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Pencak Silat

Pencak Silat is an umbrella term for the martial arts created in Indonesia. The leading organization of pencak silat in Indonesia is IPSI [Ikatan Pencak Silat Indonesia meaning Organization for Indonesian Pencak Silat]. The liaison body for international pencak silat is the International Pencak Silat Association or PERSILAT.

Pencak silat was chosen in 1948 as a unifying term for the Indonesian fighting styles. It was a compound of the two most commonly used words for martial arts in Indonesia. Pencak was the termused in Central and East Java, while silat was used in Sumatra. In modern usage, pencak and silat are seen as being two aspects of the same practice. Pencak is the performance aspects of the martial arts, while silat is the essence of the fighting and self-defense.

The origin of the words pencak and silat have not been proven. Some believe that pencak silat comes from the Sanskrit word panca meaning five, or from Chinese pencha meaning avert or deflect. The most prominent origin theory of the word silat is that it derives from sekilat which means "as [fast as] lightning". this may have been used to describe a warrior's movements before eventually being shortened to silat. Some believe it may come from the word elat which means to fool or trick. The word pencak appeared in the Malay language as early as Adat Raja Melayu the text: 1779; manuscripts: 1817, 1873, provenance: text & manuscripts: Melaka.

The pencak silat tradition is mostly oral, having been passed down almost entirely by word of mouth. In the absence of written records, much of its history is known only through myth and archaeological evidence. The primary weapons of Indonesia's tribal were the single-edge sword, shield and javelin. The inhabitants of Nias Island had until the 20th century remained largely untouched by the outside world. However, they are culturally similar to the Himalayan Naga tribe. Neighbouring Sumatrans are said to have left the Nias people alone because they were fearless warriors.

India and China were the first civilizations from outside Southeast Asia with whom Indonesia made contact. Both countries influenced the local culture, religion and martial arts. Bas-reliefs in Srivijaya depict warriors wielding such weapons as the jian or Chinese straight sword, which is still used in some styles today. Additionally, javanese blades are of Indian derivation. It was during this period that silat was first formulised. The earliest evidence of silat being taught in a structured manner comes from the Sumatra-based empire of Srivijaya where folklore tells that it was created by a woman named Rama Sukana who witnessed a fight between a tiger and a large bird. By using the animals' movements, she was able to fend off a group of drunken men that attacked her. She then taught the techniques to her husband Rama Isruna from whom they were formally passed down. There are several variations of this story depending on the region where it is told. On the island of Boyan [Bawean], Rama Sukana is believed to have watched monkeys fighting each other while the Sundanese of West Java believe that she created cimande after seeing a monkey battle a tiger. The accuracy of this legend cannot be substantiated but the fact that silat is attributed to a woman is thought to indicate their prominence in ancient Southeast Asian society.

Srivijaya had control of the Melaka Straits, making it one of the most powerful kingdoms in the history of Southeast Asia. Its reign encompassed what are now Sumatra, Singapore, western Borneo, peninsular Malaysia and Thailand. The empire was also a center of learning and religion, attracting scholars and holymen from around the Southeast Asian region. More than a thousand Buddhist monks were living and studying in Srivijaya-ruled Sumatra alone. Among them were Javanese, Siamese, Malays, Chams, and Chinese. This not only allowed pencak silat to spread throughout the archipelago but also brought the art into contact with what would become sibling fighting systems.

While Srivijaya dominated the coastal areas, the Sanjaya [or Mataram] and Sailendrakingdoms ruled Central Java. Pencak silat especially flourished in Java which is now home to more different styles than any other Indonesian islands. In the 13th century, Srivijaya was defeated by the Cholas of South India. This was followed by the decline of the Sailendra and Sanjaya kingdoms but it also gave rise to the Majapahit empire. This was the first empire to unite all of Indonesia's major islands. From its base in eastern Java, Indonesian culture flowered and pencak silat bacame highly refined. Weapons made by Majapahit smiths were greatly prized in the Malay Peninsula, such as the famed Kris Taming Sari.

The influence of silat from the mainland was consolidated by Ninik Dato' Suri Diraja [1097-1198] to create silek or Minangkabau silat in Sumatra. Pencak silat was later used by Indonesian freedom-fighters against Dutch colonists. During this time the Bugis and Makassar people from South Sulawesi were very well-known as expert sailors, navigators and warriors. After Indonesia's Independence, pencak silat was brought to Europe by Indo people of Eurasian [mixed Indonesian and European] ancestry, such as the well known Paatje Phefferkorn. The art is now popular in the Netherlands, Spain and France. Schools can also be found in the USA.

