Post D: Indonesian Art Practices and their Geographical Context

How does Indonesian art practices change according to the geographical context of the artisan.

Indonesian art practices stem from similar ideologies and cultural complexities, however when examining these practice in relation to different geographical contexts, variations occurred. Art practices within the local area of Banjarmasin, focused heavily on cultural events and activities and utilised art in order to express and explore these. This is evident through the large amount of motorboats are decorated for the Tanglong Jukung Competitors. The highly decorative embellishments bring a cultural significance to the event, as they create a sense of wonder within the Banjarmasin neighbourhood. Colour symbolism is used as the boats contain ornamental lights that reflect the Tanlong dipanjali colours. The practice of creating specific culturally aware art is also explored through the practice of Sasirangan, which is a traditional fabric colouring art form, that results in range of unique and abstract patterns. The colourful and vibrant designs that are created are reflective of Banjarmasin culture. With advances in textiles technologies, the designs are now produced on advanced textiles with over 30 patterns. These are sold within the Banjarmasin regions, however are also sold externally. There are a range of motifs that are created on the designs, that emphasise their cultural significance and help communicate to the people that aren’t familiar with their culture.

This illustration is a visually representation of Indonesian art practices. Each row embodies a different geographical area e.g. international, national, Regional and Local art practices.

Cultural art practices in the region of Kalimantan begin to be more focused on a tourism based mind set, as their creation are often what makes people travel there. The relationship between tourism and art production in Kalimantan relies on the continual developments of both aspects of the culture. By creating art or souvenirs that reflect key aspects of Indonesian culture, often with a spiritual meaning, tourist are able to take a piece of culture home with them. However, these are often very inexpensive for these tourist, which creates an uneven exchange for the handcrafted wood carvings, masks or clothing. When tourist coming to Kalimantan have respect for the art practices of the locals, their creations can be better valued. This means that the relationship and economics within the cultural exchange can be strengthened.

On a holistic level art in Indonesia is known for its diversity, due to the different regions and ethics within the national that shape the visual styles that each artisan creates. This is evident in the stone sculptures that capture the Hindu believes in Java. The same can be said for villages in Java that create ceramic with reference to the Majapahit kingdom. This results in Indonesia being a country that embodies the cultural diversities within the vast archipelago. Religion has a strong influence on Indonesian art, approximately 82% of the Indonesian population is Islamic, which means that a vast majority of traditional art practices are created with spiritual intend. This is represented through Islamic- style geometric forms and Arabic calligraphy. This enables people to reflect upon Indonesian art with interested and investments, as they values its cultural significance.

Artisans are now practiced all across the world and and combine their traditional culture and understandings with key influences of their current surroundings. In 2017 a number of Indonesian artists such as Putu Edy Asmara and Erizal AS. participated in the Beijing International Art Biennale, where they got to communicate their art practice with those that might be unfamiliar with Indonesian culture and express how geographical context shapes an individual’s art practice.

This map shows the relationship between Indonesian art practices with geographical context. The key communicates the diverse art practices within these areas.

Reference List:

Taylor, P.M. 1994, Fragile Traditions: Indonesian Art In Jeopardy, University of Hawaii Pr, Hawaii.

Clark, J. 2010, Modern And Contemporary Asian Art, Department of Art History & Film Studies, R.C. Mills A26, University of Sydney, Sydney.

Patt, J.A. 1979, ‘The Use And Symbolism Of Water In Ancient Indonesian Art And Architecture’ Science Index, 0729 – Architecture, viewed 4 December 2017, <;

Setianingsih, P., ‘The Voice of Muted People in modern Indonesian Art’ Modern Indonesian Art Pre 1996, Thesis, viewed December 4 2017 <>

Indonesian Arts and Crafts 2017, Arts and HandiCrafts, Viewed 4 December 2017, <>

Facts and Details 2017, Indonesian Art, Arts, Culture, Media, Sports, viewed December 4 2017, <;

POST D: Trade on Water

Considered as one of the greatest archipelagoes, the Indonesian landscape of forest and sea drew archipelago communities into the orbits of land-based civilisations. Special land and sea products (resins, fragrant barks from trees, pearls, etc.) make the archipelago important to foreigners, attracted them to its water lanes and jungle paths, and brought in new knowledge. Living more on sea than on land, archipelago sailors put products into ‘water-borne chains of exchange’ (Taylor 2003). Some of these products ended up in distant societies with different sets of cultural requirements and different inheritances of knowledge. When objects circulating in trade networks reflected the growing manufacturing capacity of Asian civilisations, they triggered a corresponding development in some archipelago communities on the coasts of Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Java. These communities grew into ports which specialised in collecting products from their immediate hinterland, from their neighbours, and from places that could be reached across the water.

