Batik, Indonesia’s Heritage

“Batik” is from Javanese language which comes from words “amba”, means “writing”, and “titik”, means “dot”.


History of Batik

Batik in Indonesia, have been known from XVII century, written and painted on lontar leafs. At that day, most of batik’s motifs are animals and plants. Time goes by and the motifs have developed into abstract motifs such as cloud, temple’s relief, wayang, etc.

In Indonesia, batik has been believed from Majapahit kingdom (one of Indonesian’s kingdoms which had been at XIV century). It was  batik tulis (a written batik) until early XX century and then the new batik, batik cap, have been knew after World War I or about 1920.

At the beginning, batik had been used limited by kingdom family only, by the King, King’s family and the followers. Because of the followers most come from the outside kingdom, the art of batik have been started to be recognized by many ordinary folk.

Times goes by. Batik which first just been made by kingdom, later the women made it by them selves at their free times. And last, batik became folk’s clothes too.

At that moment, batik was made from hand-made cotton fabric and used natural colors, such as coloring from mengkudu tree, tinggi, soga, nila, many flowers and spices.


Batik Types

  • Batik tulis — is literally translate as “written batik”. The fabric is written by hand as the motifs or the textures. One piece of batik can be needed 2-3 months to be finished.

  • Batik cap/ batik tjap– translate as stamped batik. First, pictures of the batik is made on the rubber stamp. The fabric is stamped to get the motif.

  • Batik lukis– batik painting. A white fabrik is painted to get a decorative picture.
How to make batik?
Batik is a cloth or fabric which uses wax-resist dyeing  techniques. Batik tulis uses “canting” (the picture of canting is attached at the left side) to draw the motif using wax as the ink.
Canting has hand and head parts. The head consists of  cucuk or “beak” and nyamplung. The melt wax in the nyamplung will flow into cucuk and, as ink, the maker uses it to draw the motif of batik.
The wax will be leaved dry and the fabric soak into coloring water. the part of fabric which do not be covered by the dry wax will get the color. After the fabric dry, soak it on the boiling water to make the wax washed out.
Indonesia has a lot of batik’s motif,  creates motifs and types of batik in the line with  the richness of philosophies and cultures of this country. Indonesia’s batik also got influence from other countries, such as:
  • Dutch which made motifs such as batik buketan. Batik buketan showed European flower bouquet containing tulips and chrysanthemums.
  • Japanese gave influence at java hokokai  batik. This batik has sakura flower, chrysanthemum/ kiku flower, birds, and butterflies around the flowers.
  • Chinese influence showed at phoenix, dragon, lotus, qilin, and peony flower.
  • Batik also got influence from Hindu (such as Balinese batik) and Islam.
Batik also has type depend on where it comes from.
  • Javanese Kraton Batik/ Javanese Court Batik– Kraton is a kingdom on Javanese Island. These batik has earthy color tones such as black, brown, and dark yellow (sogan), sometimes against a white background. The classical batik’s motifs have meaning and sometimes show the user’s status.
  • Batik Pesisir/ Coastal Batik– different with Kraton batik, this batik has bright colors and simple motifs. Batik pesisir tradition was more open to foreign influences in textile design, coloring, and motifs, in contrast to Kraton batik. The examples of pesisir batik are Madura’s , Pekalongan’s , Lasem’s, Cirebon’s, and Tuban’s batik.
Now, batik is a traditional clothes of Indonesia. In October 02, 2009, Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have established batik as Indonesia’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. And the day becomes Batik’s Day of Indonesia.
Here some of my posts about batik, check them out! 😉
About the motif:
Other topics:


Categories: Batik


2 replies

  1. your blog is very simple but i like it because it is very well structured.

  2. jangan lupa visit ke website saya yah di saya byk koleksi batik

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