POST D: Traditional Dance Keeps the Indonesian Culture Alive

With the world’s rapid modernization, societies living in developing countries are losing their culture so fast to the western culture. Modernization is changing everything about these societies, even their deepest moral values and beliefs (Aspinall 2015). In Indonesia, for example, many people, especially those in urban areas have forgotten almost everything about their ancestral ways of life and taken up the western ways. This replacement has happened so quickly in the last one decade that some Indonesians have started being skeptical about it (Cowherd 2012). These people are asking: Didn’t we have anything good in our culture before modernization? The answer to this question is: Yes, we had, but it is being lost as well.

In efforts to save this good aspect of the Indonesian culture, some people have decided to engage in and encourage traditional dancing. In the video clip below, Alfira O’Suvillan says that she specializes in Indonesian traditional dancing in order to keep the Indonesian culture alive. Despite having grown in Australia, she likes the Indonesian culture and has devoted her efforts to see that it is saved from drowning.


Indonesian traditional dance (O’Sullivan 2014)


She feels that traditional Indonesian dancing is a good way of saving the Indonesian culture and therefore she has made it her career. According to O’Suvillan, this kind of dancing helps to revive traditional values and beliefs of the Indonesians and also to keep the Indonesian language alive. She is right because dancing is built upon the values and beliefs of a society from where it originates. For instance, there are some dance moves that an Indonesian audience would find appropriate when performed in stage while an Australian would find them offensive or vague. In the same way, there are some moves that Australians would find interesting, but the Indonesians would find them vague. Some traditional Indonesian dance moves and dance costumes also have cultural meaning to the Indonesians, but they do not mean anything to the westerners. For instance, traditional Indonesian dancing helps to save the cultural significance attached to the Batik art of of decorating and creating patterns. Batik is an art through which Indonesians use to decorate, and they mostly use it to decorate cloths. It involves applying wax on the surface of a material before coloring the material so that the waxed surfaces can be left with the original color of the material thus forming patterns of the original and the new color (Machtar 2016). Different patterns have different meaning to the Indonesians, which makes the art so important to them. With globalization, however, many Indonesians have turned to foreign decorations which is killing this art among the Indonesians. Traditional dancers, however, use clothes and materials decorated using this art, thus helping to save the art. For instance, in the video below the dancers have tied a linen around their waist which is decorated using this art. Such an act makes the Indonesians appreciate the art, therefore encouraging them to also shop for clothes decorated through this art.


Indonesians practicing the art of batik (Machtar 2016)

Dancing also helps to make the values of a society look good. Through dancing, people appreciate their culture and make it look like something good (Kaeppler 2000). In the same way, Indonesian traditional dance makes the Indonesian culture look good. It makes the Indonesians to love this culture and an to be bound to it. By doing this, the Indonesian traditional dancers help to show the Indonesian community that the western culture is not the only good culture.

Follow this link to watch the video:



Reference List

Aspinall, E. 2015, ‘The Surprising Democratic Behemoth: Indonesia in Comparative Asian Perspective’, The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 74, no. 4, pp. 889-902.

Cowherd, R. 2012, ‘Cultural Construction of Surakarta’, Cultural Construction, viewed 11 February 2017 <>

Kaeppler, A. L. 2000, ‘Dance ethnology and anthropology of dance’, Dance Research Journal, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 116-125.

Machtar, D. 2016, ‘Indonesian batik-A cultural beauty’, Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-60.

O’Sullivan, A. 2014, The dance nomad project – Suara Indonesia workshop at DBS, Motion Picture, Australia.



Post C: Primary Research

Interviewed one of the kampung kali code village mural painting stuff for free-smoking- Benk Riyadi, who is 37 years old come from surakarta, Indonesia.

He come to the Yogyakarta for 2 years, Kampung kali code village, to painting the mural.He joined one of the organization for anti-smoking, cultural organization- NGO.

He mentioned that is is hard to quit and to do anti-smoking in Yogyakarta.When we asked him when he bought the cigarettes, he said he bought from shop, factory or individual, kretek.(Indonesian cigarettes brand), Producing the cigarettes give the jobs for Indonesian people, which is good for Indonesia economic.

In Indonesia, he mentioned it is very normal to smoking everywhere, and parts from that, smoking could make people who lived in mountains body warm. For normal children, it is hard to anti-smoking for them because selling cigarettes could make money for them. And children starts to smoking when they are young to they grow up.

He mentioned before the Kampung kali code village starts the campaign, there is a big cigarettes product called “Sampoerna”. The village is used to be dirty before and the company donates the money to village cleaned up and for us to painting the Sampoerna the typical color to painting on the mural. They painting the blue and yellow on the roof, as the free advertising for the cigarette company. Apart from that there is a 3 months expire time for the company to do the painting as free advertising.