Floating Market in South Borneo, Indonesia

In South Kalimantan, there are hundreds of rivers became an important transportation route to the present. The capital of South Kalimantan, Banjarmasin, is located near the junction of the Barito and Martapura rivers. Known as ‘River City’, Banjarmasin is a few inches feet below sea level and laced with flood-prone waterways, and many houses are built on rafts or stilts over the water. The city split by the river Martapura provides its own characteristics on the lives of its people, especially the use of rivers for water transportation, trade and tourism. Floating Market Kuin Estuary is a traditional floating market on the river at the mouth of the river Barito Kuin, Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan. The market is not only the reflection of the culture that has taken place long ago, but it also shows respects for the unique traditional trading wisdom of Banjarmasin Banjar.

Floating market is one of the cultural heritages in selling goods among community along rivers ecosystems which are recently grown as tourism attraction. (Normaleni 2015) Linking floating market and tourism offers opportunities for local economic development. The local style of floating market opens early in the morning and only lasts for 3 hours. The specialty of this market increases the tourism as well as remains the traditional barter transactions between local merchants. Women traders of boating sell their own production, while the second-hand purchase from the hamlet called panyambangan for resale.The Floating Market is inseparable from the formation of Banjarmasin and its surroundings as ‘Leading Tourism Icons’. (Rahmini, Pudjihardjo, Hoetoro & Manzilati 2015)



Floating Market, Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan



Maududdin, F. Lok Baintan Floating Market in South Borneo, Indonesia, viewed 07 Dec 2017,

Normaleni, E. 2015, Tourist profiles and perception as a basic planning for sustainable tourism development Lok Baitan Floating Market, South Kalimantan, Journal of Environmental Science, Toxicology and Food Technology, pp. 11-16, viewed 07 Dec 2017,

Rahmini, N., Pudjihardjo, M., Hoetoro, A. & Manzilati, A. 2015, The Role of Bonding, Bridging and Linking at Traditional Markets in Indonesia: A Study at Lok Baintan Floating Market Banjar Regency South Kalimantan, Journal of Applied Economics and Business, viewed 07 Dec 2017,

Taylor, J.G., 2003,  Indonesia : Peoples and Histories, Yale University Press, ProQuest Ebook Central, viewed 07 Dec 2017,

Post D: The Lanting House

By Catherine Nguyen


Lanting houses in Banjarmasin (Bromo, P. 2013)

I’ve travelled to quite a few places throughout my lifetime thus far, however none have come close to the sound of Indonesia. Spread across thousands of islands consist of hundreds of cities, and despite that these neighbourhoods share the same umbrella name, they all have different needs, lifestyles and identities. When combined, they form the culturally rich, beautiful and lively country that is Indonesia.

Whilst the phenomenon of globalisation has proved us certain advantages especially in terms of travel, for places like Indonesia where their identities are defined heavily upon culture, it becomes a battle between modernisation and protecting celebrated traditions.

Banjarmasin, located south of Kalimantan, Indonesia, is a self proclaimed ‘City Of A Thousand Rivers’. The name is well earnt, considering the city has been developed on a delta with a total of 107 rivers, creeks and canals (Kusliansjah et al. 2016). Boasting also a ‘unique architectural heritage, natural splendour and colourful floating markets’ (Chandra, S. 2016), I was intrigued to learn about its historical development as well as the lifestyle of this Banjarnese community that I was envious of.

mapping indonesia

Mapping Indonesia (Nguyen, C. 2017)

To my (un)surprise however, countless articles surfaced to address this physical, economic and environmental transformation the city was currently undergoing, due to the increasingly urbanised and globalised culture (Lamarca, M. 2012). From a city that proudly flaunted their homes which were structurally designed  to be harmonious with nature, they are now facing an identity crisis as they move from the waters onto land.


Presence of lanting houses in present Banjarmasin (Nguyen, C. 2017)

Of the 11 types of homes traditionally known in Banjarmasin, the Lanting house is the only one to be constructed on water. Once an ‘expression of Banjarnese culture’ (Dahliani et al. 2015) and definitive of the city’s way of life, it now ceases to exist- instead replaced with the growing preference for urban architecture as influenced by global trends. Historially built along the riverbanks of Matarpura, Kuin and Alalak they were used as both floating homes and stores- a fundamental aspect to the Banjarnese lifestyle (Kusliansjah et al. 2016). Progressively, with road developments and a growth in land-based settlements, its presence begun to cease. As of 2015, it was recorded that there were only 10 lanting houses left (Dahliani et al. 2015).

Contrastingly to land-based cities where the identities of their urban architecture and local culture are much more definitive and stabilised, tidal waterfront cities such as Banjarmasin are continuously facing uncertainty regarding their infrastructure, and constantly fear the loss of their identity and image as the tidal city.

The traditional lifestyle has not been entirely disregarded yet; there are still river markets floating around Banjarmasin and kelotoks* available for transportation- just targeted towards the tourists more than the locals. But how long will it be until everything becomes complete history?

