The Design of Batik

Textile traditions throughout the archipelago are by any standard impressive, but usually the pattern are limited to repeated ornaments and stripes, largely because of the difficulty of weaving detailed and irregular ornamental compositions into cloth. The design possibilities of batik are, within the confines of the thickness of lines that can be drawn with the canting, near limitless, and the array of ornaments and patterns developed by the batik makers of java provides a magnificent and ever-increasing collection of designs of tremendous interest and beauty.

The design of batik can be viewed from several aspects: the process, the quality of the batiking, the motifs and the colors. Batik is drawing or a painting or a form of writing on cotton cloth, applied with the aid of a tool called canting. Drawing or a painting or a form of writing on cotton cloth by an artist or artisan is termed membatik (Mbatik). Or in English, batiking. Batiking produces batik in the form of various motifs which have specific characteristics which are passed onto the batik cloth.

This article will discuss the motifs and the colors or color combination of the batik of a certain region in relation to the above-mentioned factors, describing them in such way as to make it possible to recognize the distinctive motifs and colors of a particular area.clip_image002

The motifs of the coastal batiks are also influenced by those of Solo and Yogya, understandably so, since the art of batik originated in these areas. One example is the sawat or lar motif with its Hindu-javanese background. This motif is characteristic of solo and yogya, but in the coastal areas it is only a design, without a symbolic meaning.

clip_image004Other examples are batik with the Tambal (patchwork) motif, which is found in Solo, Yogya, Pekalongan, and Cirebon in variety of patterns and colors in accordance with the style of each particular area. It is extremely difficult to draw a clear dividing line between the different features of batik from different areas because of the degree of cultural exchange among them, for example, the cocohan, which is characteristic of Indramayu (west java), has been imitated by other regions.

Studying all the elements that influenced the development of batik in a certain area will greatly assist us in recognizing the origin of a certain piece of batik.

In general, there are two kinds of batik designs: geometric and non-geometric.

Classified under the geometric designs are:

1. Diagonal and Parang motif.


2. Squares, rectangles, crosses or Ceplok and Kawung


3. Weaving and Limar motifs.


And the non-geometric:

1. Semen

The semen motif consists of flora, fauna, meru (mountain) and lar (wings), harmoniously arranged.


2. Buketan

Buketan (from the French and Dutch bouquet) is a coastal design clearly showing foreign influence and classified as coastal batik.


3. Lunglungan


Classified with regard to area, batik falls into two large categories:

1. Batik of the Sultanates

The sultanates batik was the batik of Surakarta (Solo) and Yogyakarta (Yogya).

2. Batik of the coastal area, called batik pesisir.

The batik of the coastal areas was all batik made outside Solo and Yogya. The classification into these two categories is according to the nature and color of the motifs.

In general the following classification can be made:

1. The batik of Solo and Yogya:

a. symbolic motifs reflecting a Hindu-javanese cultural background.

b. colors: sogan (rich brown color); indigo (blue), black, white and cream.



Philosophy : This motif is used medium and low level of society wearing this, the person will look dashing and have couragegus personality.



Philosophy : Parang means weapon, showing power, authority and rapid movement. The knight who wears this batik is hope to be strong and nimble.



Philosophy: This motif is used by the kings and the royal family, as a symbol of power and justice. Four circles with a centre also symbolizes the king with his assistant.



Philosophy: Truntum means to guide. It is hoped that wear is will be able to give good examples.

2. The batik of coastal areas:

a. motifs: naturalistic, reflecting foreign influence.

b. colors: a variety of colors.

clip_image030MEGAMENDUNG MOTIF, Cirebon.

clip_image031 PAKSINAGALIMAN MOTIF, Cirebon.

clip_image033 MERAK NGIBING MOTIF, Indramayu.

clip_image035 SAWAT GUNTING MOTIF, Indramayu.

Related Books

1. Batik and Mystery and meaning by Nian S. DJoemena

2. Batik Design by Pepin van Roojen

2. Handbook of Indonesian Batik by the Institute for Research and Development of Handicraft and Batik Industries, Yogyakarta.

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