Jaipong Dance

Dancers Jaipong
Jaipong Dance is a popular traditional dance of Sundanese people, West Java, Indonesia. The dance was created by Gugum Gumbira, based on traditional Sundanese Ketuk Tilu music and Pencak Silat movements.

In 1961, Indonesian president Sukarno prohibited rock and roll and other western genres of music, and challenged Indonesian musicians to revive the indigenous arts. Gugum Gumbira took up the challenge, and studied rural dance and festival music for twelve years. Jaipong, was the most popular result of his study, derived from the updating of a village ritual music called Ketuk Tilu, with moves from Pencak Silat, The Indonesian martial art, and music from the masked theater dance, Topeng Banjet, and the Wayang Golek puppet theater.

In the original Ketuk Tilu, the group typically consists of the ketuk tilu pot-gong, other small gongs, a rebab [spike fiddle], barrel drums, and a female singer-dancers [ronggeng] who is often also a prostitute, who invites men to dance with her sensually. Gugum expanded the drum section as part of an urban gamelan orchestra, sped up the music, redefined the singer as just a singer [sinden], and came up with the catchy onomatopoeic name. Many listeners consider the music very complex, with the dynamic rhythm liable seemingly randomly.

Jaipong debuted in 1974 when Pak Gugum and his gamelan and dancers first performed in public. Sporadic government attempts to suppress it due to its perceived immorality [it inherited some of the sensuality of ketuk tilu] just made it more popular. It survived even after the official Indonesian ban on foreign pop music was lifted after a few years, and became a craze in the 1980's. Since the mid-1980's Jaipong importance as a social dance has waned, but it remained popular as a stage dance, performed by women, mixed couples or as a solo.

The most widely available album of jaipongan outside Indonesia is "Toggeret", featuring singer Idjah Hadidjah and Gugum Gumbira's Jugala orchestra, released in 1987, and re-released as part of "West Java: Sundanese Jaipong and other popular music", by Nonesuch Records under their Explorer Series label.

Ramayana Ballet

Sendratari Ramayana, also known as Ramayana Ballet, is an art exhibition that combines drama and dance to perform Ramayana story. Ramayana story is a legend beautifully carved on the wall of Siwa Temple, one of the temples in Prambanan complex. If you walk around the temple in a pradaksina [clockwise] direction, you will see the plot of Ramayana story on the reliefs.

The story of Ramayana played in the performance is based on the sculpture on the wall of Siwa Temple. The ballet stages an episode of Rama's life in his endeavor to free Shinta who is kidnapped by Rahwana, the king of Alengka. The long and thrilling plot is divided into four lakon or chapters, including the kidnap of Shinta, Anoman's mission to Alengka, the death of Kumbakarna and Rahwana, and the reunion of Rama and Shinta.

The Dancers
The whole story is wrapped in such a series of dance movements and steps performed by hundreds of gorgeous dancers to the accompaniment of gamelan [Javanese traditional music]. There is no dialog spoken by the dancers on stage, only sinden's [female Javanese singer] voice telling the general plot in Javanese language through songs. There are Indonesian and English narrations available for people who do not speak Javanese.

The first thing you will notice in the location is a majestic stage with a background af glowing Prambanan Temple as the beams of yellowish spotlights are shining around it. On the corner of the stage, sit tens of niyaga [gamelan musicians] with their instruments. Sounds produced through the kenong, gamelan, saron, kendang, and gong, will accompany you throughout the show. The melody will carry the audience away, bringing in imagination to enter the world of Ramayana.

Stage with Prambanan Temple in the Background
Right after the master of ceremonies opens the show, the stage lights will be turned off, leaving only a silhouette of Prambanan Temple glowing even brighter in the dark. Suddenly, the spotlights lit the stage and you will see some dancers coming out performing dancers of the first scene in chapter one. Then from up the stairs will appear two dayang [female personal guards], each carrying a golden bow, followed by a beautiful princess walking down gracefully. She is Shinta, the daughter of Prabu Janaka. By this time, it is told that her father is holding a contest to find a man for her. It turns out that Rama Wijaya wins the contest and gets Shinta.

The show goes on with the adventure of Rama, Shinta, and Laksmana in Dandakala Jungle, in which they meet Rahwana, who wants to possess Shinta. He believes that Shinta is an incarnation of Dewi Widowati, whom he has been seeking for a very long time. Rahwana then transforms one of his men into a handsome deer. Shinta is attracted to it and asks Rama to hunt it down for her. So he does, but then he does not come back. After some time, Laksmana goes to find Rama, leaving Shinta within protection of a magic circle. Nevertheless, the protection fails and Rahwana succeeds in kidnapping Shinta.

