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Batik is one of the Java’s most popular high quality creation. It proudly shows that  Javanese ancestors have a great artistic talent . They have inherited a genuine  and wonderful art  tradition to present generation. Batik is a cloth which traditionally uses a manual wax-resist technique.





Based on scientific evaluation, the ancient Javanese people before the arrival of Hindu culture, they have genuine knowledge of : Batik, wayang, gamelan orchestra, song, astronomy, wet rice cultivation, shipping, foundry, coins and system of government.  They have also mastered  the knowledge of : weaving, dress making, gardening, animal husbandry, fishery, ritual ceremonies etc.





Having high valuable cultural knowledge, the Javanese society can easily adopt cultural influence coming from outside, without losing their own cultural identity. The ancient local tradition is deeply rooted to the heart of the people.

In the old days, batik pattern cloth were primarily used as sarong /long cloth for men and women and head cloth( destar in Javanese language) for men. The traditional  color of batik pattern is brown, indigo, blue and more vivid color.





Nowadays, batik follows the trend of fashion. Batik cloth is made various kinds of products such as  shirt, bag, tie, hat, table cloth, napkin, painting, other decorative items and handicraft.  The artists have for a long time make batik drawings on bamboo and wood as well as on tiles. Batik  silk  is also a favorite amongst Indonesians and foreigners.





Batik is a big industry in Java, many people earn their earning from batik, in the process of production as well as in trading.

The Process of Production

The origin of the word  “ batik “ is Javanese language either from amba( to write) and titik ( dot or point).. Basically, there are two kinds of batik, namely :

Batik Tulis ( hand drawn) and Batik Cap ( stamped). Batik Tulis is a piece of art and the process of making Batik Tulis is much longer than Batik Cap.





Therefore the price of Batik Tulis is much more expensive than Batik Cap. There are fabrics with batik pattern sold in the market, but this product is not  batik as it is not produced using the wax-resist dyeing.

If you wish to make a batik tulis, you have to start with doting  using a canting ( a pen like instrument with a small reservoir of liquid wax), then It is applied to the plain white cloth .

The  first stage of making a batik is tracing the desired design on the prepared cloth followed by applying wax and dye substances.  At the final stage, all wax must be scrapped off and the cloth has to be boiled to remove all traces of the wax. This kind of process of repeatedly waxing and dyeing is the batik process practiced up to now in Java and other parts of Indonesia.





The art of the above process of batik making is indigenous to this country. The wax used in the process is a combined product of paraffin, bees-wax, plant resins called gondorukem and mata kucing.

Batik cap also made with the same process of waxing, but its process is faster and easier. That is why, people appreciate higher batik tulis, as it is a  creation of an artist. Batik Tulis is a combination of expertise, patience and feeling of an artist to make the finest product and it usually takes days, weeks and even months to finish one piece of batik tulis !

Various Batik Designs

Javanese Court Batik

Javanese court batik is the oldest batik known in Java. Its motifs have symbolic meanings.

Surakarta Court Batik is preserved and developed by Surakarta and Mangkunagaran Palaces. The Surakarta or Solo court batik are mainly produced in sub-districts of Laweyan and Kauman. Klewer market is the biggest batik center in the city.





Yogjakarta Court Batik is preserved and fostered by Yogyakarta and Pakualaman Palaces. Kampung Taman is one of the main producer of court batik in Jogjakarta. Beringharjo market in Malioboro street is a retail batik center of Jogjakarta.

The North Coastal Batik

The batik from the north coast of Java is more open to foreign influences in design, color as well as  in motifs. The color is more vibrant,  there  are some influences from traditional Java, China, Arab and Europe in their motifs.

The centers of north coast( Pesisiran in Javanese) are Pekalongan, Cirebon, Lasem and  Madura.
The other batik producers in the country are Garut, Banten, Bali, Jambi, Riau, Palembang and Aceh.

The Symbolic Meaning of Batik Motifs

In the old days in Java, certain patterns of  traditional batik can only be worn by nobility. Certain designs are reserved for bride and groom and their parents. Some patterns are symbols to bring happy life, luck, dignity, prosperity etc. Some patterns are used in traditional ceremonies such as Mitoni, the rite of seventh month pregnancy. The other motifs are :





Truntum, special batik motif worn by the parents of bride and groom depicts parents’ blessing for the new couple to enter a new life with love and confidence and to have luck and prosperity in their life.





Tikel Asmorodono. Tikel means more in Javanese, asmoro means love and dono means to give. It wishes to say that a person who wears batik cloth with the motif of Tikel Asmorodono should be given more and more love by others.





Satrio Wibowo. It depicts a dignified gentleman.





Sido Dadi. It depicts : The wearer’s wish should manifest i.e.  live prosperously, have a high ranking position in the office,  be wealthy,  be respected by people etc. 





Sido Mukti. It symbolizes: The wearer will live with abundant  material wealth. In a wedding ceremony, the bride and groom wear the same batik motif of Sido Mukti symbolizing a happy and prosperous life.






Sido Mulyo. It depicts : The wearer should live a happy and respectable life.

When Batik is worn

Batik dresses are worn for several purposes, such as :

Informal Dresses

Batik can be worn as casual daily dresses. It is a free choice.

Formal Occasions





In some parties such as reception, official banquet etc, the invitees are requested to wear batik. Long sleeves shirt for man and national dress for woman i.e. kebaya , a long sleeved blouse for woman combined with kain batik- a piece of a long dress batik cloth to cover the lower body.

Traditional Occasions

People wear batik in traditional and ritual ceremonies.

Traditional Dress

The traditional dress for women in Jogjakarta and Surakarta court families consist of :

Gelung is a special hairdo for woman.

The pieces of dresses worn consist of :

or Tapih or Sinjang. It is a kain panjang- a piece of long cloth of batik measuring around 2 m x 1 m to cover the lower body used as skirt by wrapping it around the body and  tighten by a stagen, a piece of large and long waist band.

. It is a special design of long sleeved blouse for woman. The material is not batik, it is either from silk or fine material.

Selendang. It is worn as attractive piece of clothing to compliment the traditional dress. The 2m x 0.5 m selendang cloth is hung over on the shoulder.





Kemben or Semekan. It is a special dress to cover the upper part of woman’s body. It is for ceremonies in Karaton/ Royal Palace, instead of kebaya, the women court employees wear kemben or semekan.

Men’s Traditional Dresses





The traditional dresses of man consist of :

Jarit or Bebed. It is a long skirt for man, tightened with a stagen ( a large and long waistband).

Surjan. A Jogjanese traditional long sleeved shirt. The material used for surjan is not batik.





Beskap. A traditional jacket of Solo style. The Jogjanese style is called Atila.

. It is a ready made traditional hat made from batik. The elder style of headgear is destar.

Keris. It is a kris, dagger which is worn at the backside of the waist.





There is a special jarit called dodot. It is a very long jarit with special design. In the old days, it was  worn only by the king in the court ceremony. Nowadays, it is worn in the wedding ceremony by the bride and the groom and it is worn by the bedoyo court dancers. ( Bedoyo dance is a court special dance . It is usually performed to commemorate the inauguration of a king).





UNESCO in October 2, 2009, designated Indonesian Batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Together with wayang and kris, batik is also officially recognized as Indonesian Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Indonesia has to preserve this cultural heritage and will receive assistance from UNESCO.

To be continued.

Suryo S.Negoro
Edited by Arie Suryo