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Immigrants from China, India, the Arab world and later Europe traveled to the archipelago in search of the unique spices grown in Indonesia.These traders settled and brought with them rich artistic traditions which influenced the development of local art.
The rich cultural heritage of art and handicrafts is one of Indonesia's true national riches.One of the many pleasures of living in Indonesia is having the opportunity to learn about and collect Indonesian arts and handicrafts.The diversity evident in Indonesia's 300 plus ethnic groups is reflected in the diversity of its art forms.Often expats are able to acquire things in Indonesia that they wouldn't have been able to afford at home where import duties and retail mark-ups make the prices skyrocket.In addition, the purchase of various handicrafts is often associated with special memories ...Indonesian art forms can include designs traced back to early animistic beliefs, ancestor worship, Hindu or Buddhist influenced motifs brought by Indian traders, Chinese or Islamic symbols and beliefs.
Foreign influence on Indonesian art forms was brought about by centuries of exposure to other cultures through trade.
Your travels throughout Indonesia will be enriched by your exposure to the development of different art forms in each province. The mythical naga or dragon; the mamuli pendant - symbol of fertility from Sumba, the tree of life, the mythological beast Garuda (also a national symbol found on the Panca Silasymbol), all have special meanings in Indonesian traditions, myths and beliefs.
Exploring the origins of these designs and what they mean is fascinating.
Plants, animals (mythological and real) and geometric forms are also widely used and represent specific meanings in particular art forms.
Motifs drawn from nature - leaves, flowers, mountains, water, clouds, animals often represent religious or mystical symbols related to early forms of animism, then later to Hinduism.
Visit either Sarinah Jaya or Pasaraya in Jakarta for a good introduction to Indonesian handicrafts, though don't expect to find true antiques there.