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Wood grows in abundance in tropical Indonesia. Early man found it o be one of his most important materials and became very proficient in shaping it to fit his many needs: canoes, ceremonial meeting halls, storage huts, digging sticks and ploughs, eating utensils and images for worship. These he skillfully decorated with a wide variety of symbolic designs.

West Papua’s primitive statue of Asmat, is hand carved from local mahogany. This impressive statue relates the myths and tales of the local tribes.

The wood statues are ancestor statues made in Nias of North Sumatra. They were made to commemorate the death of a respected member of the community, and served as mediators between that individual’s spirit and the people of that community. They are said to have been consulted in time of drought, war disturbance by evil spirits or more prosaically, before fishing expeditions.


Lombok Masks, these masks are all made from locally grown Mahogany wood. All hand carved, some are encrusted with mother of pearl and old Chinese trading coins, and others are hand painted with wonderful old tribal decorations.

In many of the more remotes of Borneo, Irian Jaya and other Outer islands, the local tribes still decorate their faces this way, using natural dyes extracted from local plants.

Miniature replicas of bridal figures that once sat at the front of the ritual bed in noble Javanese houses. The lady is Dewi Sri, goddess of fertility; the bed is her resting place and the symbolic center of the house — cosmos.

Dayak statuary is collectively called hampatong. Carved from wood or bone in the image of humans, ancestors, animals and demons, each have a special function. Miniature figures are beneficent medicine, large figures feature in mortuary rites and protect the village. Dayaks no longer like to sell their hampatong, so most on the market today are newly made, powerless and meaningless figures.

Garuda’s origins in Indonesia go back to the time, around the first century A.D., when sailors and traders from Southern India first came to the shores of the fertile islands looking for rice and riches. Not only did they bring goods and techniques, they brought also their literature.

In this literature, there were the stories of the origins, or Puranas, with the story of Garuda among them. The locals soon made these stories their own in a Sanskrit derived language called Kawi. It is in the earliest text of this literature, the Adiparwa (10th century A.D ) that the story of the mighty Garuda bird is found.

In the Old — Javanese tradition, Garuda is the carrier of the elixir of immortality. In modern representation, he carries in his claws a sentence which reads: "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ", the official translation of which is "Unity in Diversity".


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