POST D : Left Hand Taboo

In Indonesia, to use your left hand, whether it be to give or receive something from someone, is considered rude and insulting. This etiquette comes from the Islamic religion so this sort of etiquette is not exclusive to Indonesians, but since Indonesia is a Muslim country, this makes it part of their culture.

Particularly the western society would find this strange, since if both hands are functional and to not use and discriminate the other hand would sound a bit absurd. In actuality, there is a logical reasoning behind this unusuality.

[Novroz 2013]
In most of Indonesia, the toilets are slightly different than what most of us are used to. ‘Squat Toilet’ features a large water bowl and a gayung (plastic scoop) which is used to scoop out water for flushing or cleaning after yourself. This means that the person would have to use their left hand to wipe themselves (after doing the deed), since their other hand would be occupied with the gayung. This, basically is the main reason as to why giving out your left hand is insulting, since it’s considered filthy and obscene.

[RubyWhatever n.d]
Another option of toilet in Indonesia, would feature the usual toilet we’re familiar with, with an additional water spray and no toilet paper. This was before when tissues were still considered as unnecessary, but now they are available at most places. With the tissues being introduced to society, the left-hand taboo would be invalid, yet it still remains due to the fact that it has been embedded in our minds from when we were young. Therefore this etiquette have become a tradition in the Indonesian society.

I have noticed most of the time when a person has no choice but to use their left hand, they would say “maaf” (sorry), otherwise the person would be labelled as ill-mannered. This rule would still apply for left-handed people, since the water sprays are consistently installed on the right side, hence their left hand would be the one doing the dirty work as that would be most convenient for the user.

To put it concisely, to give with right hand appears more sincere, and to receive something with right hand would appear more appreciative. However it all comes down to the person’s mindset, whether this is significant enough for the person or not.

Farooq, A. n.d, Donating Hand, AlQuranClasses, viewed 16 February 2017, <;.

RubyWhatever, n.d, Indonesian Toilet, Flickr, viewed 16 February 2017, <;.

Novroz, 2013, Indonesia Banget #29 : The Toilets and the Water, wordpress, viewed 16 February 2017, <;.

POST C : Tattoos + Women + Indonesia

On Monday, 13 February 2017, I had a tattoo appointment at Kuro Tattoo Studio located in Jakarta. Upon arrival, I was then greeted by the receptionist whom left me intrigued at first sight as she was fully covered in tattoos.

I had been to many tattoo parlors in Indonesia, and not once had I seen a fully tattooed woman at any of those places, therefore it was quite a rare sight for me. I was interested to know her point-of-view and experiences as a fully tatted female living in Indonesia, so I had to ask for an interview.

Indonesia is considered as a quite conservative country, so I was curious as to how the public reacts to tattoos. This left me wondering if it is the same as Japan, where tattoos are still linked to gangster/ yakuza/ criminal/ drug/ etc, therefore feared upon.

Kak (older person) Vina, is a 28 year old Indonesian woman from Cianjur, a small town in the West Java province of Indonesia. She got her first tattoo at 18 right after high school. When asked why she decided to get her first tattoo, she said that she was curious and fascinated and her first one got her addicted. Although she has had her whole body covered, areas above the neck are still considered off limits, for the reason that she regularly visits her family where the residents are still unfamiliar with the idea of tattoos as art, rather still linked to gangs and drugs.

There are definitely advantages and disadvantages of being a fully tattooed female in Indonesia. When travelling out in public, Kak Vina sometimes get stared at and whispered on whenever her tattoos are visible. There were moments when people would scream out “Astaghfirullahaladzim!!”, as if she was a monster the moment they laid eyes on her, but it never affects her clothing decision.

[Vina 2017]
One of the best things that were not possible without her tattoos, she said, are the endorsement opportunities she receives from various types of companies. Although that kind of exposure has a negative side effect. She explained that there are often a lot of men who are “modus” * (Indonesian Slang), who would ask her out on dates.

Even though tattoos are still not entirely accepted in Indonesia, she explained, it is now becoming more and more socially acceptable as people start to view them as art. The exact year of the sudden change, Kak Vina estimated, to be around 2014 – 2015, cause is unclear, yet from my personal point-of-view, the western culture has definitely influenced quite a lot of Indonesia’s tattoo culture, particularly in big cities like Jakarta.

* MODUS : is an Indonesian slang word which mean you are making an excuse to do something but actually your purpose is another thing. [Handiramy 2014]

Handiramy. 2014, Signs You Are Despo, handiramy’s blog, weblog, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

kurotat2. 2017, Natasha and Vina, Kuro Tattoo Studio, Jakarta.

Vina. 2017, @fienaaraditya, Instagram, Jakarta, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

POST B : Litre Of Light

As is commonly known worldwide, there are two types of lighting, natural and artificial. Natural lighting  is sourced from the sun therefore is free compared to artificial lighting, which is sourced from fossil fuel such as natural gas and coal used to generate energy and is only attainable with money, which is grim for underprivileged households. And as the years go by, the world is becoming overpopulated resulting in a lack of space, hence living in a packed area where there are little to no windows and sufficient daylight. Especially in tropical countries where the houses are made darker and roofs are extended to avoid the sun and rain resulting a very dark room/shack.

