[Featured Destination: Jakarta] Batik – The fabric that represents Indonesia

Batik is the most quintessentially textile in Indonesia that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. It is usually made in several regions of Indonesia, but the center of the art is in Central Java. Traditional colors for batik include indigo, dark brown and white which represent the three major Hindu Gods (Brahma, Visnu and Siva).  The usual prints will consist of motifs of flowers, twinning plants, leave buds and geometric forms that are rich in symbolic association.

Batik, Image: RubyGoes under CC BY 3.0 

Selection and Preparation for the cloth of the Batik

Either cotton or silk of high tread count (densely woven) are used as the material for Batik. The high thread count enables the intricate design qualities of the batik be maintained and absorb the wax that is applied in the dye resisting process. There are different qualities of the material being used today, such as the Primissima (the best quality) and Prima, and Blaco refers to the material with a less ideal quality. The cloth quality is often written on the edge of the design.

Batik Design

Amongst the thousands of Batik design, some designs have traditionally been associated with the royal.

1) Kawung

An old design consisting of intersecting circles and carved into walls of many temples in Java. A pattern reserved for the royal court of the Sultan of Jogjakarta for many years.

2) Parang

This was once used exclusively by the royal courts of Central Java. The design consists of slanting rows of thick knife-like segments running in parallel diagonal brands. This mortif also appears in other form of artworks including wood carving and ornamentation on gamelan musical instruments.


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