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Batik: From Traditional Goes International.

Updated on January 25, 2016

Brief History of Batik.

Batik making is a hundred-year-old tradition in Indonesia, especially in Yogjakarta, Solo and in some other cities along north coast of Java.

Although there's no certain information as where batik first originally came from, many historians believed that batik brought to Asia regions by travelers from Indian subcontinent then batik reached its highest artistic expression after its development in Indonesia.

In its early development batik was worn by royal court (Keraton) only, thanks to social changes in javanese society so that all walk of people could eventually wear batik.

Batik Designs

Although there are many different kinds of batik designs, in general batik designs are devided into 2 kinds: Geometric designs and Non geometric or free designs. Certain designs which come from northern coast of Java, particularly from Pekalongan and Cirebon, are known for the influence of Chinese culture and clouds motifs in their designs. Batik in geometric motifs are generally divided into the following popular designs:

P a r a n g.

Parang design was once used exclusively by royal courts of Cetral Java. Parang means " blade or knife", so this design consists of slanting rows of knife-like segments running in parallel diagonal bands. Parang design is usually alternated with narrower bands in a darker contrasting color in which another motif called mlinjon is located.

Parang design has several variations with the most famous one is called Parang Rusak, a motif consists of folded parangs.

Parang Rusak Design
Parang Rusak Design

K a w u n g.

Kawung motif is a very old design known since the thirteenth century. Basically this design consists of intersecting circles. As the name suggests,  Kawung represents florals such as the fruits of kapok or the sugar palm or Aren. Kawung design was historically reserved for Royal court of the Sultan of Yogjakarta only.

Kawung design.
Kawung design.
Kawung Picus design.
Kawung Picus design.
Ceplok design.
Ceplok design.

C e p l o k.

Ceplok is a general name of designs belong to geometric paterns which basically consist of squares, rhombs, circles, stars, etc. Ceplok can also represent stylization of flowers, buds, seeds, and animals. Illusion of depth and other effects in ceplok motifs can be resulted from variation in color intensity. Influences from muslim culture in potraying animals and human forms have brought some modifications which are depicted in Ceplok design.

Sido Mulyo motif.
Sido Mulyo motif.

Some Philosophies Behind Batik.

Based on their motifs, especiallya in old batik designs, batiks also has some catagories which determine philosophies behind each motif.

1. Sidomulyo motif: It symbolizes this batik wearer should be (sido) happy  and rich (mulyo).

2. Sidodadi motif: A motif which symbolizes the wearer wishes (to be prosperous, rich and get high position) may be granted.

3. Satriowibowo motif: It symbolizes a man with dignity.

4. Tikel Asmorodono motif: Symbosizes more and more (tikel) love (asmoro) and gift (dono) be

lavished to the wearer.

5. Sidomukti: This motif, which means "Live in full of prosperity and hapiness" is normally worn

by a bride and a groom in wedding ceremony.

Truntum Design
Truntum Design

Occasions When People Wear Batik.

Batik is very popular among Indonesian, not to mention special occasions which need attire.

There are some occasions where batik is commonly worn :

1. Formal occasions, such as wedding reception, state banquettes, parties, etc. In this occasions invitees are required to wear long-sleeved batik for men and batik dress to cover lower body for women.

2. Traditional occasions. One example of this occasions is Javanese wedding ceremony and its reception party. Bride and groom wear batik in Sido Mukti motif symbolizing happiness and prosperous life. Parents of the bride and groom wear batik in Truntum motif to symbolize their advise to the newly weds for entering their new life with full of love and confidence.

3. Semi Formal occasions. Occasions like thanks giving, luncheon, circumcision reception at the neighborhood, etc are not so formal but not informal either. For attending such occasions, it is considered appropriate to wear short-sleeved batik shirt.

Batik as Indonesia's Cultural Heritage.

UNESCO has finally named batik as Indonesian Cultural Heritage in October 2nd, 2009. There had been a long and complex process for Indonesian batik to get the recognition. Extensive academic research had to be conducted to win this invaluable achievement amidst another country's similar attempt to be recognized as the true right proprietor of batik artistic creations.

It has been a great accomplishment that all Indonesians should be grateful.

Some Tips to Make Batik Long-Lasting.

1. Batik should't be washed using detergent.

You'd better use a fruit which is locally called Lerak or Klerek or soapnuts.(latin: Sapindus rarak) Crush one soapnut in some water then you can use the water for washing batik.

If your batik is made of silk material, you should dry wash it.

2. Hang batik promptly on a hanger.

Don't squeeze it too strong (one or two gentle presses is enough).

3. Don't dry batik under direct sun.

The sun heat will fade the color of batik, so just dry batik in shady places with good ventilation.

4. Iron batik indirectly.

Use a lining cloth over the batik being ironed.

Sapindus rarak (soapnuts) for washing batik.
Sapindus rarak (soapnuts) for washing batik.


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    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Batik clothing is also popular here in the Philippines. I even own malong pants with batik prints.:)

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Wow! I never knew any of this. I have always thought batik was beautiful, but what a fascinating history.

      Thanks for sharing it.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 7 years ago from Indonesia

      @Truckstop Sally: Thank you for nice comments. I got batik making as extracurricular at school and it taught me to become to be more patient.

      @UniquelyIndonesia: Welcome to HP. I hope you'll get a lot of success here and share knowledge in writing well with me and other hubbers. Thank you very much.

    • UniquelyIndonesia profile image

      UniquelyIndonesia 7 years ago from Indonesia, South East Asia

      Greetings agusfanani,,, what a great hubs you have. I hope i can learn a lot from you, about hubpages, and hope you could share some stories and comments about Indonesia globally. I'm a newbie, who also try to publish what is the uniqueness in indonesia nation-wide. Hope we could get together here as an indonesian people,,,,

      thanks yaa,,,

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 7 years ago

      Thanks for the information and sharing the beautiful designs. My mother actually created some batik patterns when she was an art student/hippie.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 7 years ago from Indonesia

      @Peggy W : soapnuts grow on a tall tree which can be around 40 meters tall.

      @emilia : Thank you for your visit, I like batik very much too.

    • profile image

      emilia 7 years ago

      im very like it btik,because that is tradisional indonesia.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Do the soapnuts grow on a shrub or a tree? Just curious...

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 8 years ago from Indonesia

      @GeneralHowitzer:Thanks GeneralHowitzer for your encouragement and comments.

      @PeggyW: Thank you. Yes soapynuts produces soapy liquid which is widely used for washing batik by batik lovers.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      It certainly is a beautifully decorated fabric. Those soap nuts are interesting. They create a soapy or sudsy liquid in which to wash the fabric? I think of most nuts as having interiors that are hard.

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 8 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      Wnderful jon here agusfanani... You are truly full of potential to enter as HubNugget wannabe... Keep it up... Very informative hub you have here though... Warm Welcome to the HP...

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 8 years ago from Indonesia

      Thank you for reading and comenting my hub, pak Syur.

    • profile image

      syuryadi helpi 8 years ago

      it's a great article .I have enjoyed wearing batik for a long time but i have just known those names . i agree that batik deserves an international recognition .

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 8 years ago from Indonesia

      Thank you Pak, You're right that batik deserved such recognition from the world thanks to our ancestor creative work.

    • Bbudoyono profile image

      Bbudoyono 8 years ago

      when I worked as a tourist guide once I observed the statue of Syiwa Mahadewa in the main chamber of Prambanan temple. The clothes in lower part of it, is decorated with ornaments similar to the above ones. I believe this is a proof that Batik existed in Java since at least 9th century.


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