NOW! JAKARTA | Indonesia’s Colourful Markets

Indonesia’s Colourful Markets

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Anywhere in the world, people shop! It does not matter if they are male or female, young or old -  people shop to meet their needs, desires and goals.

Food Vendor, Cikini Traditional market, Central Jakarta.
Photo by Elaine Chan, Debra Cleveland, and Wendy Sinclair/NOW!JAKARTA

Most of us at one time or another must shop to fulfill basic needs of food, shelter and clothing — if not daily, then routinely— unless blessed to have others to perform these chores for us. Some people shop online. Others shop to find that special piece to add to their collection. Many of us shop for a bargain, while others shop for recreation. There are professional shoppers and those who shop for souvenirs or gifts. But in the end, everyone of us, at one time or another, goes shopping for something.

Living in Indonesia means that we have more than shopping malls and online marketing to resort to. Here, we have the opportunity to shop in traditional markets known as pasar tradisional. These markets are an adventure in culture, colours, sounds, smells, tastes and much more! Depending on your intended goal, it can be an educational experience, for the vendors will display vast varieties of fish, meat, vegetables, textiles, handicrafts, rocks and almost anything else you could desire.

It is entertaining to watch people as they bargain with the vendors. For photographers, there are endless sights to capture. For the hungry, there are both food products to procure for cooking and food items ready to eat or drink. Tourists can find local products to bring home as souvenirs of this varied and fascinating culture. Everyone can find something to tickle their fancy and induce them to purchase...

Buffalo Market. Photo by Elaine Chan, Debra Cleveland, and Wendy Sinclair/NOW!JAKARTA
Dry Fish for Sale.Photo by Elaine Chan, Debra Cleveland, and Wendy Sinclair/NOW!JAKARTA

Take the fish market, or pasar ikan, as an example. One will find fish on ice, fish in water buckets, or dried fish. You have more choices of different kinds of fish than in most Western food markets. If you prefer fruits and vegetables, the local markets come in numerous sizes. The vast abundance of produce is a treat for the senses with a bounty of options—peppers, shallots, chilies, pumpkins, coconuts, many kinds of bananas, leafy greens, durian, jackfruit, and so much more.

Jakarta's traditional markets are an adventure in culture, colours, sounds, smells, tastes and much more! Depending on your intended goal, it can be an educational experience, for the vendors will display vast varieties of fish, meat, vegetables, textiles, handicrafts, rocks and almost anything else you could desire.

Textile markets are the place to find the UNESCO-recognized cultural heritage of Indonesia. As is well known, the kind of textile you will find depends on the island you are visiting. There are numerous kinds of batik, ikat, ulos, songket, tenun and more! Today you will find traditional motifs or patterns as well as modern ones. You may even find vintage pieces. The motifs once were a signal of who you were, where you lived, your social status and the occasion you were dressed for. Some were restricted to nobility or to particular classes, but today many people are no longer informed about nor constrained by the rules of days gone by.

Of course, there are also animal markets in Indonesia as there are in countries around the world. Birds are popular for their colour and sound. There are animals one would like to have as pets. Many are intended for religious ceremonies. The bull market in Toraja is a major cultural site, as the bulls represent wealth at funerals.

Vegetable and Spice Stall at Pasar Mayestik, South Jakarta. 
Photo by Elaine Chan, Debra Cleveland, and Wendy Sinclair/NOW!JAKARTA 

The traditional markets are very much ingrained in Indonesian culture and should not be missed. This is why the Indonesian Heritage Society (IHS) chose pasars as the theme for its 2018 photo competition. There were almost 90  submissions by IHS members, which were judged by three professional photographers—Gregorius Bhisma, Bill McCarthy, and Melbourne Smith — before an IHS trustee selected 13 images for the 2019 IHS calendar. The photographs were displayed in the lobby of Sentral Senayan 1 during the week of February 24 to March 2 and can be viewed in the IHS library from March through June or on the IHS Facebook page. The photographs, as well the IHS calendar, are available for purchase.

 

 

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Text by Maribeth Peller. This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine March 2018 issue “Design for Living”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.


The Indonesian Heritage Society Library

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