west java geoThe enchanting and beautiful land of Parahyangan or Sunda are both magical names for West Java stretches from the Sunda Straits in the west to the borders of central java in the east.

The north coast of West Java is a part of the Sunda Shelf that stretches to the east and borders the Strait of Makassar and the Bali Sea. Most probably the best-known natural wonder on the south Sunda coast is Pelabuhan Ratu.

The geographical borders of West Java are to the west, is the Province Banten and Sunda Strait, lies the island volcano ‘Anak Krakatau’, the most violent volcanic explosions ever to occur anywhere in the world.

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    Mountain and Highland

    The Parahyangan Highlands are the heartland of West Java, and at the center is the provincial capital of Bandung. These mountain highlands, also called the West Java Highlands, stretch from the Puncak area to Tasikmalaya in the east.

    The region includes three of West Java’s four main geological zones, namely the mountains north of Bandung, the Bandung Basin, and the mountain range south of Bandung.

    The landscape of the Parahyangan highlands has been formed by volcanoes whose eruptions over the ages have brought calamity as well as rich, fertile soil. Some volcanoes in the region are still active today and are favorite destinations for sightseers and hikers.

    Among the volcanoes that are considered active are Mt. Ciremai near Cirebon, at 3,078 in West Java’s tallest mountain; Mt. Gede at the western periphery of the Parahyangan Highlands; the famous Mt. Tangkuban Perahu just north of Bandung; Mt. Papandayan with its spectacular sulphur-studded crater; and Mt. Galunggung, which erupted violently in 1982.

    Not so long ago, however, the landscape of the Parahyangan Highlands looked quite different from how it does today. The geological history of the Bandung Valley is particularly interesting.

    The most recent changes to the geography of the Bandung Basin have been man made. Hydroelectric engineers had been eyeing the Citarum Gorge for a long time with a view to constructing a hydropower plant, a project which finally materialized in 1985. Saguling Reservoir is the result, adding even more diversity to the Parahyangan Highlands of today.

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    Forest and Plantation

    As the result of java sedimentation weathering, breksitufa and volcanic mud flow expelled by volcanoes long time ago. The land use in mountainous area is in form of preserved forest, recreational forest, platation (tea and quinine) wheres areas around for of mountains are use to cultivate holticultura plant (eapecially vegetables), tea platations and mixed estates.

    If there were still a paradise on earth, a part of it would be Cibodas. So said Dr. Friest W. Went, a Dutch plant physiologist, when he described his rapture of working in Cibodas botanical garden. The beauty of the 80 hectares Cibodas Botanical Garden is truly beyond description. There are spectacular meadows and deep groves of trees, on the slopes of mount Gede Pangrango. There is collection of hundreds of different types and ages of ,tree, and 5,831 different plants catalogued thus far. As a portal to climb Mount Gede Pangrango, Cibodas Botanical Garden sees some 400,000 visitors per year, come to look at the greenhouse, waterfall and 4,000 types of cactus plus 350 varieties of orchid!

    The Pananjung Pangandaran Nature Reserve is 500 hectares. and lies on a Peninsular a little south of Pangandaran, on the south coast of Sunda. The area consists of tropical rainforest, a coral garden, beaches, grass-land, swamps, caves and several World War Two shelters. Only the 40 hectares.

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    Waterfalls, Lakes and Canyon

    The 300 km long main artery of the Parahyangan Highlands is the Citarum River, one of Java’s few big rivers. In ancient times, a volcanic mud flow dammed the Citarum River and caused the Bandung Lake to form. Today the river is important for having contributed to the area’s fertility, for draining the whole Bandung Basin, for yielding electrical power and for providing irrigation.

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    Beaches, Coast and Ocean

    The Indonesian archipelago covers an area of 3.2 million square kilometers, of which 70 percent is water. The coastline is 61,000 kilometers long, and the shelf area is 775,000 square kilometers.

    The north coast of West Java is a part of the Sunda Shelf that stretches to the east and borders the Strait of Makassar and the Bali Sea.

