Understanding About the History of Indonesian Batik and Its Variations

The history of batik in Indonesia is closely related to the development of the Majapahit Kingdom in the era of the spread of Islamic teachings in Java. According to some records, the development of batik was mostly carried out during the Mataram Sultanate era, then continued during the Surakarta Kasunanan and Yogyakarta Sultanate eras.

The existence of the oldest batik activity in Indonesia is known to have come from Ponorogo and named Wengker, before finally in the seventh century, the Kingdom in Central Java learned batik from Ponorogo.

Batik is a cloth that is painted using liquid wax using a tool called a canting. With the wax and canting, the craftsmen draw and paint on a cloth to make the cloth highly valuable. Batik has existed since the royal era and continues to grow until now. What is the history of batik in Indonesia? Check out the explanation here!

Meaning of Batik

Batik is a pictorial fabric and the process of making it is specifically by drawing or applying motifs on a plain or blank cloth, then carrying out a special process, so that the cloth has special characteristics compared to other fabrics.

In language, batik comes from the word mbat which means throwing repeatedly and tick which means point. In terms, batik is a technique of drawing on cloth by using wax and canting as tools and materials in the manufacturing process.



Understanding Batik According to Experts

There are several figures who express opinions about the meaning of batik, such as Iwan Tirta, Santoso Doellah and others, along with their explanations.

Nusjirwan Tirtaamidjaja

Nusjirwan Tirtaamidjaja expressed his opinion about the meaning of batik. According to Tirtaamidjaja, batik is a technique of decorating cloth using wax through a color dyeing process and the whole process is done by hand.

Santoso Doellah

Santoso Doellah argues that batik is a piece of cloth made in the traditional way with certain decorative patterns and patterns. The techniques in the process of making batik are quite diverse, according to the origin of the batik.

Ivan Tirta

Batik according to Iwan Tirta is decorating cloth or textiles using wax and color dyeing methods. All the process of making batik is done with the help of hands and not machines, like the process of making modern batik.

Alif Syakur

Alif Syakur is of the opinion that the art of batik is a range of colors which includes various processes from the process of waxing, dyeing to dissolving on the cloth. The result is a subtle motif, with high artistry and detailed painting.


Indonesian Batik has been designated by UNESCO as a Humanitarian Heritage for Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009.

UNESCO assesses batik as the identity of the Indonesian people and becomes an important part for someone in Indonesia from the time they are born until they finally die. Because of this, the Indonesian government made October 2 as National Batik Day and is always commemorated with the community.

History and Development of Batik in Indonesia

Batik comes from the word ambatik which means a cloth that has many dots. The suffix of the word batik, namely tick, means a point or tip that is used to make a point.

Quoted from the official website of the Ministry of Education and Culture or the Ministry of Education and Culture, the word batik also comes from the Javanese language, namely tritik, the word batik comes from a combination of two words, namely amba which means to write and point which means point .

Historically, batik originated from the time of our ancestors and was known since the 17th century. At that time, the motifs of batik were dominated by animal and plant shapes. However, later batik motifs developed and switched to motifs resembling clouds or temple reliefs.

The craft of batik in Indonesia has been known since the time of the Majapahit kingdom. The Bhairawa statue is an example of the Majapahit Arca art style which was made in Sumatra around the 14th century. The development of batik art spread in Indonesia after the end of the 18th century or around the beginning of the 19th. Then stamped batik became known after World War I ended or in 1920s.

The history of batik in Indonesia is closely related to the development of the Majapahit Empire and the spread of Islamic teachings in Java. according to some records, the development of batik was mostly carried out during the Mataram Sultanate era and then continued during the Surakarta Kasunanan and Yogyakarta Sultanate eras.

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The existence of the oldest known batik activity comes from Ponorogo with the name Wengker, before the seventh century, the Kingdom in Central Java began to learn batik from Ponorogo. For this reason, Ponorogo batik has a style that is somewhat similar to batik circulating in Central Java, except that Ponorogo batik is batik made from thick black wax.

In addition, Ponorogo batik is also commonly referred to as irengan batik and is close to magical elements. Ponorogo batik was also developed by the kingdoms in Central Java.

The existence of Ponorogo batik until the 20th century and became part of heaven for batik makers, because batik production in Ponorogo exceeded the batik industry in Central Java or Yogyakarta which was then taken by batik collectors in Surakarta and Pekalongan, besides that, the wages of batik makers were in Ponorogo it is also the highest in Java.

Batik art in Indonesia has been known since the time of the Majapahit Kingdom and continued to grow until the next kingdom and its kings. Batik art in general spread in Indonesia and then specifically on the island of Java after the end of the 18th century or until the beginning of the 19th century.

The batik technique itself is known to exist for more than 1,000 years, it is possible that the technique originated in ancient Egypt or Sumer. Then, batik techniques spread to several countries in West Africa, such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Mali, Asia such as Sri Lanka, India, Iran, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Then, until the early 20th century, the batik that was produced was written batik. New stamped batik became known after World War I ended or around the 1920s. Batik art is the art of drawing on cloth for clothing which became one of the cultures of the royal family in Indonesia in ancient times.

At first, batik activities were limited to the palace and the batik that was produced was only for clothes for kings and government families and prominent figures.

For this reason, many of the dignitaries who lived outside the palace and read batik art together with them outside the palace, so that batik producing places appeared in several areas.

Over time, the art of batik was imitated by the common people. Then the art of batik spread, so that the art of batik became a job for women or housewives to fill their spare time.

The coloring materials used for batik consist of native Indonesian plants and are usually made from noni, indigo and soga trees. Meanwhile, the soda material is made from soda ash and the salt is made from mud soil.