Rama, Shinta, and Rahwana
Knowing that Shinta is no longer in the place, Rama and Laksmana decide to look for her. Not long after, a white monkey appears. He is Hanoman, sent by Sugriwa to find two brave men to kill Subali. Subali is the man who has kidnapped Dewi Tara, Sugriwa's lover. Being compelled, Rama agrees to help. Sugriwa and Rama finally defeat Subali and bring home Dewi Tara. To pay Rama back, Sugriwa will help Rama to find Dewi Shinta.

In the kingdom of Alengka, Rahwana is trying to persuade Shinta to become his wife, but she refuses. When Shinta is drowned in sadness alone, all ao a sudden, she hears a beautiful voice, apparently of Hanoman, the white monkey. Hanoman erxplains to her that he is sent by Rama to free her. After that, Hanoman devastates the garden of Alengka Kingdom.

Burnt Hanoman 
Indrajit, Rahwana's son, manages to capture Hanoman. Hanoman is then sentenced to death by fire. While being burnt, Hanoman is able to break away and moreover, burns the kingdom with the flame on his body. After hearing the explanation of Hanoman, who escapes from the death sentence, Rama himself sets out to Alengka accompanied with a monkey troop. He attacks the kingdom and wipe out Alengka's soldiers. Rama finally kills Rahwana.

In the end, Shinta is brought home by Hanoman. When they meet, however, Rama does not trust her anymore because he thinks Shinta must have been sullied. To prove her chastity, Shinta is asked to burn her own body. It turns out that Shinta is still pure because her body does not get burnt at all and in fact, she gets prettier. Seen this, Rama accepts Shinta as wife again.

During the two hour show, you will be amused by an extraordinary performance that you will not feel bored or dissapointed. Every gesture illustrates what the performer wants to say: Shinta's graceful motion that is coquettish, Rahwana's that is rough yet comical, the gestures of Rama and Subali that are so calm and charismatic, not to mention the hyperactive movements of Hanoman, Subali and the monkey troops in their colorful costume.

Monkey Troop
Aside from the dance, you will see other interesting actions such as fire and acrobatic attractions. You can see such a captivating fire attraction when Hanoman, who is in flame himself, is burning Alengka Kingdom. Another is displayed when Shinta is trying to show her chastity by burning herself alive. Acrobatic dance is performed during the fight between Hanoman and Rahwana's troops.

It is not only the music and dance that are really prepared, the lighting is also set up meticulously. This is what makes the exhibition special: the lights do not only function to illuminate the stage, they also help to illustrate a situation and the feelings of the characters. Watching Sendratari Ramayana under the stars and seeing Prambanan Temple in the dark background of the night will surely be an unforgettable experience.

Reog Ponorogo

Once upon a time, the King of Bantar Angin Kingdom named Kelana Swadana was going to propose for marriage to a beautiful girl, the daughter of Kediri King. Unfortunately, Kelana Swadana's journey to Kediri was stopped because of the cruel blockade done by a group of wild animals namely Singobarong which guarded the area of Lodaya forest, in which Kelana Swadana had to pass it to reach Kediri. A fierce combat between Singobarong and the entourage of Kelana Swadana could not be avoided anymore at the time.

Commemorating the story above, a traditional performing art namely reog ponorogo is held. The order of a reog performance follows the order of the story about the fierce combat between Kelana Swadana and Singobarong. A reog performance is usually begun by six or eight men - dancers - in black clothes and wearing red masks. Those dancers perform a lively dance representing the angered Singobarong in the story of Kelana Swadana. The next order in a reog performance is a stately dance performed by men in women's dress - presenting kuda kepang [a plaited bamboo sheet shaping out like a horse] dance.

The second fragment of a reog performance is the core which is greatly influenced by a situation wherein the reog performance is taking place. A reog performance is dominated by love story when someone holding marriage celebration invites a reog performance group. Otherwise, a reog performance will be dominated by bravery and heroic story when it is held to commemorate Indonesia Independence Day.

The end of a reog performance is signed by the appearance of Singobarong performed by a man wearing a big mask representing Singobarong in the story of Kelana Swadana. The Singobarong mask is usually weighting around 50 to 60 kilograms but few people know that Singobarong mask is worn by a man only by biting a branch of wood installed behind the mask. The only special man with magical and supernatural powers can perform the figure of Singobarong in a reog performance.

For you who want to see directly a reog performance, just come to Ponorogo District, East Java, on August 17 th, along the Indonesia Independence Day. Not only reog performance, but also cultural festival and parade are usually organized at the time.

