What is Batik? maybe that is a question that is often asked by many residents in the many places we visit. Every Indo has different views and perspectives regarding the craft/culture that is the identity of our country. These various perspectives make the meaning of Batik diverse but at the same time able to narrow differences and unite every element of our nation. So, what do you think batik is?
The word batik comes from the Javanese word “amba” which means to write and “dot”. The word batik itself refers to a cloth with a pattern or motif produced by a material in the form of “night” (wax) which is etched in every detail on the cloth so that it can resist the entry of various dyes (dye), or in English vocabulary “wax-resist dyeing”.
Batik is a craft that has a high level of artistic value and has been integrated into the cultural identity of Indonesia (especially Java) since time immemorial. Javanese women in the past used batik as their skill to make a living, so in the past, this type of batik work was an exclusive job for women until the name “Batik Cap” was founded which allowed men to work on batik and enter into this field. There are some exceptions to this phenomenon, namely coastal batik which has a masculine pattern as we can see in Mega Mendung batik, so for some coastal areas, batik work is a common thing for men.
The variety of colors and patterns of Batik itself is influenced by various cultural influences from foreign nations. Initially, batik had a fairly limited variety of colors and patterns, and for some patterns, it could only be worn by certain groups. But the type of coastal batik can absorb various types of influences from outside, such as foreign traders and also, in the end, the invaders. Bright colors like red were popularized by the Chinese, who also popularized the phoenix pattern. European colonizers also took an interest in batik, and the result was previously unknown floral patterns (such as tulips) and objects brought by the colonizers (buildings or horse-drawn carriages), as well as their favorite colors such as blue. Traditional batik still maintains its style and is still used in traditional ceremonies, because usually, each pattern has its symbol.
The batik technique has been known for thousands of years ago. There is no clear historical information about the origin of batik. Some suspect this technique originated from the Sumerians, then developed in Java after being brought by Indian traders. Currently, batik can be found in many countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and Iran. In addition to Asia, batik is also very popular in several countries on the African continent. However, the most famous batik in the world is a batik from Indonesia, especially from Java.
The tradition of batik was originally a hereditary tradition so sometimes a motif can be recognized as coming from a certain family batik. Some batik may indicate the status of a person. Even today, some traditional batik motifs are only used by the royal families of Yogyakarta and Surakarta.
Batik tulis is an ancestral heritage of Indonesia (Javanese) that still exists today. Batik was also first introduced to the world by President Suharto, who at that time wore batik at the United Nations Conference.