    Most probably the best-known natural wonder on the south Sunda coast is Pelabuhan Ratu. It is a place of picturesque and unique beauty, enhanced by the hatches, steep cliffs and roaring waves breaking on the beach – many visitors decline to swim in the sometimes treacherous waters of Pelabuhan Ratu. Beautiful but deadly – and part of a legend.

    The famous deep blue water of Pelabuhan Ratu Bay provide many opportunities to enjoy a wide range of water sports, for locals and visitors alike. In addition to the ever popular swimming and surfing, there are boating, wind-surfing, deep-sea fishing and water-skiing facilities available for all to enjoy. Nothing luxurious should be expected.

west java history

Powerful and ancient kingdoms, such as Tarumanegara, Pajajaran and Cirebon, have risen, ruled and fallen in the history of this Province and provide fascinating studies for students of archaeology and history.

West Java was one of the first, contact points in Indonesia for Indian traders and their cultural influences and it was here that the Dutch and British first set foot in Indonesia.

The Dutch moved their center of operations to Sunda Kelapa (now Jakarta) after fierce competition and rivalry with the British, only to return at a later date.

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    Early Sunda History

    The earliest written records of Javanese history make mention of the land of Sunda , that is, West Java . Somewhere on the banks of a river east of Jakarta was the capital of the kingdom called Tarumanagara, and in the 5th century A.D. King Purnawarman was its ruler.

    He apparently initiated the construction of an irrigation canal for rice fields and left stone inscriptions for later generations. One of these inscriptions was discovered on a boulder in a river bed near Bogor; a replica of it is on display in the West Java Provincial Museum in Bandung. Chinese and Indian sources indicate that there were commercial relations between Tarumanagara and China at that time.

    Evidence of this is in records about Java and its kingdoms compiled by the Buddhist monk Fa Xian, who traveled from Sri Lanka to China in 413 A.D. Also, a number of envoys traveled between China and a Javanese kingdom called He Luo Dan, which may have been identical with Tarumanagara.

    Like many other Southeast Asian kingdoms of that era, Tarumanagara drew heavily upon Indian elements of culture, literature, and philosophy, blending them with local elements into a unique synthesis. We do not know what finally happened to the kingdom of Tarumanagara, only that within the next three centuries it disappeared, perhaps because of the rise of the Sriwijaya Empire in south Sumatra . Among the smaller kingdoms that succeeded it were those of Kuningan, northeast of Bandung; Galuh, whose capital was southeast of Bandung near Ciamis, and Pajajaran, whose capital was near Bogor . These kingdoms eventually united under the banner of Pajajaran.

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    The Arrival of New Times

    The 16th century brought two great turning points in the history of Java, including the land of Sunda: the rapid spread of Islam starting from the port cities on the north coast, and the arrival of the Dutch just before 1600, following the earlier voyages of the Portuguese and Spanish.

    In 1596 four Dutch vessels arrived in Banten after a stormy voyage around Cape of Good Hope, thus ushering in 350 years of Dutch hegemony.

    Six years after their arrival, the East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) was founded in order to create a spice monopoly, which benefited Dutch traders to the detriment of local producers. The VOC established itself at Banten and developed the port of Sunda Kelapa, which became Batavia, the hub of later colonial rule.

    In the First Javanese War of Succession in the early 18th century, the VOC helped Pakubuwana to ascend to the throne, and he in turn ceded the whole Parahyangan region to the VOC. This was the first major territorial acquisition of the Dutch in Indonesia. The Dutch government took over the administration of the East Indies, whereupon one of its first major undertakings was the construction of a trunk road through the whole length of Java from 1808 to 1810. Its incredible 1,000-km route took it from Anyer at its westernmost point to Pamanukan in the east. Tragically, an estimated 30.000 Javanese coolies died in forced labor during its construction. Though it was called the Groote Postweg ( Great Post Road ), its primary significance was military. The Dutchman who managed the project was Governor General Marshal Daendels, who overcame considerable physical and political obstacles to complete the project. A particularly memorable stretch of road is just northeast of Bandung where a dramatic historical confrontation took place between Daendels and the local ruler, Prince Kornel.

