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The Maluku Islands are an archipelago in Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north of Timor. The islands were also historically known as the Spice Islands by the Chinese and Europeans, but this term has also been applied to other islands.

Culture and tradition
Culture and tradition

It was since years ago Maluku was familiar with the art of carving. This can be proven with numbers of wood carved or stone carved for the ancestor's worshiping. Generally, the carving patterns are in the form of human and the placement can be difference according to the purposes. The carving can be placed at the boat prow, at the house front ladder at the village gate or at other special spot.

Earthenware Vessel Art

The work of this art is usually done traditionally in southeast Maluku, the place where can be found lots of clay, a main material for this art. The best season to burn earthenware vessel is during hot season, which is normally in August until October. Forming the earthenware is using arm or other equipment such as wood for example.

If necessary can be colored or carved at the surface, and that also done in a very simple method, which is during the clay still smooth, before burned. The decoration pattern is varying. The earthenware from southeast Maluku for instant, it tends to use straight lines/stripes. While from Aru it is colored with the shape of geometry and shaped by straight lines after the burn.

Weave Art

The southeast Maluku is rich for weave artwork; in fact, it has cultural relationship with its neighbor, eastern southeast Nusa. Yet, not in every island in southeast Maluku this art has its place. To the contrary, in the region where weave art is booming, the carving art is less booming.

The art of weaving in Maluku is using a lot of red, blue, brown or black with thin stripes pattern with or without pattern, for the exchange to be using wide stripes. From the means of work and pattern color, it is obvious that the Maluku weave art has a closed relationship with the wave art from eastern southeast Nusa Tenggara.

Plait Art

Several type of household in southeast Maluku made through plait. Basket, boxes and bags are the items commonly made. They are used for storing and carrying stuff. The fish catcher is also plaited. The plaited material is not always related to the households; however, it can also be used for religion ceremony.

The basic material for plaiting is usually bamboo, rattan or leave from palm tree. Plait artwork consists of various techniques, from a very simple one until a complex one. Women generally are using palm tree, whilst men are using bamboo or rattan. The pattern, which usually applied, is a dancing person, stars, spiral/spring, fish, moons, and even family badge.

Family Hair loom

The beauty of Maluku is also shone from the sparkle of gold jewelry. Tanimbar, Babar and surrounding Kisar have a tradition in gold craft. The gold itself is not mined there. The gold crafter obtains it from the trader who comes from Madagascar, Bugis, and from the Dutch and British at that time.

The gold jewelry usually made in the form of bracelet, earring, crown, head accessories, necklace, clothing accessories as well as plate. The crafter roughs them with various patterns. The pattern can be in the form of stars, animals, human, or art. It indeed represents symbolic purposes. The pattern can also be designed a dead creature.

The gold jewelry represents a distinctive status in the society as what they meant to be. Presently, that gold jewelry remains stored by the inheritance. They are stored and covered in the particular basket. On during certain occasion such religion ceremony. They are disclosed on ritual ceremony. In addition, they can be performed to the interested party with certain sum of money compensation. They are allowed to take picture. However, the person who allowed to wear it only those who inherited those jewelry.


Maluku is rich with cultural tradition. Fortunately, that tradition is remained preserved up to present and still can be enjoyed. Crazy bamboo for example, several people holding bamboo accompanied with local music, swinging, that seems to live and moves itself. The musical instruments are also distinctive from Maluku, such as blowing a shell, tifa and totobuang.

There is also a tradition that takes place after 7 days of Iedul Fitri in Mamala and Morela. The youngster from the village, holding palm leaves rib, hitting to each other. While the scar caused to that, is healed by rubbing particular oil that prepared. Kora-kora race up to present is remained a tradition that never leave behind. It is commenced on April in several villages; it takes more or less 8 km.

The kora-kora race is also meant to commemorate the anniversary of Ambon. There are lots more of tradition, until the customs in the month September in Haruku islands. Wherein the people seek and gather Maleo bird's egg that meant to conserve those species. In traditional dancing, Maluku has several traditional dances, one of them known as Sawat dance. And the dance that popular and known through out the nation and even the first president of Indonesia, Bung Karno, loved it a lot. That is called Lenso dance.

Last revised on May 20, 2011
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