Indonesian Textiles

Indonesian Textiles

Indonesian Textiles

Indonesian Textiles

Excerpt

The great archipelago that lies between the western tip of Sumatra and the island of New Guinea is called Nusantara in Indonesian. Historically these islands were known to Europeans as the 'Spice Islands', a source of prized cloves and fragrant timbers, part of the fabled East Indies. Foreign merchants often came into contact with Malays, who had established themselves as traders and middlemen throughout much of the region, and consequently the islands are sometimes referred to as the 'Malay Archipelago'. The expression 'Indonesian Archipelago' is today more widely used, not least because the largest state within this region calls itself Indonesia.

The Indonesian Archipelago extends for almost 5,000 kilometres from east to west and — if the Philippines are included — measures approximately 2,000 kilometres from north to south. If placed over a map of Europe this chain of islands would stretch from Dublin to Moscow and could easily cover the United States of America between San Francisco and New York. It includes islands, such as Sumatra and Borneo, which are larger than Britain, as well as islands that are roughly the same size as Ireland — Java and Luzon. Another eighteen islands are on average the size of Jamaica, whereas there are more than a hundred as large as the Isle of Wight; there are thousands of

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