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A Short Introduction To Indonesian Dance Costumes

Lila Bhawa Indonesian Dance UK Copyright SLPeet Photography

As the world’s largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands and over 300 ethnic groups, each with its own culture and traditions, it is no wonder that Indonesia can lay claim to having a very rich and eclectic range of traditional dance styles in the world. Central to the vast diversity of performances are the stunningly beautiful costumes that vary according to the region and the dance in question.

Tari Karonsih (L) Tari Ngarojeng (R) - Copyright SLPeet Photography

Tari Topeng Cirebon (L) Tari Baris Tunggal (R)- Copyright SLPeet Photography

Some of the costumes worn by the dancers today at festivals and opening ceremonies have been adapted from designs that date back hundreds of years. For instance, the costume worn for the Javanese dances Topèng Klana and Kencana Wungu were created in the 1960s, but are based on a dance from the 16th. century called Topèng Cirebon. Others, such as the dress of the Balinese fan dance Kebyar Duduk are twentieth-century developments.

Demang Miring (L)Tari Gambyong Mudhatama (R) - Copyright SLPeet Photography

All the costumes worn by professional dancers are hand-made and of high quality fabric. In Java, many incorporate intricate patterns and designs based on batik (an Indonesian dyeing technique). In Bali, Sumatra and Sulawesi, they often use songkèt (hand-woven cotton or silk patterned with gold or silver thread) or elegant ikat (tie-dyed cloth). Props and accessories like umbrellas, fans, sashes, and arm bracelets are used in specific dances.

A striking feature of many costumes, such as the one worn for Tari Payung, is an elaborate headpiece adorned with delicate objects like feathers, flowers or a cluster of hanging trinkets. Despite their diversity, they are all equally beautiful works of art that represent the charm and splendour of Indonesia.

To view more photographs of other Indonesian dance costumes go to my Lila Bhawa Indonesian Dance UK photoshoot page.

Photographs copyright SLPeet Photography. All rights reserved.

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