What is Pertiwi?

Pertiwi (Sanskrit: Prithvi) is a goddes in Hindu, “Ibu Bumi” (in Indonesia), “Mother Earth” (in English).

Pertiwi is a national personification of Indonesia, the allegory of Tanah Air (Indonesian: land and water), the Indonesian Motherland. Since prehistoric times the tribes of the Indonesian archipelago often revered earth and nature spirits as a life giving mother, a female deity of nature. After the adoption of Hinduism in the early first millennium, this Mother figure was identified with Prithvi, the Hindu mother goddess of Earth, who was thus given the name “Pertiwi”.

Ibu Pertiwi is also a popular theme in Indonesian patriotic songs and poems and was mentioned in several of them, such as the song “Ibu Pertiwi” and “Indonesia Pusaka” . In the national anthem “Indonesia Raya” the lyrics “Jadi pandu ibuku” (“Become the scout/guide for my mother”) is a reference to Ibu Pertiwi as the mother of Indonesian people. Despite her popularity in patriotic songs and poems, her physical representations and images are rare.


Prithvi Ibu Pertiwi statue at Monas
Prithvi Ibu Pertiwi statue at Monas

The image of a woman or a goddess in ancient regal attire at Indonesian National Monument (Monas), Jakarta. It is probably the popular depiction of Ibu Pertiwi in Indonesia.