List of Indonesian inventions and discoveries

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Indonesians has developed a long tradition of fermentation technique, among others are tempeh, oncom, tuak, brem and tapai.

This list of Indonesian inventions and discoveries details the indigenous arts and techniques, cultural inventions, scientific discoveries and contributions of the people of Indonesian archipelago — both ancient and modern state of Indonesia.

Since ancient times, native Indonesians has accumulated knowledge and developed technology stemmed from necessities; from naval navigation knowledge, traditional shipbuilding technology, textile techniques, food processing to vernacular house building. Notable examples include jong, pinisi, perahu, Borobudur ship and sandeq vessels. In textile production, batik, ikat and songket were developed extensively by Indonesians. Living in tropical hot and humid environs, Indonesians also has developed the knowledge on food processing technology, especially fermentation, owed to the abundance of mold and fungi species in the region. Notable example includes tempeh, oncom, tuak, brem and tapai. In traditional art and entertainment, Indonesians has developed wayang kulit shadow theatre, various dance drama also gamelan orchestra.

The scientific pursuit, technical improvement and technological innovation are continuously developed to this day, among other by institution such as Indonesian Institute of Sciences. Indonesia has a number of industries that producing various advanced technology tools and vehicles; from shipbuilding to weaponry, armoured car to aeroplane. Today, Indonesia has developed their own aviation technology, with the development of CN-235, N-219 and N-250.

Arts and entertainment[edit]

Wayang Purwa type, depicting five Pandawa, from left to right: Bimo, Arjuna, Yudhishthira, Nakula, and Sahadewa at the Indonesia Museum in Jakarta.
  • Wayang, a form of traditional puppet theatre found in Indonesia.[1] Variants including wayang kulit shadow play and wayang golek.
  • Wayang orang, a type of classical Javanese dance drama theatrical performance with themes taken from episodes of the Ramayana or Mahabharata.[2]
  • Topeng, Indonesian mask dance-drama in which one or more mask-wearing, ornately costumed performers interpret traditional narratives concerning fabled kings, heroes and myths, accompanied by gamelan music.
  • Barong, Balinese lion dance, Barong is a lion-like creature and character in the mythology of Bali. The battle between Barong and Rangda is featured in Barong dance to represent the eternal battle between good and evil.[3]
  • Ondel-ondel, a large Betawi puppet folk performance, is about 2.5 meters tall with ± 80 cm diameter, made of woven bamboo where human can fit into it. The word ondel-ondel refers to both the performance and the puppet.
  • Javanese dance, the dances and art forms that were created and influenced by Javanese culture.[4]
  • Balinese dance, an ancient dance tradition that is part of the religious and artistic expression among the Balinese people of Bali. Balinese dance is dynamic, angular and intensely expressive.[4]
  • Kecak, a form of Balinese dance and music drama that was developed in the 1930s in Bali. Formed as a coordinated chants and arm movements.[5]
  • Saman, a intricately choreographed dance of thousand hands of Gayo ethnic group, Aceh.[6]
  • Ketoprak, a theatrical genre of Java featuring actors who may also sing to the accompaniment of the gamelan. It draws its stories from Javanese history and romances, invented as recent as 1923.[7]
  • Sandiwara, a genre of traditional theatrical drama of Indonesia. In general, it refer to any kinds of drama or theatrical performances, and literally sandiwara means "to pretend" or "to act". However, the term is often used to describe a genre of traditional drama of West Java, with notable example include the once famous Sandiwara Miss Tjitjih.[8]


Gamelan Son of Lion, a Javanese-style iron American gamelan based in New York City that is devoted to new music, playing in SoHo, Manhattan.


