5 Things to Know About Indonesian Textiles

By Unit Pengelola Museum Seni

Kain TatibinUnit Pengelola Museum Seni

Diversity is the heart of Indonesia

The Indonesian archipelago is striving with diversity of tribes, culture and languages. This translates to multiple traditions of textile making. Let's begin with five key things to know... 

Ceremonial cloth (1936)Unit Pengelola Museum Seni

1. There are over 50 kinds of Indonesian traditional textile

Each with distinct styles, motifs or techniques. Popular traditional textiles widely used are Batik, Songket and Ikat

Batik Sarong by E. v. ZuylenUnit Pengelola Museum Seni

2. Batik is the most widely used

Batik is one of the textiles that is world renowned and listed on UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Batik is also the most widely used, from farmers in rice paddy fields to ceremonies to royals, businessman, student and nation leaders. 

Ulos Shoulder Cloth / Selendang Ulos (1901/2000)Unit Pengelola Museum Seni

3. Textiles strengthen bonds in family and communities

Traditional textiles are seen as medium for strengthening family bonds, community identity, cultural exchanges and token of appreciation. 

Kain Koffo or Kain Hote (1850/1900)Unit Pengelola Museum Seni

4. Traditional textiles were made from all things natural

While industrial manufacture of textiles are thriving, hand-crafted and naturally dyed traditional textiles are living tradition and on-going practice in many communities throughout Indonesia. 

This cloth here are made of wild banana fiber and dyed with Indigo and Morinda.  

Selendang Prada (1901/2000)Unit Pengelola Museum Seni

5. Indonesian traditional textiles shares the love of gold

Often in ceremonial cloths, Indonesian traditional textiles are adorned with golden paper or threads. Here, the technique is called 'perada' or pronounced as 'prada', which is application of golden leaf or dust onto a batik cloth. 

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