To solve this problem, Alfredo Moser, a Brazilian inventor, created a cheap and sustainable decent lighting designed for the underprivileged. All it needs is a two litre plastic bottle, filled with purified water and bleach (to keep the water clean), which is measured to be around 40 to 600 watts. Then installed onto the roof of the houses, fixed with polyester resin to avoid leaks. It’s a simple refraction of sunlight, explained Moser. [Gibby Zoel 2013]

[Yoneda 2016]]

With the help of Diaz Illam, a social entrepreneur, they started a global movement called “Litre of Light” which is a not-for-profit organization and is funded by donations and sponsors such as Pepsi, Underground Logic and Orange Fix. Their end goal is to educate the community on how to manufacture and install the solar bottle bulb, in hopes to create new job opportunities for the community.

[Directo n.d]

This would be substantial for the kampung Kali Code as the location is able to absorb more than enough light to illuminate the homes of the Kali Code community.

Global warming is such a broad topic relating to many world wide issues. But one of the leading cause is the excessive use of electricity. This project was created for the people who are struggling to afford decent lighting for their homes (not to mention how this would be ideal for situations such as blackouts), but if this is applied globally at all households, although very unlikely to happen, imagine how much money and energy we could save altogether.


“It’s a divine light. God gave the sun to everyone, and light is for everyone. Whoever wants it saves money. You can’t get an electric shock from it, and it doesn’t cost a penny.” – MOSER.

Yoneda, Y. 2012, Litre of light, Inhabitat, viewed 15 Febuary 2017, <;.

Directo, J. n.d, Illac Diaz inspects a solar light bulb, Getty Images, viewed 15 Febuary 2017,<;.

Gibby Zoel 2013, Alfredo Moser:Bottle light inventor proud to be poor, BBC, Brazil, viewed 14th Febuary 2017, <;.

POST A : Kemeja Kotak-Kotak (Plaid Shirt)

A plaid shirt is a very basic and popular style of clothing worn and owned by many worldwide. But in Indonesia, a plaid shirt (particularly in red and black) symbolizes something of which the citizens are very much aware of. In 2012 Jokowi and Ahok were governor candidates running a political campaign for the upcoming election. And every time they were seen in public, both Jokowi and Ahok were always wearing the same red plaid shirt. This quickly became their identity and plaid shirt became a trend to wear, especially for Ahok and Jokowi supporters.

On October 2014, Jokowi took a temporary leave as Ahok’s partner to serve as the president, whom then was inaugurated by the President Jokowi himself as the governor on November 2014. Fast forward to September 2016, it was declared that Ahok had paired up with Djarot for the next upcoming election in 2017 [Ahok-Djarot 2016]. And up until now, still wearing the plaid shirt as their party’s identity.

The principle aspect of their decision to continue the plaid as their identity is said [Natasya 2016] to preserve and prolong what Jokowi and Ahok started back in 2012 as well as to follow in the footsteps of the previous great governors of Indonesia.

At the time, it was not addressed as to why both Ahok’s party were constantly seen in the red plaid shirt, which raised the citizen’s curiosity. It was later found that there is a simple and  philosophical reason behind this persistent attire.

Djarot and Ahok’s spokeswoman Nevi Ervina stated that the idea came from Ahok, as he believed that the plaid shirt is identical to hard workers. He also stated that there is a difference between the plaid shirt in 2012 and the one in 2017. [Liputan6 2016]

“Jokowi’s shirt had a smaller and more colorful squares, whereas Ahok’s current plaid shirt has larger squares.”, Nevi stated.

She also explained that the color red symbolizes leadership, black representing the community and the willingness to get down and dirty.

Following up to Ahok’s reasoning of the plaid pattern, in line with the history of it [Jill Specter 2013], the criss-crossed pattern was indeed worn mainly for service and labor-oriented workers back in the 1960’s. It was then that lumberjacks became synonymous to red plaid shirts.


Using fashion to convey a political message which represents its identity is indeed a unique form of design in a local context.

Ahok-Djarot 2016, Liputan6, viewed 13t Feb 2017, <>. 

Creative, B, n.d, The Brawny Man in His Red Plaid ShirtBlasco Creative, viewed 13 Feb 2017, <>. 

Jill Specter 2013, A History Of Plaid, Aesthetic Crit, viewed 13 Feb 2017, <>. 

Liputan6 2016, Apa Bedanya Baju Kotak-Kotak Milik Ahok dan Jokowi, Liputan6, Indonesia, viewed 13 Feb 2017, <>. 

Natasya, C. 2016, ‘Ahok-Djarot Kenapa Kemeja Kotak – Kotak?’, RepublikHotNews, weblog, Indonesia, viewed 13 Feb 2017, <>. 

PosKotaNews 2012, Baju Kotak-Kotak Jokowi Ahok, viewed 13 Feb 2017, <;.

Shop, T n.d, Kain Kemeja Kotak Ahok Tenun, Tokopedia, viewed 13 Feb 2017, <;.