The name “Indonesia” was coined in 1850 by the British anthropologist James Richardson Logan to designate the insular region between mainland Asia and Australia, which the Europeans considered as an extension of India because of the cultural influence they saw there 1 . The notion of “Indonesian nation” is probably not prior to the 1920s, when less indigenous political movements in what was then still the Dutch East Indies 2 .

It is therefore proposed to speak of Indonesian culture for what is happening and happening, not only in the context of the present Republic of Indonesia , but also from the 1920s, in connection with the rise of national consciousness in culturally diverse populations.

Indonesia has a diversity of regional cultures, for example Javanese culture . But these are traditional cultures in which only the groups concerned are recognized. Moreover, when these cultures express themselves in a regional language, they are simply inaccessible to other Indonesians.

Language (s)

  • Languages ​​in Indonesia
  • Category: Indonesia language
  • Category: Indonesian script


Religion (s)

  • Main article: Religion in Indonesia .
  • Category: Religion in Indonesia ,
  • Islam in Indonesia ,
  • Catholic Church in Indonesia
  • Exarchate of Indonesia , orthodoxy
  • History of Jews in Indonesia


  • Category: Indonesia Symbol
  • Coat of arms of Indonesia , Flag of Indonesia
  • Indonesia Raya , Indonesia’s national anthem




  • Category: Indonesian Legend
  • Category: Legendary Creature of Indonesia
  • Ibu Pertiwi  (en)


  • Public holidays in Indonesia  (en)


  • Indonesian names  (in) (patronymic)


  • Traditions in Indonesia  (en)
  • Tag in Indonesia  (en)


Main article: Indonesian literature .
  • Category: Indonesian writer
  • Indonesian philosophy  (en)

Contemporary literature


  • Category: Media in Indonesia


  • Category: Written press in Indonesia


  • Category: Radio in Indonesia


  • Category: Television in Indonesia


Visual Arts

  • Arts Indonesia  (en)
  • Arts in Bali  (en)
  • Indonesian artists
  • Indonesian contemporary artists



  • Indonesian painters
The painters Mochtar Apin and Henk Ngantung in the 1950s
  • Affandi is the best-known Indonesian painter abroad.
  • Antonio Blanco, of Spanish origin, spent most of his life in Ubud, where his house was turned into a museum dedicated to his work.

We can also mention the painter Salim , who lives in Paris.


  • Indonesian sculptors

Among the living Indonesian sculptors is Teguh Ostenrik, born in 1950. Teguh studied in West Berlin in the 1970s, when this part of the city was still an enclave in the territory of the former German Democratic Republic. He then lived and worked in Amsterdam before returning to Jakarta in 1988. A wide variety in the forms and techniques used, his work revolves around the themes of communication between men and their relationship with nature and the cosmos .


  • Indonesian architecture
  • Architecture in Indonesia (sections)
  • Rumah adat  (en) traditional house
  • Temples of Indonesia


  • Indonesian photographers


Performing Arts


  • Indonesian music
  • Indonesian music (rubrics)
  • Indonesian musicians
  • Indonesian songs  (en)
  • gamelan
  • Bangsawan  ( of Malay origin)

Dance (s)

  • Indonesian dance
  • Dance in Indonesia (sections)
  • Indonesian dancers
  • Indonesian dancers
  • Indonesian choreographers


  • Indonesian Theater

Under Soeharto , the theater was a privileged means of expression to criticize the regime and the tricks of Indonesian society in general, within the limits granted by the power. This form of expression belongs in fact to tradition, especially in the wayang orang , traditional Javanese theater that staged stories from the great Indian epic Mahabharata . In the wayang orang , there are characters, punakawan(which is usually translated as “clowns”), whose role is both to create a comic interlude in a rather serious show, and to provide an opportunity to translate a popular point of view and feeling that the traditional social order did not allow expressing. The novelty of some troops, the most popular of which is the “Teater Koma”, has been to translate this popular opinion in an autonomous and modern way.

