KlotokKlotok Waves


Embark on a fantastical journey as you discover the heritage and culture of the Banjarese in Singapore. Immerse yourself in the experience. Let the sights inspire curiosity and stories spark imagination. Delight awaits you with each swipe.

The Banjarese descended from the Dayak, Malay and Javanese inhabitants of South Kalimantan. They make up one of Singapore’s smallest sub-ethnic Malay communities.
Hop on the klotok. Where will you go?
The river whispers: Go with the flow…

Nature. It’s in our Nature

From livelihoods that flow with the rivers running through Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan, Indonesia) to houses and textiles adorned with motifs such as snakes and stars, Banjarese culture is innately intertwined with their natural environment.

The klotok is a motorised boat that is designed to manoeuvre Banjarmasin’s shallow and narrow waterways. It is a common mode of transport, and one that ferries you on this journey.
Hear the melodies playing in the distance.
Old and new, a harmonious co-existence.

Music is Instrumental

Music plays an important role in any culture. For the Banjarese, it is central to celebrations, performances, and general listening pleasure. What is unique, however, is how it developed its distinctive style—with Javanese influences, and roots dating back to the Majapahit empire between the 14th and 16th century.

The Panting and Gamelan Banjar are traditional instruments that can be played solo or as part of an ensemble. The guitar-like Panting is believed to be native to Kalimantan. The Gamelan Banjar shares similarities with the Javanese version, with the primary difference being that it is made mostly of iron.
They celebrate the occasion, dancing away.
Graceful stories unfold with each bob and sway.

Moving Stories

Every dance performed is a story told. Some speak of myths and legends, while others are offered as thanksgiving or prayer. Once reserved for royalty, dance performances are now often used to celebrate weddings and welcome honoraries.

This is the ninth instalment of Lintas Nusantara, an annual dance festival that celebrates heritage across the Nusantara, performed by talents from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Do you see something sparkling over there?
Look closer, precious stones are sprinkled everywhere.

A Brilliant History

The Banjarese are known for more than their distinct houses, unique melodies, and soulful dances. They are renowned for gemstones (most notably diamonds), their most precious export, which they used for bartering, and as tribute to rulers of other kingdoms. It is said that Banjarese diamonds have an exquisite shine that was highly sought after.

The Banjarmasin Diamond

The largest diamond found in the region was an uncut 77-carat stone, which was seized by the Dutch then cut and polished to a brilliant 40-carat artefact. It is still on display at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
The sun is setting and the stomach grows hungry.
The loud rumbling turned out to be your tummy.

A Taste of Tradition

Banjarese cuisine draws from the culinary histories of the Dayak, Malay, Javanese and Dutch. This melting pot of influences makes Banjarese cuisine rich and varied. Kuih in particular is a speciality, namely the Talam Banjar and Bingka Ubi, which you can learn more by watching the videos.

Banjarese cuisine isn’t well documented, and is often passed down verbally from generation to generation. It is unfortunate that it cannot be found in more restaurants or shops.
The stars pepper the dark sky.
You ask for a story, with a twinkle in your eye.

Once Upon a Night

When it gets dark, imagination comes out to play. Mythical characters and fantastic fables take the form of stories passed down from generation to generation—the most famous ones transform into shadow figures and take to the stage to put on a thrilling performance.

Wayang Banjar may have originated from Java, but it has since developed its distinct style of music, as well as a unique performance repertoire.
To a Lion City, we set sail.
When we reach land, we will tell our tale.

Trading Places

The Banjarese who came to Singapore were involved in the import and export of precious stones. With diamonds making up a large part of their business, they grew their fortune by providing specialised services in diamond cutting, polishing, and jewellery designing to sell to the discerning in Singapore.

Banjarmasin was a thriving port. Its access to open waters and natural resources created a cosmopolitan marketplace visited by merchants from neighbouring cities. It was through this exposure and interaction that the diamond trade likely found its way to Singapore.

Planting Roots, Sprouting Shoots

The Banjarese who came to Singapore in the later part of the 19th century associated themselves with a trading or religious family legacy. First- and second-generation migrants who settled in Singapore’s early precincts also developed deep connections to the kampung and neighbourhoods they grew up in.

Early Banjarese who came to Singapore settled in the Eastern coastal areas. Those who fished built rumah panggung (houses on stilts) in Changi Beach, East Coast Park and Geylang Serai. The more entrepreneurial Banjarese opted for shophouses in Kampung Gelam, where they conducted their business.

Festival Highlights