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    The Rise of Bandung

    One of the earliest known maps of Bandung shows that by 1825, just fifteen years after the city’s formal establishment, considerable development had taken place along JI. Asia Afrika (the Groote Postweg), JI. Braga and JI. Merdeka. At the center was the Alun-alun, where the Pendopo (the regent’s residence), the mosque and the post office were located.

    Whereas the Groote Postweg was clearly responsible for the city’s location, the prosperous plantations in the area were the engines of its early growth. just as Java had been called the Garden of the East, the Preanger region came to be known as the Garden of Java , an exceptional agricultural area whose productivity excelled even that of its fertile neighbors.

    Coffee had been cultivated in the region since 1700, but not until the early 19th century did coffee planters such as Andries de Wilde and Pieter Engelhard manage to make a product known as “Javakoffie” appealing to European tastes. Previously exported coffee from the area was notorious for its foul taste and dubbed “Le Mauvais Cafe de Batavia.” Another of these figures was Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn, a pioneering agriculturalist on Java who established large quinine plantations. He succeeded where others had failed by introducing South American varieties to the area in the 1850′s.

    The next major impetus for city growth was the arrival of the railway from Batavia (Jakarta) on 17 May 1884. Ten years later the railway extension to Surabaya was completed and Bandung became a stopping-off point along the trans-Java route as well as a popular tourist destination in its own right. By 1934 the National Railway Company (Staats Spoorwegen/SS) was running four trains daily between Batavia and Bandung.

    The trip took just a couple of hours, compared to a journey of three days along Daendels’ Groote Postweg. Their motto was “4S”-”Staats Spoor Steeds Sneller”(National Railways always faster) When the trains first arrived, Bandung ‘s infrastructure was poorly developed and the hinterland was still a wilderness. Up to the end of the century there were reports of rural roads made dangerous by tigers and blocked by herds of rhinos. The last rhino was shot in the Preanger region in 1935 and its remains are now on display in the Zoological Museum in Bogor. As late as 1920 there was a report of a panther descending from the hills and running amok in the streets of Bandung , an event causing considerable panic.

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    Bandung, Paris of The East

    The capital of West Java, a charming city which has often been described as ‘ Paris of the East,’ a typical Asian city, the Flower City, or alters the first Afro Asian Conference that took place in Bandung. Bandung is known the capital of Afro Asian. Though it still bears that past splendor today.

    Not even the first Dutchman who was banned to this terra incognito from Batavia , not the Governor General Daendels who later ordered the Regent of Bandung to move the capital to its present site; not even Sangkuriang, the prince who played a legendary role creating long gone lake of Bandung. But Bandung is Bandung, it is growing to be herself, carrying her own charms and characteristics. It would just lead to an exaggeration when one pretends that Bandung is the most beautiful city of the country, though many have admitted that Bandung is a delightful city.

    Although some believe that the name of Bandung was mentioned for the first time in the late 15th century – as part of the Sivaistic kingdom of Padjadjaran which capital was located in the hills around Bogor – but until two hundred years later the area of Bandung remained a ‘terra incognito.’ A remote and tiny village amidst bushes and forest, unknown beyond the immediate district.

    A report even said that when the first Dutchman reached this area early in the 17th century, he discovered only about twenty five humble huts.

Sundanese culture combines very diverse elements. Sundanese language and manners range from highly refined and formalized to downright vulgar and ribald.

Sundanese performing arts comprise a dynamic tradition in which experiment has always been a vital factor. Even the most conservative musicians pride themselves on innovations they have introduced, as well as on preserving intact the tradition they have inherited, without apparent contradiction.

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    Saung Angklung Udjo (SAU) is one–stop cultural workshop, consists of : performance venue, bamboo handicraft centre, and bamboo instrument workshop. Apart from that, SAU has an honorable function as an educational laboratory and training centre to preserve the Sundanese culture – Angklung in particular.

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    The ancient royal capital of Cirebon holds performances of masked dances, some of which continue traditions from hundreds of years ago. In the city of Subang there is the Bajidoran performance, and all over Sunda you can hear the soft melodious environments of Gamelan Degung and Tari Kreasi Baru (modern dance).