(Basymeleh, I. 2008, Traditional floating market at the river in Banjarmasin)


*Kelotok = Indonesian wooden boats


Basymeleh, I. 2008, Traditional floating market at the river in Banjarmasin, photograph, Flickr, viewed December 2 2017, <>.

Bromo, P. 2013, ‘NEGERI DI ATAS AIR’, Have A Cup Of Tea!, weblog, viewed December 2 2017, <>.

Chandra, S. 2016, Banjarmasin, Garuda Indonesia Colours, viewed December 1 2017, <>.

Dahliani, Muhammad F. & Hayati A. 2015, ‘Changes of architecture expressions on Lanting House based on activity system on the river’, History Research, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-8.

Kusliansjah, K., Siahaan, U. & Tobing, R. 2016, ‘Reinterpretation of Architectural Identity in a Tidal Waterfront City’, International Journal of Architecture and Urban Development, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 33-40.

Lamarca, M. 2012, Participatory Waterfront Design in Banjarmasin, polis, viewed December 1 2017, <>.

Michiani, M. & Asano, J. 2017, ‘A Study on the Historical Transformation of Physical Feature and Room Layout of Banjarese House in the Context of Preservation’, Urban and Regional Planning Review, vol. 4, pp. 71-89.

Post D: How Mass Tourism Effects the Traditional Culture of Indonesia

indonesian culture
Traditional Dances of Indonesia (Adi, 2017)  

Indonesia is located in South East Asia, sharing land borders with Malaysia, Timor-Leste and Papa New Guinea and has a current population of 261.1 million (, 2017). The islands of Indonesia offer a variety of religious and cultural traditions, each specific to the area and dependent upon the people who inhabit them. Religion is a dominant aspect of Indonesian culture, the population holding faith in the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism and Islam (Indonesia, 1993).  

So how has the high level of tourism within Indonesia effected these religions and their traditions? 

Indonesia has recognised the potential role of tourism as a catalyst for economic development and ultimately, improved living standards for communities in many regions (Faulkner, 1998), therefore foreign tourism is now an integral part of the Indonesian economy (Sugiyarto, Blake and Sinclair, 2003). Although tourism is heavily dependent on cultural sites and temples across the country, this has gradually interrupted the raw and spiritual culture of certain areas of Indonesia, especially when traditions are disregarded. Similar to many across the world, some communities are now beginning deliberately to exploit their multicultural nature for tourism (Burgers, 1992).  


This is particularly evident in Indonesia’s leading tourist destination Bali. Bali really became a touristic destination in the 1970s (Suardana, 2015) and throughout the years has developed into a highly dense hub of tourism, overflowing with accommodation locations and commercial consumption due to its affordable pricing.  Ida Wijaya, president of the Bali tourist information office stated that ‘Tourism is a reality that is linked to the attractiveness of our culture: if mass tourism evolves in a way that threatens this culture, our specificity will disappear’ (Wijaya, 2015). This is a problem that Indonesia may face in the future if tourism continues to expand at such a rapid rate and there may need to be changes made to the footprint tourist are making on sacred cultural sites and to the communities themselves.        

This is a difficult topic to explore because tourists travel to consume difference, to see how other societies live (Richards and Hall, 2003) and without this exposure to culture, tourism may fade. Although tourism has had negative implications on Indonesian culture, it’s influence on the economy is the main reason the standard of living is continuously developing and increasing. Tourism and tourist arts are entwined with cultural identity and with the crafting of new sensibilities about a local community’s place in the world (Adams, 2006). We must simply remember that it isn’t our culture to interrupt and respect for Indonesia and its religious traditions is always expected.    Artboard 1References:  

Image: Adi, Y. (2017). Top 7 Traditional Dances of Indonesia (#5 is Popular) – Facts of Indonesia. [online] Facts of Indonesia. Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017]. 

Protschky, S. (2014). Images of the Tropics : Environment and Visual Culture in Colonial Indonesia. BRILL. (2017). Location of Indonesia – Indonesia Geographic Location – Location Map of Indonesia – Where is Indonesia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017]. 

Adams, K. (2006). Art as politics. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.   

Faulkner, B. (1998). Tourism development options in Indonesia and the case of argo– tourism in central Java. London Routledge, pp.202-221. 

Sugiyarto, G., Blake, A. and Sinclair, M. (2003). Tourism and Globalisation: Economic Impact in Indonesia. Annals of Tourism Research, 30(3), pp.683-701. 

Indonesia. (1993). Petaluma, Calif.: World Trade Press, pp.13. 

Adams, K. (Art As Politics : Re-Crafting Identities, Tourism, and Power in Tana Toraja, Indonesia, University of Hawaii Press, 2006. ProQuest Ebook Central 

Richards, G. and Hall, D. (2003). Tourism and Sustainable Community Development (Routledge advances in tourism ; 7). Taylor & Francis Group / Books. 

Phillip, B. (2015). How mass tourism is destroying Bali and its culture. World Crunch. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].