The Surakarta board game.
  • Congklak, a mancala game played in Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. Although the origin is obscure, the oldest tradition of similar game can be traced to Javanese dakon with pitmarked stones from the bronze-Iron Age period of Indonesia.
  • Galasin, or galah asin or gobak sodor, traditional Indonesian games.
  • Surakarta (game), an Indonesian strategy board game for two players, named after the ancient city of Surakarta in central Java. The game features an unusual method of capture which is unique and not known in any other board game.[14][15]

Clothing and fashion[edit]

Contemporary batik fashion in Indonesia
  • Batik, is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, often uses canting as a tool to apply liquid hot wax to create motifs. Although similar wax-resist technique are found in several countries, the batik of Indonesia, however, may be the best-known.[16]
  • Songket, is a hand-woven in silk or cotton, and intricately patterned with gold or silver threads. Indonesia perhaps has the richest tradition of this brocade weaving art.[17]
  • Ikat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. The ikat tradition is especially prevalent in Central and Eastern Indonesia, especially in Sumba, Flores and Timor island.
  • Tapis, a traditional weaving style from Lampung, Indonesia. The word tapis also refers to the resulting cloth. It consists of a striped, naturally-coloured cloth embroidered with warped and couched gold thread.
  • Ulos, a traditionally hand-woven cotton fabrics, and intricately patterned, specific to Batak tribes of North Sumatra usually slung over the shoulder during traditional occasions.
  • Kebaya, a traditional blouse-dress, the national costume of Indonesia, although it is more accurately endemic to the Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese peoples.[18]
  • Sarong, a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist.
  • Peci, a cap widely worn in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, mostly among Muslim males. in Indonesia the peci can also be associated with the nationalist secular movement.[19]
  • Indonesian traditional men headgears, various traditional Indonesian hats, headgears or headdress wore by Indonesian men in traditional settings. Notable examples include Javanese blangkon, Sundanese iket, Acehnese kupiah, Malay tanjak, Balinese udeng, and Dayak beluko.

Construction and civil engineering[edit]

Prambanan temple of ancient Java, demonstrate the technical mastery of stone masonry in Hindu temple architecture.
  • Rumah adat, various indigenous technique of carpentry, wood carving and stone masonry employed in constructing traditional houses of vernacular Indonesian architecture. Notable example includes tongkonan, rumah gadang, omo sebua, joglo and pura.
  • Candi, stone temple architecture developed in ancient Java circa 7th or 8th century. It employs an intricate system of interlocked stone masonry, knobs, indentations and dovetails, and corbelling method.[20]
  • Sosrobahu, a road and bridge construction technique which twist the concrete beam shoulder of the supporting pylon, which allows long stretches of flyovers to be constructed above existing main roads with a minimum of disruption to the traffic, designed by Tjokorda Raka Sukawati.[21]
  • Cakar ayam construction, or literally means "chicken claw construction" is a technical engineering to create a more stable foundation by employing concrete plate supported by pipes planted deep into the ground acted as "claws", invented by Prof. Dr. Ir. Sedijatmo in 1961. The technique is applied on structures, roads and runways. The technical principle consist of a concrete plate foundation is supported and secured to the ground by pipes as "claws", which allowed a more stable construction, enable to build structure on soft wet ground such as on swamps. The technique allowed the structure to be more rigid, stable and more durable against uneven weight distribution or uneven land declining.[22]


  • Arisan, a form of Rotating Savings and Credit Association in Indonesian culture, a form of Microfinance.[23]
  • Piggy bank, known as celengan[n 1] in Indonesian, it is a boar-shaped terracotta figurine with a slit hole used to insert, collect and store coins. Despite piggy bank was probably a result of parallel development in several places around the world, one of the oldest manifestation of pig-shaped money box is dated from Majapahit period, in Java circa 14th century.[24]
  • Warung, a type of small Indonesian family-owned business — often a casual shop, a modest small restaurant or café.[25] There are many kinds of warung, some take the form of a small shop that sells cold bottled drinks, candy, cigarettes, snacks, kue, krupuk and other daily necessities, while the larger ones are small restaurant establishments.

Food processing and cuisine[edit]

Detail of bright-colored oncom mold, Neurospora intermedia.


Nagarakretagama palm-leaf manuscript.

