs, not shiny colors, and such an impression in shades of milky white doff elegant. Most tourist who come to there are most interested with black silver with the price can start from Rp.150.000,- until Rp.1.000.000,-

7. Lombok Pearl Sea (West Nusa Tenggara)

Do you know if Indonesia is the biggest producer of the most valuable of all pearls? Like we know, pearl is always become treasures of muth and legend inspiring the phrase “nature’s most precious gift” and because of that, pearl become treasure of almost incomparable value. Lombok island has been famous world wide as one of the best pearl producers and it been better with many pearl handicraft centers.

In Sekar bela village, Mataram city there’s lot any jewelry craftsmen of pearl, gold, and silver which brought from Sekotong which change into beautiful jewelry. We also can find raw pearl but also jewelry with gold and silver material. The jewelry also made into bracelet, neclace, and earrings which we can also combined it with sapphire or amethyst.

We dont have to worry about the price there because its vary and depend on the type and weight. There are two kinds of pearls available here, which are sea and fresh water but the sea pearl is more expensive than another one, which we can get it from Rp. 100.000,- until Rp.500.000,- per gram and we only need to spend Rp.15.000,- for fresh water pearl.

8. Bali Painting (Bali)

Balinese art – especially Bali painting is grew from the work of Majapahit kingdom’s artist who moved from Java to Bali in late 13th century. Bali has it own painting style which can be unique and has 4 styles until now which known as Batuan style, Ubud, Young Artist, and Kumasan style.

The first painting on canvas was introduced in 1950. It would not feel complete if short account on what tradition actually under lies the profession of an artist in Bali, especially painter, carver, and architect. Kamasan, in the Klungkung regency of East Bali was the center of classical Balinese art as well as was Ubud from the sixteenth to twentieth century.

Balinese arts began to be influenced by artists from the west who resided in Bali. The painting not only used new materials and canvas but also showed tendency towards more realism leading to a great deal of innovation and modernization. Modern arts in Bali is full of surprises and possibilities where the artists explore their talents using collaboration of all elements and called as artistic one. With high market demands and numbers of art which increasing, painting in Bali has slowly become industry. Every day there large numbers of paintings which sent to almost part of the world.

Unlined another fine art, this art done by one single artist and the mass production painting products are made by workers who do specific positions in the chain of production to optimize profitability. Each pair is done by different person and when factory get bigger, a pattern for sketching is made so the workers can duplicate it as many times as possible in very short time. Every piece of arts has it own admirer, whether its made of exclusive or a open at work with multi-talented techniques.

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9. Tautau statue (Toraja, South Sulawesi)

Toraja ethnique group who living in the nouthern mountain of South Sulawesi until today still at here to their age-old beliefs rituals and traditions. For Torajans, death has always been a central theme where in addition to the well known elaborate funeral ceremony, and Toraja also has honor to decreased by carving out the likeness of the dead, known as Tau-tau.

Tau-tau statues is an effigy that represents the person who has passed away which made from wood or bamboo and usually found near the body of decreased has been laid to rest. Tau-tau are also regarded as guardians of the tomb as well as protectors of the living.

The word Tau-tau is derived from the term “Tau” which means human and the repetition of the world in the local as well as in the Indonesian language means “something that resembles”. Although they are carved based on the physical form of the decreased, Tau-tau represent their spirits that are believed to continue the existence after life.

According to Torajan beliefs, every person who already passed will enter Poyo after they have passed all correct funeral ceremonies in accordance with their social status. For those of lower social status, Tau-tau may be made of bamboo, while the middle class made of sandalwood or randu wood, and the highest class is made from jackfruit tree. For the funeral ceremony, the tau-tau has to be dressed in traditional custome which the male wear sarong and the female wear kebaya. Even recently most Torajans have converted to Christianity, tau-tau remains an important symbol in its culture.

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10. Tenun Ikat  Fabric (East Nusa Tenggara)

Tenun ikat is unique fabric which come from Indonesia because it present at all cultural occasions such as births, weddings, and funeral ceremonies. Tenun ikat is also very important for people in East Nusa Tenggara for some traditions, such as in the wedding; groom need to bring money instead an ikat and the woman should bring ikat.

Its also necessary to girl there to learn about make those tenun ikat (fabric) which usually they start it from fourth grade of elementary schools, which is about rolling threads – continue with weaving lesson in fifth grade and first clothes they will make is clothes for men.

