Monday, 4 July 2011

Indonesian Cuisines

Nasi goreng (fried rice), one of the most popular Indonesian dishes.
The cuisine of Indonesia has been influenced by Chinese culture and Indian culture, as well as by Western culture. However in return, Indonesian cuisine has also contributed to the cuisines of neighboring countries, notably Malaysia and Singapore, where Padang or Minangkabau cuisine from West Sumatra is very popular. Also Satay (Sate in Indonesian), which originated from Java, Madura, and Sumatra, has gained popularity as a street vendor food from Singapore to Thailand. In the fifteenth century, both the Portuguese and Arab traders arrived in Indonesia with the intention of trading for pepper and other spices. During the colonial era, immigrants from many different countries have arrived in Indonesia and brought different cultures as well as cuisines.

Most native Indonesians eat rice as the main dish, with a wide range of vegetables and meat as side dishes. However, in some parts of the country, such as Irian Jaya and Ambon, the majority of the people eat sago (a type of tapioca) and sweet potato.
Sate & Soto Ambengan

The most important aspect of modern Indonesia cuisine is that food must be halal, conforming to Islamic food laws. Haraam, the opposite of halal, includes pork and alcoholic drinks. However, in some regions where there is significant non-Muslim population, non-halal food are also commonly served.

Indonesian dishes are usually spicy, using a wide range of chili peppers and spices. The most popular dishes include nasi goreng (fried rice), Satay, Nasi Padang (a dish of Minangkabau) and soy-based dishes, such as tofu and tempe. A unique characteristic of some Indonesian food is the application of spicy peanut sauce in their dishes, as a dressing for Gado-gado or Karedok (Indonesian style salad), or for seasoning grilled chicken satay. Another unique aspect of Indonesian cuisine is using terasi or belacan, a pungent shrimp paste in dishes of sambal oelek (hot pungent chili sauce). The sprinkling of fried shallots also gives a unique crisp texture to some Indonesian dishes.

Chinese and Indian cultures have influenced the serving of food and the types of spices used. It is very common to find Chinese food in Indonesia such as Dim Sum as well as noodles, and Indian cuisine such as Tandoori chicken. In addition, Western culture has significantly contributed to the extensive range of dishes. However, the dishes have been transformed to suit Indonesian people's tastes. For example, steaks are usually served with rice. Popular fast foods such as Kentucky Fried Chicken are served with rice instead of bread, and sambal (spicy sauce) instead of ketchup. Some Indonesian foods have been adopted by the Dutch, like Indonesian rice table or 'rijsttafel'.

Indonesian Handicrafts

Hand drawn batik making
Several Indonesian islands are famous for their batik, ikat and songket cloth. Once on the brink of disappearing, batik and later ikat found a new lease of life when former President Suharto promoted wearing batik shirts on official occasions. In addition to the traditional patterns with their special meanings, used for particular occasions, batik designs have become creative and diverse over the last few years.

Other worldwide famous Indonesian crafts are Jepara wood carving[7] and Kris. In 2005, UNESCO recognized Kris as one of Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity from Indonesia.

Indonesian Architectures

Rumah Gadang, Minangkabau,West Sumatra
For centuries, the most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture were Indian, although European influences have been particularly strong since the nineteenth century and modern architecture in Indonesia is international in scope.

As in much of South East Asia, traditional buildings in Indonesia are built on stilts, with the significant exceptions of Java and Bali. Notable stilt houses are those of the Dayak people in Borneo, the Rumah Gadang of the Minangkabau people in western Sumatra, the Batak people in northern Sumatra, and the Tongkonan of the Toraja people in Sulawesi. Oversized saddle roofs with large eaves, such as the homes of the Batak and the tongkonan of Toraja, are often bigger than the house they shelter. The fronts of Torajan houses are frequently decorated with buffalo horns, stacked one above another, as an indication of status. The outside walls also frequently feature decorative reliefs.

The eighth-century Borobudur temple near Yogyakarta is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and is notable for incorporating about 160 relief panels into its structure, telling the story of the life of the Buddha. As the visitor ascends through the eight levels of the temple, the story unfolds, the final three levels simply containing stupas and statues of the Buddha. The building is said to incorporate a map of the Buddhist cosmos and is a masterful fusion of the didactic, the monumental and the serene.

The nearby ninth-century temple complex at Prambanan contains some of the best preserved examples of Hindu temple architecture in Java. The temple complex comprises eight main shrines, surrounded by 250 smaller shrines. The Indian influence on the site is clear, not only in the style of the monument, but also in the reliefs featuring scenes from the Ramayana which adorn the outer walls of the main temples, and in the votive statuary found within.