But theatrical creation in Indonesia has other forms. It can possibly take advantage of tradition, especially Javanese and Balinese.

  • Ludruk , Kethoprak , Sandiwara , Lenong , Randai , Bangsawan ,

Other: puppets, mime, pantomime, prestidigidation

  • Wayang


Poster of Tengkorak Hidoep (1941)
  • Indonesian cinema
  • Indonesian directors ,
  • Indonesian players , Indonesian Actresses ,
  • Indonesian movies

It seems that some films were shot in Indonesia during the colonial era, but the attempt to bring together proved somewhat successful 3 .

Indonesian film production will only really start with independence. The 1950s are a time is conducive to creation. The armed conflict against the Netherlands has ended. Rebellions erupt in the archipelago, but they do not bring about real and lasting violence, except for the insurgency of Darul Islam which, from 1948 to 1962, will challenge the government army and proclaim to want to establish an Islamic State in Indonesia. More generally, Indonesia is shaken by numerous political crises, inside and outside. But artists can express themselves.

From this period, we will especially remember the name of Usmar Ismail (1921-1971), who also founded in 1950 the national production company Perfini, allowing the development of an independent Indonesian cinema. His films include: “Darah dan do’a” (translated as The Long March , 1950), “Lewat Jam Malam” ( Curfew , 1954), “Tamu Agung” ( The Guest of Honor , 1955 ) and “Tiga dara” ( Three girls , 1956). Many of his films are based on the period of conflict with the Netherlands (1945-48).

Director Garin Nugroho

In 1957, under the pressure of extremist nationalist factions, Indonesia expelled the Dutch, who still owned the big plantations, companies and banks, and nationalized their assets. In domestic politics, Soekarno launches the “controlled democracy”, much more directive than democratic. There is a period of political unrest where artistic creation is interspersed with the cleavage between those who, close to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), believes that “politics must be in control” and the others.

The repression that followed the so-called ” 30 September Movement ” led by left-wing officers in 1965 and between 500,000 and one million dead could not usher in a serene era for creation. In the 1960s and 1970s, directors Teguh Karya, whose films portray a colorful and charming portrait of an Indonesian society in the process of urbanization and modernization, with “Ibunda” (“Mother”) and “Secangkir Kopi” Pahit “(” A cup of bitter coffee “), and Eros Djarot, whose” Tjoet Nyak Dien “tells the story of the widow of a warlord who resumes the fight of her husband against the Dutch in Aceh at the end of the xix th century.

The 1980s are those of the beginning of the Indonesian economic boom but also of a soft violence that persuades Indonesians to be content to see their living conditions improve. The late 1990s is a time when creation is more courageous and imaginative. The resignation of Soeharto , in 1998, frees the spirits. Riri Riza with “Kuldesak” ( Cul-de-sac ), Garin Nugroho with “Daun di atas Bantal” ( A leaf on a pillow ), Nia Dinata with “Arisan! ( The tontine! ) And Rudi Sudjarwo with “Ada apa dengan cinta? ( What’s happening with Cinta? ) Come out of the shameful conformation shackles where the Soeharto regime had plunged the Indonesians.

GIE Riri Riza was nominated for the 2006 Academy Awards Best Foreign Film category ‘. Although he has not received a reward, he shows that Indonesian cinema is beginning to be recognized abroad. GIE is from the personal diary of Soe Hoek Gie, a well-known student activist from the time of Soeharto, whose death has still not been solved. GIE will open the gala night of the 1st London Indonesian Film Screening 2006.