Original Indonesian Batik Variety

Batik in Indonesia has many kinds of motifs, ranging from motifs shaped like animals, clouds and statues. Each variety of Indonesian batik motifs actually has its own meaning and uniqueness. Here are some types of batik motifs in Indonesia.

1. Mega Mendung Batik

The first batik motif is mega mendung. This motif is one of the most popular types of batik in Cirebon , West Java. The mega mendung batik motif is synonymous with patterns that are similar to ordinary forms and have deep meanings and philosophies. One of the meanings of the Mega Mendung batik motif is the value of patience that must exist in every human being.

Mega Mendung has 7 color gradations as its coating. The name of this motif comes from the word mega which means cloud or sky. Meanwhile, cloudy is the sky that dims when it’s about to rain.

The color gradation of this Mega Mendung batik motif corresponds to the 7 layers of the sky. In addition, the term cloudy can also be interpreted as a patient or not easily angry character in a human’s life.

2. Batik Sogan

In contrast to Mega Mendung, the Sogan batik motif originates from Solo and Yogyakarta with a characteristic light brown color and accents of flowers and dots. Apart from that, there are also curves and lines in this Sogan batik motif. As additional information, the Sogan batik motif is the favorite batik motif of the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo.

It turns out that the sogan motif has existed since the time of our ancestors and was commonly used by kings in palaces and sultanates. The sogan motif is quite popular, because this motif has an elegant color, which is a combination of black and brown.

Even though the motifs and colors of batik are increasingly diverse and varied, the sogan batik motif remains a unique batik motif in Indonesia.

3. Seven Way Batik

One of the areas in Indonesia which is quite famous as a craftsman area and center for batik, namely Pekalongan , Central Java. So, it’s not surprising that the city of Pekalongan is currently known as a city of batik artisans, especially coastal batik motifs that have a variety of colors.

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Pekalongan batik has a characteristic that is dominated by plant and animal motifs. Not only does it have bright floral motifs, but Pekalongan batik motifs also have lines and dots that are quite charming.

Pekalongan batik motifs describe the life characteristics of coastal communities who easily adapt to influences from outside cultures, so that the motifs and colors look very varied.

From a philosophical point of view, Pekalongan batik craftsmen have placed Chinese ceramic ornaments as a sign of acculturation of ancestral cultural ties, which in their paintings have both gentleness and fluency.

4. Kartini’s Batik

The next Indonesian batik motif is Kartini batik which is known in the Jepara area as a woodcarving producing area. Apart from Kartini batik, there are two most famous motifs from Jepara, namely old motifs and new motifs.

Jepara batik motifs have some quite striking characteristics, for example, such as black lunges to flora and fauna in the form of green threaded leaves or elephants with brown colors. Meanwhile, for a new version of batik motifs, Jepara has made innovations, for example, such as woven batik to written batik which is now known as Kartini batik.

5. Betawi Batik

Each region in Indonesia has its own distinctive batik motifs, including the Betawi or Jakarta community. This Betawi batik is a batik motif that is much liked by batik collectors in the archipelago.

In general, Betawi batik features bright colors and displays the cultural values ​​of the Betawi people. There are several images of motifs that are quite dominant on Betawi batik cloth, for example, such as ondel-ondel, Monas, the Ciliwung River to the Ceila Map. Usually, Betawi batik motifs are suitable for formal occasions, such as events from Abang None Jakarta or state events.

6. Asmat Batik

Even though batik is synonymous with heritage from Javanese culture, the eastern part of Indonesia also has a type of batik that is no less charming and enchanting. One of them is the province of Papua which is known to have Asmat batik motifs.

Asmat batik is known for its brightly colored motifs such as terracotta or slightly brownish colors such as earth colors. Asmat batik motifs are usually dominated by unique and distinctive carving patterns from the Asmat tribe, Papua. An example of Asmat batik is the motif in the form of carved statues and is unique to the native tribes that inhabit the Cendrawasih Earth.

7. Kamoro Batik

The next batik motif is the Kamoro batik motif originating from Papua . This batik motif has an image that resembles a standing statue carrying a spear blade.

The colors that are commonly displayed on the Kamoro tribal motifs are usually bright and bold colors, such as blue, green, yellow, pink, red or even black.

Kamoro batik motifs are also influenced by several cultures, for example, such as the Kamoro tribe and the influence of Javanese batik brought by batik craftsmen from Java Island. The use of Kamoro batik cloth is not only used for clothing, but also used for bed linen or other things.

8. Cendrawasih Batik

The Papua region also has batik with other motifs, namely Cenderawasih. One characteristic of the Cendrawasih batik motif is the use of bright and striking colors, for example golden yellow, green, red and other colors.

The Cendrawasih batik motif is classified as a contemporary and popular motif, because the Cendrawasih bird is an icon from the Papua region. In accordance with the name of this motif, Cendrawasih batik is inspired by the bird of paradise, which has charming feathers and tails.

So, it’s not surprising that users of Cendrawasih batik cloth will look both bold and assertive when wearing this batik motif.

9. Batik Prada

Prada batik is one of the batik motifs from Papua which is known to have high prices. This Prada batik motif resembles Cendrawasih batik, but there is a slight touch of gold lines on each motif.

Apart from the fact that there is gold in each motif, Prada’s batik is also made of silk. This batik cloth is usually used for shantung.

10. Batik Pring Sedapur

This one motif comes from Sidomukti Village , Magetan , East Java. The term Pring Sedapur comes from the Javanese language which means bamboo and allied. So, this batik motif depicts bamboo plants with bright colors and has a philosophical value, namely living in harmony and peace.

That is an explanation of the history of batik in Indonesia and the varieties of batik in Indonesia. If Sinaumed’s is interested in the origins of batik, or how to be creative with batik, then Sinaumed’s can find further information by reading books.