In Java and Bali, gamelan music accompanies dances,
theatre productions and religious celebrations. Gamelan orchestras may
have up to forty players each. The instruments include gongs, drums,
flutes, stringed instruments and instruments similar to xylophones.
Javanese gamelan music is slow and solemn, whereas Balinese gamelan music
is loud and fast.
Dancers start training for the classical dances of Java and Bali from the age of six. Javanese dance is controlled and subtle. Each movement has a symbolic meaning. Balinese dance includes more abrupt movements. The female dancers wear elaborate headdresses and grow long nails to emphasize their hand movements.
Wayang is Indonesian puppetry. Puppet shows
tell the stories of the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the
Mahabharata. Wayang kulit uses intricately detailed
shadow puppets made from buffalo hide. Wayang golek uses
three-dimensional wooden puppets.
Indonesians produce elaborate and beautiful textiles, using natural dyes made from plants. Ikat is produced by tying threads together before dyeing the fabric to produce a design. The Javanese produce beautiful batik. Fine patterns are drawn in wax on fabric. The cloth is then dyed to colour the areas that are not covered in wax. This process is repeated until a detailed pattern appears. Songket is made by weaving silk with silver and gold thread.
Tramoedya Ananta Toer is Indonesia's most well-known
author. He spent almost 14 years in jail because he criticized the government
in his writing. Mochtar Lubis is another renowned author. Twilight in
Djakarta is his most famous novel. In this work he criticizes corruption
and speaks out about poverty in Indonesia.
Garin Nugroho is Indonesia's best-known contemporary film director. He has won international awards for his feature films and documentaries. Bulan Tertusuk Ilalang (And the Moon Dances), 1995, won awards at film festivals in Berlin, Nantes, Singapore and Japan in 1996.