Medicine, health and biology[edit]

Traditional herbal jamu in bottles.
  • Jamu, Indonesian traditional herbal medicine indigenous to Java.[43]
  • Lulur, Javanese topical herbal lotion applied upon skin believed to enhance smoothness and beauty. Today, it is commonly practiced and offered as one of spa treatment in Indonesia.
  • Kerokan, is a traditional Javanese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce red-colored light bruising. Practitioners believe kerokan releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing. It is believed that the practice derived from Chinese Gua sha.
  • Puskesmas, (Indonesian: Pusat Kesehatan Masyarakat) are government-mandated community health clinics located across Indonesia. It improves the health quality of common Indonesian people by extend the reach of health service, promoting hygiene and sanitation, family planning, maternal health on childbirth, also infants immunization.
  • Info-Bidan, information technology for Indonesian midwives via SMS. This information technology is devised to assist bidan (midwives) during childbirth to avoid maternal mortality.[44]

Philosophy, ideology, politics and social sciences[edit]

Symbols of Pancasila
  • Pancasila, the official, foundational philosophical theory of the Indonesian state.[45] This pluralist political stance was meant as a compromise to provide the moderate middleground among ideological-political spectrums — between leftist socialist and rightist nationalist religious (esp. Islamic element).
  • Marhaenism, a socialistic political ideology developed by the first President of Indonesia, Sukarno.[46]
  • Nasakom, a political concept during the Sukarno presidency in Indonesia. It is an acronym based on the Indonesian words NASionalisme ('nationalism'), Agama ('religion'), and KOMunisme ('communism').[47][48]
  • Gotong royong, or "working together", a concept of indigenous communal work derived from traditional Indonesian community.
  • Islam Nusantara, a distinctive brand of empirical Islam developed in Nusantara (Indonesian archipelago) since the 16th century. The main traits of Islam Nusantara are tawasut (moderate), rahmah (compassionate), anti-radical, inclusive and tolerant. Islam Nusantara is a result of interaction, contextualization, indigenization, interpretation and vernacularization of universal Islamic values, according to socio-cultural reality of Indonesia. The term was proposed and promoted by Indonesian Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama, as an alternative for interpretation on global Islam that mainly dominated by Arabic or Middle Eastern perspectives.[49]
  • Shiva-Buddha, a syncretic Hindu-Buddhist religious doctrine developed in ancient Java during the Singhasari and Majapahit period (13th to 15th century). The doctrine advocate for the oneness of dharma and promote religious tolerance between Shivaist and Buddhist in ancient Java. Notable literary work including Sutasoma, written by Tantular circa late 14th century. The Candi Jawi is an example of Shiva-Buddha syncretic temple.[50]


  • Pencak Silat, a class of related traditional Indonesian martial arts.[51] It is a full-body fighting form incorporating strikes, grappling and throwing in addition to weaponry. Every part of the body is used and subject to attack. Pencak silat was practiced not only for physical defense but also for psychological ends.[52]
  • Tarung Derajat, a full body contact hybrid martial art from West Java, Indonesia, created by Haji Achmad Dradjat.[53] He developed the techniques through his experience as a street fighter during the 1960s in Bandung. Tarung Derajat is officially recognized as a national sport and used as a basic martial art training for the Indonesian Armed Forces and Indonesian National Police.
  • Sepak takraw, kick rattan ball sport native to Southeast Asia.[54] Started as traditional game, today sepak takraw has been developed as competitive sport, shared with Malaysia and Thailand.
  • Indonesian animal racing, various animal racing in Indonesia are notably for ethnic cultural purpose and traditional sport, while contesting animal such as cow, buffalo, goat, horse, boar, duck, pigeon, and rabbit. Famous examples include Karapan sapi, Pacu jawi, Pacu itiak.[55]

Technology, information, physics[edit]