Kitchen (s)

Nasi Goreng
Main article: Indonesian cuisine .
  • Category: Indonesian cuisine
  • Category: Indonesian Vegetarian Food , Ketoprak ,

Drink (s)


  • Category: Health in Indonesia , Social Protection

Physical activities

Sports, Martial Arts

  • Main article: Sport in Indonesia .
  • Category: Sport in Indonesia
  • Category: Indonesian Martial Art , Pencak-Silat , Kuntao , Fitimaen , Payuk , Sisemba , Cakalele , Kabasaran , Caci , Pandan Mager , Tarung Dejarat ,
  • Category: Indonesian Sports
  • Indonesia at the Olympics
  • Indonesia Paralympic Games , Paralympic Games ,
  • Commonwealth Games
  • Insulinde’s Fighting Arts


  • Indonesian handicraft

Textiles, leather, paper

  • Indonesian National Costume  (en)
  • Category: Indonesian Textile Art , Batik , Ikat , Poleng , Songket ,
  • Carpet (Indonesia)

Wood, metals

Pottery, ceramics, earthenware

Art glass

Jewelery, goldsmiths, jewelery



  • List of Museums and Cultural Institutions in Indonesia  (en)

World Heritage List

The World Heritage Program ( UNESCO , 1971) has included in its World Heritage List (at): World Heritage List in Indonesia .

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Program ( UNESCO , 2003) has included in its Representative List the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (at):

  • 2008: The wayang puppet theater 4 .
  • 2008: The Indonesian Kris 5 .
  • 2009: The Indonesian batik 6 .
  • 2009: Education and training in Indonesian batik cultural heritage for students of elementary, secondary, higher, professional and polytechnic schools in collaboration with the Batik Museum of Pekalongan 7 .
  • 2010: The Indonesian Angklung 8 .
  • 2011: The saman dance 9 .
  • 2012: The noken , multifunctional knotted or woven bag, crafts of the people of Papua.
  • 2015: Three kinds of traditional dance in Bali 10 .

Memory of the World International Register

The Memory of the World Program ( UNESCO , 1992) has included in its International Memory of the World Register (as at 15/01/2016):

  • 2003: Archives of the Dutch East India Company 11
  • 2011: The Galigo 12
  • 2013: Nagarakretagama or the Description of a Country (1365 AD) 13
  • 2013: The Babad of Diponegoro 14



  • Elsa Clave-Çelik, unusual Dictionary Indonesia , Cosmopole, Paris, 2012 ( th ed.), 159 p. ( ISBN  978-2-84630-072-8 )
  • In ) Jill Forshee, Culture and Customs of Indonesia , Greenwood, Westport, Conn., 2006, 264 p. ( ISBN  978-0313333392 )
  • Solenn Honorine, Indonesia: History, Society, Culture , Discovery, Paris, 2013, 222 p. ( ISBN  978-2-7071-7431-4 )

Related Articles

  • Cultural Heritage of Indonesia  (en)

External links

On other Wikimedia projects:

  • Indonesian culture , on Wikimedia Commons
  • Cultural information. Indonesia  [ archive ] (Center for Intercultural Learning, Canada)
  • Embassy of Indonesia in France  [ archive ] (official website)

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Ooi Keat Gin (ed.), Southeast Asia: a historical encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor , 2004
  2. ↑ RS Smith and Theodore M. Smith, “The Political Economy of Regional and Urban Revenue Policy in Indonesia”, Asian Survey , Vol. 11, o 8 (August 1971)
  3. ^ Site of the Netherlands Indies Film Archive  [ archive ]
  4. ↑  [ archive ]
  5. ↑  [ archive ]
  6. ↑  [ archive]
  7. ↑ -secondaries-higher-vocational-and-polytechnic-in-collaboration-with-the-museum-of-pekalongan-batik-00318 # identification  [ archive ]
  8. ↑  [ archive ]
  9. ↑  [ archive ]
  10. ↑  [ archive ]
  11. ↑ -page-1 / archives-of-the-dutch-east-india-company /  [ archive ]
  12. ↑ -page-5 / galigo /  [ archive ]
  13. ↑ -page-6 / nagarakretagama-or-description-of-the-country-1365-ad /  [ archive ]
  14. ↑ The Babad Diponegoro or the autobiographical chronicle of Prince Diponegoro (1785-1855). A Javanese noble, Indonesian national hero and panislamist