Benk Riyadi said he like the job of free painting on the village mural.In the political Indonesia, the people just use the one time for 5 years, the president will forget the promise for campaign.

They first say the anti-smoking campaign to the educated person. In Indonesia if you want to fight with other party, you should have your own party. Democratic seems important to the Indonesia policy apply.

He said if the person who worked in the Indonesia cigarette factory will be more paid than the other job in Indonesia, especially the big cigarette brands like: Sampoerna A, Dji Sam Soe, Kretek, U mild, Marlboro etc.

One of the reasons as to why Indonesia has the highest smoking rate in the world is because anti-smoking programs rarely work there. There are many government and non-government initiatives meant to curb smoking in this county, but the problem still persists. Therefore, the next time you plan an anti-smoking program for the Indonesian, make sure it is convincing enough because there are higher chances that it will not have effects.

The reasons for the constant failure of such programs is that it is hard for the Indonesians to stop smoking. Among the Indonesians, smoking is considered a fancy thing as the Americans consider drinking (Andrikus, 2014). Therefore, telling an Indonesian to stop smoking is like telling him/her that he/she should not have fun.

Unlike in other places of the world, it is very normal for an Indonesian of any age or sex to smoke anywhere. For this reason, an Indonesian can light a cigarette anywhere without considering whether here are non-smokers around. Indonesians who do not smoke also have no problem when people smoke around them since smoking is not a big deal. What is worse is that a child is also allowed to smoke without anyone asking him/her a question. Therefore, by the time the child grows older, he/she is too much addicted to turn back.


Image by (Brown, 2012)


The Indonesians also can’t stop smoking since tobacco and cigarettes are the greatest economic products in the country. In fact, the idea of smoking being fun was established in the country by large cigarette organizations through advertising and product promotion. For instance, the Sampoerna Cigarette company promoted this idea in Kampung Kali Code Village in Jarkarta by providing free wall and roof painting. The company took advantage of this opportunity by painting resident’s walls with the colors of its cigarette brand. So, whenever a person who benefited from this free painting looks at his wall, he/she remembers that it is Sampoerna that made it possible.


Image from (Baswedan, 2015)

Most Indonesians also rely on either tobacco or cigarette-related activities for income, which means that campaigning against smoking is like campaigning against people’s income. Therefore, the people of this country would not be interested in such campaigns since they make them poor.

What is worse is that children are also major retailers of cigarettes. A child is very vulnerable to using cigarettes if he/she is allowed to sell them. In essence, since a child has a lower capability of making decisions, he/she will be quickly lured into smoking by the curiosity he/she has about it.

In short, it is hard for Indonesians to stop smoking since it has become part of their lives, has become a source of their income, and because smoking does not mean much danger to them as many other societies may see it.


Referencing List

Andrikus, T. 2014, ‘Indonesia: What do most Indonesians think about smoking?’. viewed 11th February 2017, <;.

Baswedan, A. (2015, July 2). ‘Menyapa Jogjakarta Lewat Cerita Kampung Code’., Bukanrastaman, viewed 11th February 2017, <;.

Brown, M. (2012, June 20). ‘Child smokers prompt Indonesia legal case’. viewed 11th February 2017, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, <;.


POST B: Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Centre

Established in 2011, the Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Centre (MTCC) is an institution under the University of Muhammadiyah that works towards creating and increasing awareness and willingness of the people of Indonesia to organize themselves in efforts to reduce the impacts of smoking. The institution’s vision is to create a healthy and independent generation in Indonesia by reducing smoking and the impact of smoking. It does this by conducting research and sharing the research results with the Indonesians and other institutions that are similar to it, holding campaigns against smoking, supporting government policies and institutions that works against smoking, and spreading anti-smoking messages to the Indonesians through any possible means. As of now, the Institution has five full-time researchers based in five different locations, including:Yogyakarta, Purwokerto, Magelang, Surabaya, and Mataram. In all these locations, the Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Centre is involved in conducting research on smoking and tobacco, and running activities and holding campaigns directed towards mobilizing the Indonesians to think and act against smoking.


Designs and publications displayed during an anti-smoking seminar held by MTCC (Sarah, 2015)

Since its establishment in 2011, the institution’s only source of funds has been the University of Muhammadiyah, until in 2014 when it started receiving grants from the John Hopkins School of Public Health. These grants are primarily meant for supporting the MTCC’s research activities. With the help of these grants, MTCC has been able to expand research by providing more training to its staff and providing more tools and equipment that are used for the purpose of research. The institution has also been able to develop better communication methods that are used to reach out to the Indonesians concerning smoking.