    The Jaipongan dance is normally associated with the cultural life of Bandung; this dance is very popular in West Java and can even be thought of as one of Indonesia’s national dances, as it is popular everywhere around the archipelago. Created by combining Sundanese classical dances, this dance often involves the entire audience joining in.

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    Wayang Golek

    Then there is Wayang Golek, an art form particular to West Java, and one which has survived many generations. Wayang is performed not merely for entertainment but also functions as a method of religious and philosophical teaching. Wayang Golek is performed by a Dalang, acting all at once as narrator, operator and performer. The performance customarily lasts all night long.

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    Gamelan Degung and Tembang Sunda

    Some of the most classical genres, such as Gamelan Degung and Tembang Sunda are little more than a century old, and have changed fundamentally in the last fifty years. To remain in work, performers must follow artistic fashion.

The Sundanese are an ethnic group native to the western part of the Indonesian island of Java. They number approximately 39 million, and are the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia. The Sundanese are predominantly Muslim. During the 2010 Census the government identified 1,128 ethnic backgrounds in the country, though total figures are not yet released for Sundanese. In their own language, Sundanese, the group is referred to as Urang Sunda, and Suku Sunda or Orang Sunda in the national language, Indonesian.

The Sundanese have traditionally been concentrated in the provinces of West Java, Banten, Jakarta, and the western part of Central Java. Sundanese migrants can also be found in Lampung and South Sumatra. The provinces of Central Java and East Java are home to the Javanese, Indonesia’s largest ethnic group.

Sundanese culture has a number of similarities with Javanese culture; however it differs by being more overtly Islamic, and has a less rigid system of social hierarchy. The common identity that binds Sundanese together is their language and culture.

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    Renowned for showing uncommon warmth, along with courtesy and politeness. They have a strong sense of helping each other when in need. The word we is quite commonly used in basic conversation, sharing tasks together.

    Treating each other with consideration, not offending others or making anyone uncomfortable or angry are considered as elementary manners.

    Thus, disagreeable or unpleasant facts are not communicated directly. Instead, people will say what they think someone wants to hear rather then what it is actually a flat refusal. Kindness and consideration is also accorded to foreigners, and it is useful to know the custom of the people. For instance, pointing one’s toes at another is considered impolite, particularly when sitting with older people.


    West Java is an independent nation. It has a diverse multi-cultural population of around 4.1 million people, the majority of whom are Sundanesse, which make up around 80 percent of the population. Indigenous Chinese make up around 15 percent of the population.

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    From its first traces, animism and the sacred regard for nature formed the earliest belief systems in West Java. Later this was expressed more formally in Hinduism and there are still enclaves today where these practices continue. Ancient Buddhist relics attest to its early influence as well. The earliest Buddhist and Hindu relics in the country are in West Java.

    The majority of West Java population is practicing Muslims, reaching approximately 85% of total. Followed by Christians, which arrived from the northern and eastern part of the archipelago. Many traces of pre-Hindu paganism, as well as of Hinduism, survive in popular religion; the most outstanding is the cult of the rice goddess, Devi Sri.

    As is fitting in a society woven from such a variety of spiritual threads, most of the Javanese are exceptionally tolerant in religious matters, choosing to honor their chosen faith in a personal way and leaving others to follow their own beliefs in peace.

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    This is typical of the Sundanese, the residents of West Java, known as well as Pasundan or Priangan land, one of the most densely populated regions on the island of Java. The Sundanese even have their own dialect, different from the Javanese. Sundanese has three honorific levels: refined speech for older/senior people, normal language spoken among those of the same class, and low language, used when addressing servants, children, of students.

    Sundanese language and manners range from highly refined and formalized to downright vulgar and ribald. Such contrasts are reflected in the performing arts, ranging from the exquisite melancholy of courtly poetry sung in Tembang Sunda, to rhythmic sounds squeezed from the armpits of Ngajibrut street entertainers.

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    Traditional Village

    One of the most interesting villages in all of Sunda is Kampung Naga. Despite its fierce name it is in reality a very peaceful place, that has preserved its traditional village layout, architecture, and way of life. The village is scenically located near the road connecting Garut and Tasikmalaya. From the road to Kampung Naga and back, including a short walk around the village, takes about an hour.