Indonesian Sculptures

Relief sculpture from borobudur temple
Indonesia has a long history of stone, bronze and iron ages arts. The megalithic sculptures can be found in numerous archaeological sites in Sumatra, Java to Sulawesi. The native Indonesians tribes have their own distinct tribal sculpture styles, usually created to depict ancestors, deities and animals. The pre-Hindu-Budhist and pre-Islamic sculptures can be traced in the artworks of indigenous Indonesian tribes. The most notable sculptures are those of Asmat wooden sculpture of Papua, the Dayak wooden mask and sculpture, the ancestral wooden statue of Toraja, also the totem-like sculpture of Batak and Nias tribe.

The stone sculpture artform particularly flourished in the eighth to tenth centuries Java and Bali, which demonstrate the influences of Hindu-Buddhist culture, both as stand-alone works of art and also incorporated into temples. Most notable sculpture of classical Hindu-Buddhist era of Indonesia are the hundreds of meters of relief and hundreds of stone buddhas at the temple of Borobudur in central Java. Approximately two miles of exquisite relief sculpture tell the story of the life of Buddha and illustrate his teachings. The temple was originally home to 504 statues of the seated Buddha. This site, as with others in central Java, show a clear Indian influence. The examples of notable Indonesian Hindu-Buddhist sculptures are; the grand statue of Bhairava Adityawarman discovered in Sumatra, the Vishnu mounting Garuda statue of king Airlangga and the exquisite statue of Eastern Javanese Prajnaparamita dated from Singhasari kingdom. Today, the Hindu-Buddhist style stone sculptures are reproduced in villages in Muntilan near Borobudur and also in Bali.

Today in Indonesia, the richest, most elaborate and vivid wooden sculpture and wood carving traditions can be found in Bali and Jepara, Central Java. Balinese handycrafts, sculptures, masks, and other carving artworks are popular souvenir for tourist that have visited Indonesia. On the other hand the Jepara wood carving are famous for its elaborately carved wooden furnitures, folding screens also pelaminan gebyok (wedding throne with carved background).

Indonesian Paintings

Balinese painting Legong Dance by Ida Bagus Made.
What Indonesian painting before the 19th century are mostly restricted to the decorative arts, considered to be a religious and spiritual activity, comparable to the pre-1400 European art. Artists name are anonymous, since the individual human creator was seen as far less important than their creation to honor the deities or spirits. Some examples are the Kenyah decorative art, based on endemic natural motifs such as ferns and hornbills, found decorating the walls of Kenyah long houses. Other notable traditional art is the geometric Toraja wood carvings.

Under the influence of the Dutch colonial power, a trend toward Western-style painting emerged in the 19th century. In the Netherlands, the term "Indonesian Painting" is applied to the paintings produced by Dutch or other foreign artists who lived and worked in the former Netherlands-Indies. The most famous indigenous 19th century Indonesian painter is Raden Saleh (1807–1877), the first indigenous artist to study in Europe. His art is heavily influenced by Romanticism.

The 1920s to 1940s were a time of growing nationalism in Indonesia. The previous period of romanticism movement was not seen as a purely Indonesian movement and did not developed. Painters began to see the natural world for inspiration. Some examples of Indonesian painter during this period are the Balinese Ida Bagus Made and the realist Basuki Abdullah. The Indonesian Painters Association (Persatuan Ahli-Ahli Gambar Indonesia or PERSAGI, 1938–1942) was formed during this period. PERSAGI established a contemporary art philosophy that saw art works as reflections of the artist’s individual or personal view as well as an expression of national cultural thoughts.

From the 1940s on, artists started to mix Western techniques with Southeast Asian imagery and content. Painters that rooted in the revolutionary movement of the World War and the post-World War period started to appear during this period, such as Sudjojono, Affandi, and Hendra.

During the 1960s, new elements were added when abstract expressionism and Islamic art began to be absorbed by the art community. Also during this period, group of painters that are more concerned about the reality of Indonesian society began to appear, taking inspiration from the social problem such as division between the rich and the poor, pollution, and deforestation. The national identity of Indonesia was stressed by these painters through the use of a realistic, documentary style. During the Sukarno period this socially-engaged art was officially promoted, but after 1965 it lost popularity due to its presumed communist tendencies.

Three art academies offer extensive formal training in visual art: Bandung Institute of Technology founded in 1947; the Akademi Seni Rupa Indonesia (Indonesian Fine Arts Academy) or ASRI, now known as ISI, in Yogyakarta was inaugurated in 1950; and the Institut Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta Arts Institute) or IKJ, was opened in 1970.