After they mastered it, they will start to make clothes for women too. Ikat in here usually use synthetic dyes so can produces brighter colors and popular pattern from its gecko, which locals says it as luck to someone who can see it. These fabrics usually handed down for many generations and are considered precious for the family. They also have another patterns, such as pineapples, flowers, or a plate of offerings. We can buy this fabric which fashionable and beauty with ethnic style and we can orders ikat with our own size and design.

11. Sasirangan Fabric (South Kalimantan)

Sasirangan is another fabric from Indonesia which exactly come from Banjar and made with puncture technique baste and then tied the rope and dried. Sasirangan fabric using dyes from natural ingredients and has 6 primary colors, which are red from red chillies, green from leaves, black from kabuau, purple from the seeds of Gandaria, and chocolate from skin of fruit rambutan.

Sasirangan fabric commonly used as traditional fabric which used in tribal events and sasirangan words come from the word meanings menyirang baste, as its done in away baste and tied with raffia roped – dyed and process until now is created inanually. We also can choose which pattern we like from those fabric because sasirangan have lot patterns, such as kambang king, star bahambur, bark, jajumputan, leaves jaruju, kambang cape, and so on.

This clothe is also become traditional dress worn during traditional ceremonies and even used in treatment of the sick. Sasirangan fabric is made from mori fabric, polyester, are swen in certain gray then washed with variety of desired color and resulting in material dress patterned with colorful stripes of motifs that unique and distinctive. The price is depends on the size and fabric of cloth and we can get it in variable products like in dress, wallets, shoes, sandals, and bags.

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12. Anjat backpack (East Kalimantan)

Its handicraft which rattan backpack with rain forest pattern, made from natural and sustainably collected ingredients. These backpacks are used for storage and jungle expedition and very durable also water resistant.

The patterns have deep symbolic significance and differ from village to another village and as result, the product is entirely unique shaped like tube, Anjat as an average height about 70 cm with a circle of about 50 cm. Anjat topis equipped with small bracelets made from woven rattan and fitted with rope.

We can say that process of making Anjat isnt easy one because rattan must be cleaved and mashed then assambled into the shape of Anjat.

The process continue with weaving from left to right and end with layering the cover with fabric. Anjat which made by Dayak usually have leaf animal motifs and also floral. Even Anjat already become beautiful souvenirs and high economic value, this handicrafts is still rare.

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13. Noken (West Papua)

In early 2012, UNESCO recognized the noken, traditional Papua bag as wold cultural heritage. Beside noken being practicial bag to carry things, noben contain “life’s item” as fountain of knowledge and thinking tribes use the noken as a symbol of initiation, which they already eight years they will get notens filled with wisdom, religious values, and spiritual strength.

Beside they get noken, they will get a name as symbol they have gone the initiation process. The ability to knit noken is passed down from one generation to another generation and usually its done by women.

Noken is handmade knotted or woven not made from wood fiber by the peoplein Papua. Noken is used by men and women to carry variety things, include crop, fish, live stock, firewood, and even babies. Several trees that usually used as material of noken are melinjo, mahkota dewa, orchid, pandan leaves, etc. The dominant colors of noken are red, white, black, yellow, and brown which these colors closely related to the life of people in Papua and West Papua.

14. Tapis Fabric (Lampung, Sumatra)

Woven tapis is one of traditional crafts people align their lives in Lampung both the environment and the creator of the universe. This fabric also has some motifs, which are animals, sun, moon, and jasmine. This also embroidered with white silk thread which make it more special. Variety ship motif on the cloth shows diversity or forms of vessels used.

Meanwhile, not all tribes of Trapis Lampung used as this of survival supplies, and commonly Lampung tribe producing and developing tapestru weaving is habitual Lampung tribe. This fabric is made from cotton yarn and gold thread, which to make decorative embroidery on the filter with the system. The processing include belt system while the use of gold thread has been known for a long time.

This fabric usually used by women as a cover of the lower body, from waist to ancles. The process of making kain tapis is complex and must be done manually, so that process can take weeks or even months, and that why Kain Tapis has a relatively expensive price. The price range are vary greatly, depends on the complexity of motives, proportion of gold threads, and age of the clothes. If its been decades old, old piece of cloth filter can be hundreds of million rupiah and become collectibles.

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Thats all we know about some handicrafts in Indonesia, so beautiful and unique right? So, are you ready to explore Indonesia more? 🙂

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