    The uniqueness of this village lies in the uniformity of the houses: the direction they face, their design, and the building materials. All the gables of the houses face the river and are aligned along an east-west axis. The thatching material for the roofs is ijuk (sugar-palm fiber). There are no motorcycles or any other vehicles in or near the village; they could not negotiate the stairs in any case. The narrow lanes between the houses are made of round cobblestones, as are the retaining walls and the stairways which lead to the upper parts of the village.

    There is no electricity in Kampung Naga, and even the use of window glass is very recent. All in all, Kampung Naga has just over a hundred houses and as many families. In the village center, right next to the assembly hall, is a small stall selling handicraft items made from split bamboo at very moderate prices. A curious specially is the collapsible sun hat.

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    Sundanese Cuisine

    Sundanese cuisine is the cuisine of Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia. It is one of the most popular foods in Indonesia. The Sundanese food is characterize with its freshness; the famous lalab eaten with sambal and also karedok demonstrate the Sundanese fondness for fresh raw vegetables. Unlike the rich and spicy taste, filled with coconut milk and curry of Minangkabau cuisine, the Sundanese cuisine displays the simple and clear taste; ranged from savoury salty, fresh sourness, mild sweetness, to hot and spicy.

    Sambal terasi is the most important and the most common condiment in Sundanese cuisine, and eaten together with lalab or fried tofu and tempeh. Sayur Asem vegetable tamarind soup is probably the most popular vegetable soup dish in Sundanese cuisine. Another popular soup is Soto Bandung, a soup of beef and daikon radish, and mie kocok noodle soup with beef meat and kikil.

taman bunga nusantara
West Java is covered with tropical forests with flora and fauna rarely found in other provinces. Further, its tropical forests are rich with various animals, among them many different types of monkeys.

It’s no wonder-the Land of Sunda, principally the Parahyangan Highlands, is a region of West Java that has received copious attention to detail and diversity from the forces of creation long ago (Parahyangan means “Abode of the Gods”).

Whatever you are looking for in your tropical vacation, you will certainly find something to please and surprise you in modern and traditional West Java! Plan on spending time to get around (roads are not always easy to navigate), but prices are fair and the locals friendly.

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    Park and Reserves

    Botanical Garden

    You can find one of the biggest botanical gardens in the world, covers 110 hectares of land, and was established in 1817. The garden is renowned for its range of tropical botanical specimens, features pathways through bamboo stands, rattan, orchids, water lilies, fountain lakes, a miniature tropical rainforest and zoological museum. About 15,000 native plants collected from all over Indonesia and foreign species introduced from many tropical countries are now grown in the garden. There is an excellent zoological museum in the southern part of the garden, with an immense collection of 30,000 specimens of land and sea creatures from throughout Indonesia, along with a richly- illustrated library of this botanical zone.

    The park is still a major centre for botanical research in Indonesia. The gardens contain streams and lotus ponds and more than 15,000 species of trees and plants, including 400 types of magnificent palms. The gardens’ orchid houses are reputed to contain more than 3,000 orchid varieties and are open to the general public.

    Nusantara Flower Garden

    Nusantara Flower Garden, has collected more than 300 varieties of flowers, on the 35 hectare site. Shapes and colors of roses become another show at Nusantara Flower Garden. Tea rose species from Australia and America are available here.

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    National Park

    Gunung Halimun

    Most of the park’s flora is comparable to that of the Gunung Halimun National Park. Due to poisonous volcanic gasses only plants adapted to this kind of environment, such as Myrsine Avensis, Rhododendron Javanicum, R. Retusum, Selliguea feei and Vaccinium Varingiaefolium will grow here. As many as 200 species of orchids can be found. Not with standing the small size of the park a variety of animals can be seen. The park is a bird-watcher’s paradise as more than 250 species can be spotted.

    Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park

    Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park comprises a variety of landscapes. Although small, the site has beautiful waterfalls, lakes and rivers, rugged volcanic landscapes, quiet alms, mountain swamp and tropical mountain forest. At higher elevations there are vast alpine grassy areas. The park is best visited during the dry season: May-October. From January till March the park is closed.