As of now, the MTCC reaches out to the Indonesians through many means such as public campaigns and programs, social media posts, public lectures, media release, public shows, seminars, counseling sessions, publications, publicly displayed designs, among others. While using all of these means, MTCC utilizes design in order to pass various messages and warn about smoking.


A counselling session held by MTCC (Sugiyo, 2015)

In Indonesia, an anti-smoking initiative such as the Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Centre is necessary for the country has some of the extreme cases of smoking. For instance, a government survey conducted in 2012 indicated that around 36% of Indonesian citizens aged above 15 years smoke an average of 12 cigarettes a day (Berry, 2014). This is a very high percentage as compared to other countries such as Afghanistan whose overall percentage in the same year did not even reached 10% (Marie, et al., 2014).

Reference List

Berry, A., 2014. Indonesia pushes for graphic health warnings on cigarette packs. viewed 11th February 2017, <;.

Marie, N. J., Freeman, M. K. & Fleming, T. D., 2014. Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries, 1980-2012. The JAMA Network, 311(2), pp. 183-192.

Sarah, S. 2015. ikut konferensi Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Center (MTCC). viewed 11th February 2017, <;.

Sugiyo, D. 2015. MTCC-DINKES KAB.BANTUL Mengadakan Training Konselor Berhenti Merokok. viewed 11th February 2017, <;.

Post D: As Beautiful As It Is Deadly- Indonesia’s Pencak Silat


by Marcella Cheng

The contemporary health and fitness craze of these recent years has seen a resurge of interest in martial arts in hopes of relearning the ancient ways of reconnecting with one’s body. While gym-goers might be more familiar with the more sport-heavy Muay Thai, few know of the beautiful but deadly martial art whose home is rooted deep within Indonesia’s history; Pencak Silat.

Being a practitioner of Taekwondo and Karate myself, I took a strong interest in researching the more secretive martial art that originated from my birth country, Indonesia. Like many ancient practices, Pencak Silat’s true historic origin appears to be an elusive mystery, though most have recorded its origin from the study of animal movements. Interestingly, many legends have attributed women as the originators of the art, such as in West Java “whose Cimande style is said to derive from a woman emulating the movements of a tiger fighting with a monkey” (Clarke 2010). Indeed, unlike most Muslim countries, women are encouraged to practice martial arts in Indonesia (Fight Quest, 2005).

(All illustrations by Marcella Cheng)

Perhaps the most defining traits of Pencak Silat that set it apart from other martial arts, is how it uses “a beauty of action, fluidity, and quickness” in a “dancelike rhythm” (Draeger 1972), that stands in sharp contrast to its deadly movements. One of the hosts of the Discovery Channel TV show “Fight Quest”, emphasised the difference in the hand movements in particular to modern day arts; While most arts keep arms tucked in close to the body to protect it, Pencak Silat boasts elaborate and intricate twisting of hands and arms to distract the opponent. Watching these “dances” myself, I am heavily reminded of a snake charmer lulling its prey in preparation to strike.

Another curious aspect of Pencak Silat is how its practice has been shaped by its history. Pencak Silat itself is an umbrella term (much like the word Kung Fu) to encase a variety of styles and variations of the art. Maryono gives thorough examples on how it is practiced in different areas: as a sport and recreation for the Sundanese, and in West Sumatra as a public dance form and self-defence for their travelling youth. Interestingly, the more deadly and military aspects of Pencak Silat seem to have flourished during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, in which the art was either suppressed in many areas, or mixed and encouraged with Japanese martial arts such as Judo, Jujitsu and Kendo. Later during the Dutch occupation of Indonesia, Pencak Silat evolved yet again to a more brutal, guerilla style warfare that proved far more deadly in the terrain compared to clumsy firearms of the enemy. These aspects of Indonesian history have shaped Pencak Silat into the mesmerising martial art it is today.


All illustrations by me (Marcella Cheng)

Pencak Silat, 2008, television program, Fight Quest, Discovery Channel, USA, 28 January.

Clarke, D. 2010, “What is Pencak Silat”, viewed 28 Jan 2017,
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Draeger, D. 1972 “The Weapons and Fighting Arts of Indonesia”; Charles E. Tuttle Company Japan, p.33.

Maryono, O. 1999, “Pencak Silat in the Indonesian Archipelago”, Rapid Journal Vol 4 No.2, << >>

Maryono, O. 2002, “The Militarisation of Pencak Silat during the Japanese Occupation and the Era of Revolution”, Rapid Journal Vol 6, No.
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