Indonesie - Museum Volkenkunde
Permanent exhibition


Imposing temple bells and powerful krises

More than 300 peoples live in Indonesia, each with their own language and culture. The archipelago lies at the crossroads of key trading routes and as such has been exposed to centuries of influences and religions from both East and West. After Hinduism and Buddhism came Islam and Christianity.

The main religion today is Islam, but the tradition of venerating one’s ancestors as sources of protection and fertility still plays an important role. This veneration is expressed through statues, masks and ritual objects. Similarly krises, batik and Wajang still form part of living traditions.

Garuda statue

In September last year, the famous Singosari statues, originally from a temple near Singhasari in Java, were removed from Wereldmuseum Leiden and returned to the state of Indonesia. Recently, the empty space was filled in with this magnificent masterpiece: a Garuda statue. In Hinduism, Garuda is a mythical creature with physical characteristics of a human and a bird of prey. After Garuda is born, he finds out that snakes are trapping his mother. With the help of the god Vishnu, he manages to free her and, out of gratitude, Garuda becomes Vishnu's riding animal. Garuda is depicted on Balinese and Javanese shrines and objects and on the logo of the national airline of that name. Since Indonesia's independence in 1945, Garuda has been part of the national coat of arms, making the bird a symbol of Indonesia. This sculpture was probably made for a public space.

Beeld Garuda
Maker onbekend; Bali, Indonesië; rond 1985; hout, verf; TM-5113-192a

The collection of dolls of Queen Wilhemina

Dutch Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1952) was given a collection of dolls for her thirteenth birthday. The 350 dolls were meant to give her an idea of Indonesia’s different peoples. The collection was first exhibited in Batavia (today’s Jakarta) before being put on show to the Dutch public at the Kneuterdijk Palace in The Hague. The exhibition’s proceeds were used to finance scientific expeditions to Central Kalimantan. The collection of dolls was gifted to the Wereldmuseum Leiden in 1894 as a ‘tangible contribution to the knowledge  about Indonesia’ .



To view the entire Indonesia collection online, click here.