A reog performance is usually organized in a special occasion such as an Indonesia Independence Day or a marriage ceremony. A reog performance needs vast space since in the middle of the performance, they - the dancers - are inserted the spirit of dead people hence the performance seems so liar. Warok - the reog group leader - recites some mantras asking for successful performance, prior to the performance begins.

There is no strict story order within a reog performance. The dancers commonly follow the scenario arranged by a warok, however. The interaction between the dancers and the warok should be intensified well during a reog performance. By that way, a reog performance seems so attractive enough since sometimes, there is a good interaction happening between reog dancers with the audiences coming to watch the performance.

Giriloyo Batik Center

Batik from Giriloyo
After UNESCO officially announced batik as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity on October 2 2009 in Abu Dhabi, its image rise significantly as one of Indonesian heritages. All elements of Indonesian society are really proud of it and thus their appreciation upon batik rises. They show their pride and appreciation by wearing batik as working outfit and school uniform. However, wearing batik is not enough as an appreciation without knowing the history, the production proses, and the value of batik as a national heritage. Those are important to know, especially for Indonesian young generation, so that batik as a cultural icon will be everlasting.

To get well acquaintanced with batik, it is better for you to visit Giriloyo hamlet in the southern of Yogyakarta to learn everything about batik, especially batik tulis or batik handmade. Giriloyo, which is located in Bantul regency, is a production center of batik tulis. This place has at least 800 batik artisans, who are divided into some groups and assembled in an organization called "Paguyuban Batik Tulis Giriloyo". The establishment of the organization was intialized by the idea of Jogja Heritage Society [JHS] under the cooperation with Australian-Indonesia partnership soon after the 27 th May 2006 earthquake.

The activity of batik making in Giriloyo has been last since the establishment of the Royal Mausoleum of Mataram Kings. in Pajimatan hamlet in 1654. The Keraton official then asked several Abdi Dalem to keep the complex. The frequent interaction between the residents of Pajimatan and the abdi dalem open the villagers' view about batik Kraton, so they learned how to make such fine motives of batik.

As the time passed by, order of batik from Pajimatan rised significantly. On the other hand, the number of the maker was insufficient. Therefore, the Pajimatan batik artisans cooperated with the batik artisans Giriloyo. The system that they used in the cooperated at the time was like this: the half-done batik fabrics from Pajimatan were taken by the artisans from Giriloyo for the finishing process. After the finishing process was done, they brought the batik back to Pajimatan. From the cooperation, the Giriloyo artisans learned to make batik with such motives from Pajimatan and established their own batik industry. Thus, the name of Giriloyo batik is better known than Pajimatan batik "www.batiktulisgiriloyo.blogspot.com".

In addition to its fame as batik center, the Giriloyo batik artisans have successfully record their ability by making the longest batik in Indonesia [1,2 km]. It is recorded in the Indonesian Record Museum [MURI} which also marking their resurgence after the 2006 earthquake.

Varied motives of batik tulis Giriloyo
Every place has its own style of in every piece of batik they make, such as motive, coloring technique, as well as the production process. Although many batik artisans now print the motives on the fabric using such monotype and make modern batik motives, batik artisans from Giriloyo keep draw the motives manually. They also keep the motives classic and traditional, every which has its own philosophical value such as: Sido Asih [the person who wear the motive will have a harmonic family], Sido Mukti [if the motive is worn by a bride or groom, he/she will have a happy and wealthy life], Sido Mulyo [noble life], Truntum [spring love], Madu Bronto [love as sweet as honey], and many more.

Batik artisans making batik
Batik artisans in Giriloyo use two kinds of coloring, natural and synthetic. For the natural one, they take the colors from leaves, fruits, flowers, and other natural material. Red color is taken from morinda root, while blue color is taken from indigofera. Synthetic color is retrieved from chemicals.

However, the Giriloyo batik artisans agree to use natural coloring batter than the synthetic one to maintain the quality. Beside, the natural coloring gives more beautiful result. In addition to the traditional motive, the Giriloyo batik artisans also make minimalist motives which looks classic, graceful, and elegant. Some product of Giriloyo which use batik are traditional jarit, saroong, shirts, pillowcase, tablecloth, handkerchief, batik painting, and many more.

If you are interested to learn how to make batik, you should visit Giriloyo because as a batik center, Giriloyo also facilities its visitors with a special package of batik making. The package is prepared for minimum 10 people and maximum 50 people. In the package, you will be guided by batik artisans to make your own batik work which you can bring home. While you are waiting for your own batik work to be processed, you can take a walk to The Royal Mausoleum of Mataram Kings on the top of Imorgiri hill or tasting the local traditional menus such as pecel kembang turi, tiwul ayu, gurah tea, or wedang uwuh.

