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. 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.
Today we can see highly developed art forms wherever these artisans had patrons in centuries past. One of the places where this is perhaps most evident is in Yogyakarta where the Sultan’s family has supported batik, silver, wayang and other artisans for generations. With this patronage the art forms flourished, resulting in a rich variety of art forms today.
Beautiful Dutch colonial and other antique furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries is popular with expats, Wooden Carved rocking chairincluding Balinese opium beds, rice storage units, old cupboards, Javanese carved wall panels, doors and unique tables. These pieces may need restoration or may have already be refinished or reconditioned by the shops.
Many shops cater to the expats love of antiques and sell authentic antiques or reproductions. Widely available too are new designs of furniture, utilizing old wood. The advantage of old wood is that it is less likely to split when you bring it back to a dry climate, as the wood has been seasoned for decades. Much ‘antique’ furniture available is actually new furniture that has been left in the sun and rain for months to . age. the furniture. Be careful to purchase from a trustworthy dealer if you want to be sure you are getting authentic antiques.
The rich artistic traditions of Cirebon, where traditionally each person must develop skills in a particular art form – be it dance, music, or visual arts has lead to the creation of a vibrant artistic community. Foreign artists have been drawn to Cirebon for centuries due to this unique cultural synergy.
Handicrafts also developed from the usage of every day household items which were decorated and used for ceremonial purposes. Witness the wide variety of uses of natural woods, fibers, bamboo, rattan and grasses. Natural and chemical dyes, beads and other natural ornamentation are used to decorate these items, many of which have developed over time into distinctive art forms.