Indonesia

The Republic of Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. It is an archipelago comprising of approximately 17, 508 islands. One of its islands, Bali, is one of the most popular holiday islands in the world and boasts a compelling mix of attractions. Stylish beach resorts rub shoulders with historic Hindu temples, towering volcanoes and undulating rice terraces. The island is a visual treat for lovers of exotic culture and also knows how to have fun. There is literally something for every interest. Bali is located just south of the Equator sandwiched between the islands of Java and Lombok in central Indonesia. It is a relatively small island measuring just 90 miles wide and 50 miles from north to south. Bali’s four million strong population is the only Hindu society in Southeast Asia. It combines a unique blend of mainstream Hinduism, Buddhism and ancient animist beliefs and very different in practice from Hinduism on the Indian sub-continent.

Population: 237,424,363
Capital: Jakarta
Official Language: Indonesian
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
Type of Government: (Indonesia) Constitutional republic, Unitary state, Multi-party system, Presidential system

  • Indonesia is a Muslim country, but the main religion in Bali is Hinduism and it is considered one of the largest outpost of Hindus outside of India. Bali is also known as The Island of the Gods.
  • Indonesia stretches 5,120 kilometers from east to west. Because of this, the country covers three time zones.
  • Indonesia was a regional superpower before it was colonized by the Dutch. The Sri Vijaya and Majapahit Empires span the entire Indonesian archipelago and included the present-day Malaysia and even the southern islands of the Philippines.
  • Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, was known as Batavia during the Dutch colonial period.
  • The Mount Tambora eruption of 1815 on the island of Sumbawa is the largest observed volcanic eruption in recorded history.
  • The Balinese usually have one of the following four names: Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut. They simply mean First born, Second born, Third born and Fourth born and it doesn’t matter if its a boy or a girl.
  • In Bali, the Dutch used the pretext of eradicating opium smuggling, arms running, plunder of shipwrecks, and slavery to impose their control on Balinese kingdoms.
  • Bali is home to the world’s most expensive coffee. Kopi Luwak is made from coffee beans which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet and then passed through its digestive system. A cup of Kopi Luwak coffee can cost as much as US$100 in cafes in North America and Europe.
  • In addition to tourism Bali’s major industry is rice cultivation. The fertile south and central plains are filled with lush rice terraces and offer some of the most spectacular rural scenery in Indonesia.
  • Bali is home to six volcanoes and lies on two tectonic plates.
  • Gunung Agung, an active volcano that stands at 10,000 feet above sea level, is believed to be the dwelling place of the Hindu gods.
  • Rituals, tradition and culture play in integral part of Balinese life. Most of Bali follow a 12-month lunar calender and a 210 day ritual cycle, called the pawukon cycle calender.
  • Bali's growing list of seemingly intractable problems: water shortages, rolling blackouts, uncollected trash, overflowing sewage-treatment plants and traffic so bad that parts of the island resemble Indonesia's gridlocked capital Jakarta.
  • Many young Indonesians are illegally married off at 11 or 12 years old. Often this results in them being forced into prostitution on Bali's streets.

Stone carving
Stone carvings were mainly used to decorate temples and palaces and the carvers had much more leeway in their use of subject matter than the artists and illustrators. There is little difference between the iconography decorating temples and that of private buildings. Gateways represent the dividing line between the inner and outer worlds. As well as portraying deities and demons, the carvers included many scenes from public life and there are many temple surfaces enriched with the antics of the Dutch colonists, including scenes of bicycles, drunken parties, car breakdowns and even airplanes.

Painting
The place synonymous with the traditional form of Balinese painting, is the village of Kamasan, near Klungkung. Up until the beginning of this century, and under service of the king of Gelgel and Klungkung, it was only natural that the painters and illustrators, called "Sangging", should settle in this one area. As it was not uncommon for ruling families from other parts of Bali to acquire the use of a Sangging to decorate their own palaces or temples, the Kamasan style of painting quickly spread throughout the whole of Bali.

Wood carving
Wood carving, like stone carving, has traditionally featured largely in the temples and palaces on Bali, with little free standing 'sculpture' work produced commercially. Immaculately carved "demons" and "mythical beings" decorate pillars, door panels, lintels and window shutters with the aim of protecting the building/s from evil intruders. With the arrival of European influences, wood carving started to develop along more innovative and commercial lines.

Textiles
One of the most striking things about Bali is the rich variety of cloths and materials that are to be found in the thousands of shops across the island. Batik, a wax and dye technique artform, is thought to originate from the Javanese word 'tritik' which describes a resist process for dying where the patterns are reserved on the textiles by tying and sewing areas prior to dying, similar to tie dye techniques. Another Javanese phase for the mystical experience of making batik is “mbatik manah” which means “drawing a batik design on the heart”.Ikat cloth is an essential part of the traditional Balinese costume. The ikat technique was brought to Indonesia many centuries ago by traders. It has since developed into a high art in Bali and continues to challenge its dyers and weavers