Most Indonesian wayang golek wooden puppets have a faint resemblance to real humans.  In my last blog I showed you one example in Putro Wayang Workshop of a Javanese woman puppet that moved toward realism.

Not far from the southern gateway through the fort walls of the Jogjakarta sultan’s palace one comes to Prawirotaman Street—long a famed hangout for backpacker tourists.  But these days there’s an increasing number of higher grade hotels, restaurants & even antique shops on Jalan Prawirotaman.

In our last blog we showed you a Javanese wayang kulit shadow puppet craftsman’s studio in the heart of Jogjakarta's sultan’s palace.  When looking for shadow puppet craftsmen, everyone hears about a couple puppet studios within the palace walls, but we also started hearing about a renowned village shadow puppet studio out in the country.

The island of Java, in Indonesia has been documented to have the most fertile soil in the world. The volcanic soil here grows rice like crazy. Where there’s abundant food people have time to do more than just look for dinner & culture thrives.  

Many Javanese have long been freed up to delve deeply into the arts.  Batik, filigree silver making, ornate wood carving—some of the world’s best of these can be found in Java.  And then, there’s wayang kulit shadow puppet theatre!

A few months ago my wife & I had opportunity to visit world-famous Mount Ijen crater in East Java, Indonesia.  This volcano has been featured on many documentaries & special TV broadcasts.  This is the place where famous French volcanologists Katia & Maurice Krafft dared to float on a highly acidic sulfur crater lake in a rubber raft. 

Every significant town in Java has a bird market.  This is because just about every self-respecting Javanese, Sundanese or Madurese man (the three major ethnic groups of Java) owns at least one pet bird—unless he’s destitute. 

Any visitor to Jogjakarta knows that must see attractions in the region are Borobudur & Prambanan Temples.  But sadly most visitors never know that they should visit Prambanan’s neighbor—Rato Boko’s Palace ruins.

Jogjakarta, in Central Java, Indonesia, may be the world capital of batik textiles, but that’s not the only handicraft that Jogja holds in its cards.  The Javanese are masters of fine detail in all their handcrafts.  So, any visit to Jogja is not complete without a visit to its SE suburb, Kota Gede where Indonesia’s best silversmiths show off their magic.

The Javanese in Indonesia make the world's most intricate wax-masked batik.  Most batik comes from the Javanese artists around Jogjakarta. Some is still done the traditional way—hand-drawn with wax pens by Javanese women batik artists. 

Batik is an almost world-wide phenomena, so everyone thinks they know what it is.  To most people it’s nothing more than highfalutin tie-dyed fabric.  That’s why it’s so hard to get people to appreciate the breathtaking amount of work that goes into Javanese batik.

The Indonesian Javanese villages in the vicinity of Borobudur Buddhist shrine make for fascinating photographs.  If you choose to tour with us next year, you’ll be able to try your hand at shooting the striking village scenes of this culture yourself.

On a bike ride back from shooting the sunrise over Borobudur’s plain we come to a village tofu (tahu in Indonesian) cottage industry.  This is true village life.  Though the owner of this little factory is wealthy, we find bare-bones facilities & skinny village workers.