Indonesia : 7 Wonderful Culture

Indonesia, a country that is famous with the motto : Unity in Diversity. Well, Indonesia consists of thousands of ethnic and cultural diversity. Here are some unique culture that exists only in Indonesia :

1. Fahombo

Fahombo (Source :

Fahombo is stone jump tradition on the island of Nias, which was done by a man wearing traditional clothes and skip stone structure which is built of  2.3 meters tall. This tradition is only found in the Teluk Dalam area, South Nias.

At the beginning, this tradition was a forum aimed for physical and mental test of the young men in Nias before  adulthood. Every male who wanted to go to the war had to pass this ritual. In addition, Fahombo was also assessed as a requirement for those who are ready to get married. The jumper is not just have to cross a pile of stones but he also should have the right technique at the time of landing. Bad landing can cause muscle injury or broken bones.

Fahombo  was once displayed in a thousand rupiah denominations in the early 1990s with a picture of a man of Nias, which was jumping the stone.

2. Tomb in Stone Cliff – Toraja

Tomb in Stone Cliff, Toraja
Tomb in Stone Cliff, Toraja (Source :

Toraja Tribe settle in the mountainous northern part of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, and very famous for its funeral rituals which is the most important ritual and very expensive. Only the royal family who can make this ritual which was attended by thousands of people and lasted several days. A funeral is sometimes just held after weeks, months, even years since the death relevant and along that time, the family collect enough money for funeral expenses.

In this ritual, there is slaughter of buffalo and the quantity of buffalo shows the powerful of the person. Toraja people believes that the more buffalo slaughtered will make the more quickly reach Puya (Hereafter) for the death.

There are three ways a funeral: The coffin can be stored in the cave, or stored in a tomb carved stone, or hanging on the cliff. Rich people are sometimes buried in the tomb of carved stone and wooden statues, called Tau Tau usually placed in a cave and facing outward. For baby coffin or the children will be hung with ropes on the cliff side.

3. Ngaben – Cremation in Bali Island

Ngaben, Cremation in Bali Island
Ngaben, Cremation in Bali Island (Source :

Ngaben is Hindu cremation ceremony in Bali, Indonesia, which was conducted in order to send the soul to the next life. Ngaben does not performed immediately after someone dies. While waiting, the body is placed like a sleeping person who is only waiting for reincarnation or towards Moksha (freedom from the wheel of death and reincarnation).

On the day, corpses is laid in a coffin which is then stored in sarcophagus formed of ox or monasteries made of wood and paper. Then the ox or the monastery was draped and brought to the cremation. Then, the ox or the monastery and the bodies therein are burnt. The fire is needed to liberate the spirit from the body and facilitate reincarnation.

For the high caste, this ritual can last for 3 days. But for a low caste, first bodies were buried and then, usually in the event group to a village, was cremated.

4. Funeral in Trunyan Bali

Funeral in Trunyan Bali
Funeral in Trunyan Bali (Source :

Trunyan Village is a village located on the shores of Lake Batur – Kintamani, Bali and famous for its unique burial customs. The body of citizen who died, was simply laid on large stone which has 7 pieces basin and is enclosed by a woven bamboo. Uniquely, though the corpse was not embalmed, it does not spread bad smell.

When a Trunyan resident died by reasonable cause, the bodies will be covered by white cloth and be prayed, then placed without buried under a big tree, Taru Menyan, at Sema Wayah. However, if the death cause by unnatural reason, such as accidents, suicide, or murdered, the the corpse will be placed at a location called Sema Bantas. As for burying babies and children or unmarried people will be placed in the Sema Muda.

Bodies that lay on the sema, does not cause odor though there is the decay of the bodies. It is due to Taru Menyan tree, which produce the smell of fragrant and neutralize the smell of rotting corpses.

Taru Menyan tree only grows in this area. Taru means the tree, while Menyan is fragrant. Then, Taru menyan later became the name of the village, Trunyan.

5. Angklung

Angklung (Source :

Angklung is a traditional musical instrument that evolved in Sundanese in western Java Island. Made from bamboo and sounded by shaken. Angklung’s gamut as traditional musical instruments are salendro and pelog.

Angklung is estimated to have been used since Neolitikum era. The creation of angklung related with the agrarian life of Sundanese. Initially, angklung played to lure Dewi Sri (Rice Goddess) for going down to earth and enrich people’s rice crop. This tradition still can be seen in the Baduy community, which is the remnants of native Sundanese people, who use angklung as part of the ritual planting of rice. Angklung was also used as a spirit generator during the battle.

In 1938, Daeng Sutigna (1908-1984) changed the traditional scales angklung (salendro and pelog) to western scales (diatonic) so that angklung can be played in major orchestras. Then in 1966, Udjo Ngalagena (1929-2001) began to teach how to play angklung to many people from various communities and developed a culture workshop for angklung in Bandung, named Saung Angklung Udjo.

On 18 November 2010, UNESCO set angklung as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

6. Batik

Batik (Source :

Batik is the typical clothing of Javanese culture in Indonesia and has existed since the 12th century. Things that make batik became so amazing is the beauty of the pattern which is very unique and traditional.
The process of making batik is as follows:

  1. The first wax is applied over the outline of pattern by using canting (tools that used to draw in batik process) or by stamping. Almost the original cloth is white or beige.
  2. The cloth is dyed in the first dye bath and the area of the cloth where the wax was applied before will remain white.
  3. The two process above can be repeated if there are more color want to be applied to the cloth.
  4. After the coloring process finish,  then all the wax that has been applied thus far is removed. This is done by heating the wax and scraping it off and also by applying hot water and sponging off the remaining wax.

In the past, batik showed the social strata or the family that someone came from. Now, it is no longer valid, although still there are some motifs that are unique and special family-owned by Palace of Yogyakarta and Palace of Surakarta. Batik patterns and motifs have evolved because of interaction with outsiders, particularly in coastal areas.

Currently on the island of Java there are many centers of batik with its distinctive patterns and motifs respectively. Some of them are in Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Pekalongan, Banyumas, Cirebon, Tasikmalaya, Garut, Banten, Jember, Kediri, Malang, Madura. In addition, in regions outside Java are also many centers of batik with each pattern that adds a richness of Indonesian culture, such as Bali, Aceh, Palembang, Manado, Bugis, Kutai, Banjar etc.

On October 2, 2009, the UNESCO Masterpieces of batik as a set of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

7. Pencak Silat

Pencak Silat
Pencak Silat (Source :

Pencak silat is a martial art from Indonesia and every region in Indonesia has their unique martial arts.
In antiquity, the ancestor of the Indonesian created martial art by mimicking the style of animals, to protect and defend himself and his group. Furthermore, this martial arts very much used at the time of the kingdom in the archipelago and at the time against the Dutch colonial occupation.

Pencak silat prefer the dodge and parry techniques and using the power of the opponent motion. Attack techniques are also learnt, but it only used if necessary. So it was obvious that Pencak Silat is an art to defend and not to attack, though it can make a deadly attack. In improving their physical abilities, the warriors also practice by using the “inner power” of human energy. Currently, the human “inner power” is used to cure various diseases and is a kind of alternative medicine.


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