Giriloyo Batik Center is located on 1 km from the burial plot complex of mataram kings in Imogiri. Its exact location is in Giriloyo Hamlet, Wukirsari Village, Imogiri Sub-regency, Bantul Regency, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Komodo Island

Komodo is an Indonesian island home to approximately 2,000 people who are mostly descendants of former convicts once exiled here. The island is part of Komodo National Park and is especially known for its native Komodo Dragon the world's largest living lizard !!!

In 1908, a unit of Netherlands army reported that they saw a dragon looking like a monster in southern island of East Nusa Tenggara Province. Knowing the news, Lieutenant Steyn van Hens Broek, a functional administrator of the Netherlands, wanted to prove it. Then, he prepared a unit of army whose office was in Flores to sail to that island.

Having arrived there, Lieutenant Steyn and his crew saw giant lizards which length was up to two meters. Steyn could kill one of those giant lizards and brought it to his office in Ende City. Then, this giant lizard was photographed and the picture was brought to Peter A. Ouwens, a director of Zoological Museum and Botanical Garden in Bogor. This was the first documentation of a giant lizard named Komodo. Therefore, in 1910 the Netherlands named the island as Komodo Island.

The result of that photography was published by a national daily newspaper of Netherlands in 1912. This publication made Komodo Island visited by the researchers, missionaries, and tourists. Realizing that Komodo was a special rare animal in 1915, the Netherlands government issued a rule about protection to this animal from hunting and killing.

As the name, Komodo Island is an which is known as the original of Komodo [Varanus Komodoensis]. The local people calls this animal as Ora. Until present day, Komodo still becomes a pride because it becomes a source of income for local people from the tourists who visit the island.

In this island, tourists can see Komodo which is the biggest lizard species around the world, with length of the body up to 3,13 meters and weight up to 165 kilograms. The tourists also can see several activities of this rare animal, such as the Komodo copulate which always happens between May until August; Komodo which is eating deer, goats, and pigs; and see Komodo which is sun-bathing on the road and on the branches of trees in the morning.

In 1980 the government made Komodo Island as the Komodo National Park to protect Komodo from extinction. Six years later, in 1986, this national park was accepted as the World Inheritance Site by UNESCO. This national park consists of two big island. They are Rinca Island and Padar Island surrounded by several small islands. The total wide of this national park was 1.817 kilometers square.

Komodo Island is an located in the western area of East Nusa Tenggara Province bordered to the West Nusa Tenggara Province. Administratively, this island is included in the Komodo Sub-district, West Manggarai District, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia.

Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple is one of the most prestigious historical properties that can be found in Indonesia. It is noted as one of the World Wonder Heritage by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO]. The existence of Borobudur was discovered by General Governor Sir Thomas Raffles around 800 A.D., after being buried for a long time following the eruption of Merapi Volcano.It is said that the temple was built at the era of king Syailendra in the eight century. "Borobudur" is derived from "Bara" / "Vihara" that means "temple;" or "beduhur" that means "above" or "hill".

This 34.5-meter-height monument comprises 10 layers, which the lower six are square and the upper three layer are circular. Reliefs on the wall are counted about 1460, while the Buddha statues are about 504 and 72 stupas. Just take a bird-eye view, thus the temple is almost like a lotus.

Discover the ancient stories, which mostly are influenced by Buddhism like Ramayana and Mahabharata, on the relief wall of Borobudur Temple. You can discern the whole story by reading the relief clockwise. Not only does the relief display the stories of both Ramayana and Mahabharata, but the social circumstance happening in society. The relief displays the surrounding farmers activities, especially in agriculture. From this we can see that the society had ever suffered from advanced agricultural devices of that time.

The biggest stupa as well as the highest symbol of Buddhist divine concept, is a representation of the universe. It consists of three layers that symbolize the Buddhist concept on micro-cosmos. The first layer is a symbol of the world wherein the evil deed still plays a huge role in the human will. The second layer depicts a world wherein the human has been capable of managing evil deed to improve the good deed. The third layer symbolizes the human life in which the people are able to avoid from mere mundanity.

With abundant enchantment as well as its undiscovered mysteries, Borobudur is a big magnet to attract a number of both foreign and local visitors. This is the glory of human cultural civilization living in the ninth century. You can see experience, likewise, the sensation of village tour at Karanganyar and Wanurejo villages. There you can find the smiling local inhabitants earning their living from handicraft making. As well, you may reach the nearest hill Watu Kendil, and watch the panoramic scenery of Borobudur and surrounding areas. So, what are you waiting for ?..

Borobudur Temple lies at Borobudur Village, Borobudur Sub-district, in the district of Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia.