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Friday, 19 February 2016

Traditional Batik Motif Yogyakarta

Batik patterns are divided into different families of designs, each with hundreds of variations within them. The following gives you a brief introduction to the main design families. You'll see certain designs that belonged to the sacred, forbidden patterns reserved for the royal court. Over time, these particular patterns did enter into common use. Yet to this day, if a person does not belong to the court, they would never wear those patterns inside the keraton, or palace walls.

Ceplok Motifs

The Ceplok family includes a wide range of geometric designs, often based on circular rosettes, stars or other small shapes, forming an overall symmetric pattern on the cloth

Grompol means to gather together. Often worn for wedding ceremonies, the pattern symbolizes the coming together of a harmonious marriage, for children, good luck, and happiness.

Kawung Motifs


The Kawung is one of the oldest designs, and was reserved for the royal family. It represents a cross-section of the aren-palm fruit, and some say the cross in between the four ovals refers to the universal energy source.

While there are many variations, the basic structure is a group of four circles or ovals nearly touching each other, laid out on the cloth in geometric symmetry.

Parang Motifs

Sometimes referred to as the keris or sword pattern by outsiders, the Javanese call the Parang motif lidah api, or tongue of fire. Parang are one of the most powerful of batik motifs with their strong parallel diagonal lines. There are hundreds of variations, from small 2cm in Parang Klithik to the largest at 8cm or more in Parang Barong.

Parang Barong
In times past, Parang Barong was a sacred pattern worn only by the king. The motif reminded him to guard himself carefully so he would be a responsible, honest and just ruler.

Parang Rusak
Another of the Parang designs worn by the royal family on state occasions, Parang Rusak symbolizes the human being's internal fight against wickedness by controlling their desires so their wise, noble character would win out.



Refers to the diagonal rows of patterns in between the parang motifs. In addition, many patterns are simply rows of narrow diagonal lines filled with a whole array of small patterns. The Udang Liris, again, one of the old patterns reserved for the royal court, is one of the more famous of these motifs.
Udang Liris or light rain symbolizes fertility, the hope for prosperity, determination, to have courage to carry out what's important for the nation and her people.

Nitik Motifs


Nitik Motifs are among the oldest batik patterns and were inspired by woven patola cloths brought by traders from Gujarat, India long ago. The geometric design is created with small dots and dashes imitating the original woven fabric.
Truntum : Worn by parents of a wedding couple the Truntum pattern.

Semen Motifs


Semen, based on the word semi, meaning to sprout or grow, are non-geometric patterns inspired by the natural world. Filled with stylized stems, flowers, leaves, mountains, and animals, this group of designs was highly important for royalty on special occasions, as well as common people in everyday use.
Garuda, the mystical bird-man in Hindu mythology, who carried Vishnu through the heavens, is often portrayed in Semen designs with a single, or pair of wings (Lar) or the wings and tail (Sawat). Often associated with Semen patterns, the wing shape is also found with Parang and Ceplok motifs.

Isen Motifs

Filling patterns called Isen are highly characteristic of Indonesian, especially Javanese, batik. Finely rendered in a wax line, these small designs add a depth and harmonious beauty to the overall cloth.
Now that you have a glimpse into the world of traditional Yogyakarta batik, discover the batik process in creating these intricate cloths, here.
If you're already familiar with the process, learn about making batik in our workshops, customized just for you, here.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Special Treatments to the Batik Cloth

Prada or Gold Cloth

For special occasions, batik was formerly decorated with gold lead or gold dust. This cloth is known as Prada cloth. Gold leaf was used in the Jogjakarta and Surakarta area. The Central Javanese used gold dust to decorate their Prada cloth. It was applied to the fabric using a handmade glue consisting of egg white or linseed oil and yellow earth. The gold would remain on the cloth even after it had been washed. The gold could follow the design of the cloth or could take on its own design. Older batiks could be given a new look by applying gold to them. Gold decorated cloth is still made today; however, gold paint has replaced gold dust and leaf.

Design Process

The outline of the pattern is blocked out onto the cloth, traditionally with charcoal or graphite. Traditional batik designs utilize patterns handed down over the generations. It is very seldom that an artisan is so skilled that he can work from memory and would not need to draw an outline of the pattern before applying the wax. Often designs are traced from stencils or patterns called pola. Another method of tracing a pattern onto a cloth is by laying the cloth on a glass table that is illuminated from below which casts a shadow of the pattern onto the cloth. The shadow is then traced with a pencil. In large batik factories today, men usually are in charge of drawing the patterns onto the cloth. 

Batik Design Tools

Although the art form of batik is very intricate, the tools that are used are still very simple. The canting, believed to be a purely Javanese invention, is a small thin wall spouted copper container (sometimes called a wax pen) that is connected to a short bamboo handle. Normally it is approximately 11 cm. in length. The copper container is filled with melted wax and the artisan then uses the canting to draw the design on the cloth. 

Selection and Preparation of the Cloth for Batik

Natural materials such as cotton or silk are used for the cloth, so that it can absorb the wax that is applied in the dye resisting process. The fabrics must be of a high thread count (densely woven). It is important that cloth of high quality have this high thread count so that the intricate design qualities of batik can be maintained.