Baskets come in all sizes and shapes but do you know what they are made of and how?

When you see baskets at the market in Bali, you will almost certainly come across these ones.

Balinese usually use ‘ingka’ as a substitute for plates in many ceremonies, in warungs and restaurants, and at parties in their homes including wedding celebrations. The ingka has a similar form and function to a plate.

Ingka look like a very shallow basket made from spine of ivory-colored coconut leaves. The spines are woven into a plate shape. On the average, one ingka needs more than a hundred coconut leaf spines.

These coconut leaf spines are not at all difficult to find on the island even though they are also used in making offerings to sew the green coconut leaf baskets used for offerings of flowers and food. Bali has an abundance of materials to make Ingka.

Originally ingka was only used in traditional ceremonies as a plate for the offerings. But more recently Balinese use them interchangeably with china and glass plates.

Making ingka is a home industry in small villages that provides a good source of income for Balinese women. Ingka is not just used in Bali but also in big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya.

Balinese restaurants which are located outside of Bali usually use ingka to give a sense of Balinese to the restaurant, it gives it a Balinese character.

The sense of natural simplicity which is given by using ingka can not be produced by other kinds of plates.

Ingka are also far more practical than other kinds of plates. In preparing and carrying out a religious ceremony with up to hundreds or even thousands of helpers, these guests and helpers have to be fed and it will be a huge task to wash all the plates that are used by them. This problem is solved with ingka; other plates need to be washed after using, ingka does not.

Ingka are used by placing a square of banana leaf or paper on top and then the food is placed on the banana leaf or paper.

As a result, after you finish eating, all you have to do throw the paper or the banana leaf into the trash can.

Then the ingka can be stored and reused with a fresh piece of banana leaf or paper without any washing.

So simple and practical! They are so easy to buy in Bali.

Remember if you don't have easy access to banana leaf (which really is the first choice for lining them) then you can easily substitute paper or even a strong paper napkin as a liner.

Trays are also traditionally made in the same shape as shown here. The one shown would also be used as a daily offering carrier as the householder distributes and blesses the daily offerings around the house compound.

Something you see every day in Bali!

Baskets like these ingka would be a great thing to buy while you are in Bali. They are cheap, easily pack together and contribute to a nutural lifestyle with a rustic look, yet ever so practical.

Alternatively if you are not coming to Bali anytime soon, order some baskets from us here and arrange payment by Paypal. We will be happy to help.

Remember postage will add to the cost but they are not too heavy.

Read more about Balinese baskets.