  • Go-Jek, an Indonesian hyperlocal transport, logistics and payments startup founded in 2010.
  • Tokopedia, Indonesia’s biggest online marketplaces startup, launched in 2009.
  • Blibli, another Indonesia's online marketplace.
  • Bukalapak, another Indonesia's online marketplace.
  • Dual Fast Fourier transform applied in 4G LTE technology, discovered by Khoirul Anwar.[56]
  • Abbreviated Epitaxial Growth Mode (AGM), method for reducing cost and improving quality of LEDs and lasers, patented by Nelson Tansu.[57]
  • Motorcycle portable refrigerator, a cooling system to refrigerate the transported seafood using the exhaust gas from motorcycle tailpipe. The amonia from the exhaust and water fueled a generator which vaporize the chemical and separate it from the water molecules. The ammonia is then channeled to a condenser, where the vapor will turn into liquid, and flows into an evaporator. The mixture of ammonia and water vapor to produce the cooling solution for the system.[58]
  • Gel-coated helmet or cooling helmet, a helmet that gives cool sensation to the wearer’s head using gel chemical. The helmet interior is layered with heat insulation material. Invented by a young Indonesian student, Linus Nara Pradhana.[59]
  • Bioplastic cassava, a biodegradable plastics made from cassava starch. Invented by Enviplast in Jakarta.[60][61]


Drawing of a Pinisi of Lamba type and N-250 Indonesian aircraft.

Weapons and military[edit]

Majapahit Cetbang cannon, collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • Kris, asymmetrical wavy blade indigenous to Indonesia, especially Java island. It has distinctive blade-patterning achieved through alternating laminations of iron and nickelous iron (pamor).[67]
  • Karambit, a small Indonesian curved knife resembling a claw. In Indonesia mostly associated with Silek Minangkabau (West Sumatran Silat).[68]
  • Golok, a blade similar to a machete, that comes in many variations and is found throughout the Indonesian archipelago.[69]
  • Kujang, a blade weapon native to the Sundanese people of western Java.
  • Parang, a type of machete or cleaver used across Indonesian archipelago.
  • Celurit, a sickle with a pronounced crescent-blade patterns which curves more than half a circle and a long handle, is widely used for agricultural purposes and also in Pencak Silat.
  • Cetbang, a type of bronze breech-loading cannon produced and used by Majapahit Empire (1296-1520 CE) and other kingdoms in Nusantaran archipelago.[70]
  • Lantaka, a type of bronze swivel gun mounted on merchant vessels travelling the waterways of Malay Archipelago. Its use was greatest in precolonial Southeast Asia especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.
  • Pindad SPR, a series of sniper rifle produced by PT. Pindad, Indonesia.
  • Stun shoes, electroshock weapon in the guise of woman's shoes invented by Hibar Syahrul Gafur. Electric shock were delivered through a kick. It was meant as a self-defense tool for women against violence or sexual attack.[71]
  • Anoa armoured personnel carrier, a 6x6 armoured personnel carrier developed by PT Pindad of Indonesia.[72]
  • Wulung military drone, a military drone made by PT Dirgantara Indonesia.[73]


Kreteks from the 1910s, containing resin, nutmeg, cumin, clove, and tobacco wrapped in banana leaves.
  • Subak, the paddy fields irrigation system of Bali, which includes water temples, rice terraces, and a whole ecological and socio-cultural aspects of traditional Balinese agricultural community.[74]
  • Kretek, is an aromatic cigarette made with a blend of tobacco, cloves and other flavors. This Indonesian cigarette was developed in 19th century Central Java. The word "kretek" itself is an onomatopoetic term for the crackling sound of burning cloves.[75]
  • Penile insertions, is an insertion or implant of objects into the penis skin fold. The objects might be metal ball bearings, semi-precious stones, to gold balls or bars. The purpose either as a tool to enhance sexual pleasure for sexual partner, or as amulets. Historically the practice was widely found in Indonesian archipelago, with oldest archaeological evidence found in sculpture of balled lingam and erect penis of Sukuh temple in Java, dated from Majapahit period.[76]
  • Kite, the oldest kite in the world was invented by Muna people in southeast Sulawesi. Dubbed as kaghati, oldest depiction of this kite is from 9,000 B.C., predating Chinese kite by 9,500 years.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A cèlèng is a wild boar, with the "an" affix used to denote a likeness


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