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    Wildlife Encounter

    Taman Safari Bogor

    Taman Safari, a free-range zoo on the mountain slopes where lions and tigers graze in open spaces. Both indigenous and imported exotic wildlife roam free while visitors drive through in closed vehicles. Taman Safari is also renowned for its successful breeding program. A minibus for visitors to tour through the garden is also available.


    Untouched wildlife and stunning scenery, can be seen in Halimun National Park. More than 200 species of endemic, rare and common birds including the endangered Javana Hawk Eagle, as well as several species of primates, such as the Javan Gibbon, the Javan Leaf-monkey, and the Black Leaf-monkey reside within the park.

    Pananjung Pangandaran

    Pangandaran is especially of interest to nature lovers, as there is a wildlife reserve in the vicinity where wild birds, bats, deer, wild cattle (banteng), porcupines, black monkeys, green tree snakes, and, on some secluded beaches, crabs, sea turtles and beautiful fishes in the sea. In addition, there are caves (bring a good flashlight) and good lookout points from the cliffs.

West Java has a wealth of natural resources to be processed, and used as a source of raw materials of various crafts. West Java geography structure ranging from the highlands to the coastal areas and varied climate of each region, making West Java rich of raw material, rich in cellulose fiber derived from natural fibers produced from different types of parts of plants and trees, as well rich diversity of plants that can produce natural dyes for dyeing batik and other crafts.

Some areas such as Purwakarta in West Java, Cirebon, Sukabumi is also famous for the clay raw material sources (both red soil and white soil) for its local pottery production, and high burnt pottery. In terms of visual, craft in West Java has a diversity of designs, shapes and colors of craft products.

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    Priangan Batik

    Priangan Batik or Sundanese Batik is the term proposed to identify various batik cloths produced in the “Priangan” region, a cultural region in West Java and Northwest Java. Traditionally this type of batik is produced by Sundanese people in the several district of West Java such as Ciamis, Garut, an Tasikmalaya; however it also encompasses Kuningan Batik which demonstrate Cirebon Batik influences.

    The motifs of Priangan batik are visually naturalistic and strongly inspired by flora (flowers and swirling plants) and fauna (birds especially peacock and butterfly).

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    Wayang Golek

    Wayang golek comes with various beautiful and unique shapes with a wide collection of characters. A valuable and precious heritage! Wayang Golek craft collection not only become a solace of  a glorious past but it is more than that. As a representation of Indonesian high quality, classic and valuable culture. As well as physical evidence of the richness of West Java culture that not only has a unique puppet show form but also the aesthetics of a culture into one complete package in a puppet show art.

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    Traditional music instrument of West Java, Angklung become one of most prestigious culture heritage of Sundanese people. Angklung consists of a frame upon which hang several different lengths of hollow bamboo. Angklungs are played like hand-bells, with each instrument played to a different note. Angklung rattles are played in interlocking patterns, usually with only one or two instruments played per person. The ensemble is used in Sundanese processions, sometimes with trance or acrobatics.

    Performed at life-cycle rituals and feasts (hajat), angklung is believed to maintain balance and harmony in the village. In its most modern incarnation, angklung is performed in schools as an aid to learning about music.

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    Indonesia’s center of pottery and ceramic manufacture, Plered is a small artisan village located minutes from Jatiluhur Lake in the heart of West Java. Villagers have been using traditional methods to create pottery, hand-carved and molded into stunning finished products, from red clay since 1902. Plered’s ceramics have been exported to Australia, America and Europe.

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    Gems Stone

    Gems precious and semiprecious, emerge from Pasekon and Sukaraja villages, near Sukabumi. Workshops there specialize in cutting and polishing jade and opal stones: lapidaries polish the gems to improve their power of reflecting light and suited to exclusive designs and ornaments for earrings, bracelets, necklaces, dress pins and pendants. There are rubies, sapphires, Merah Delima, Batu Kalimaya and valuable quartz settings, along with semiprecious gems, engraved in intaglio or in relief.