Culture of Indonesia

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Indonesian culture has been shaped by long interaction between original indigenous customs and multiple foreign influences. Indonesia is central along ancient trading routes between the Far East and the Middle East, resulting in many cultural practices being strongly influenced by a multitude of religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam, all strong in the major trading cities. The result is a complex cultural mixture very different from the original indigenous cultures.
Examples of cultural fusion include the fusion of Islam with Hindu in Javanese Abangan belief, the fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism and animism in Bodha, and the fusion of Hinduism and animism in Kaharingan; others could be cited.
Indonesian art-forms express this cultural mix. Wayang, traditional theater-performed puppet shows, were a medium in the spread of Hinduism and Islam amongst Javan villagers. Both Javanese and Balinese dances have stories about ancient Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms, while Islamic art forms and architecture are present in Sumatra, especially in the Minangkabau and Aceh regions. Traditional art, music and sport are combined in a martial art form called Pencak Silat.

Traditional Performing Arts

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Indonesia is home to various styles of music, with those from the islands of Java, Sumatra and Bali being frequently recorded. The traditional music of central and East Java and Bali is the gamelan.
In 1966, a law was passed (Panpres 11/1965) banning Western-style pop or rock music. On June 29, 1965, Koes Plus, a leading Indonesian pop group in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, was imprisoned in Glodok, West Jakarta, for playing Western-style music. After the resignation of President Sukarno, the law was rescinded, and in the 1970s the Glodok prison was dismantled and replaced with a large shopping mall. The new mall in Glodok is now the centre of recording, production and distribution of modern Indonesian pop and rock music.



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