When thinking of one aspect of Indonesian culture, one cannot ignore the intricate textile art of fabric decorating or also known as Batik. Batik has faced major evolutions in its purpose, styles and presence within society overtime. Nevertheless, Through the layers of symbols and patterns, Batik strongly represents Indonesian identity, culture and heritage.
Map of Central Java, Indonesia
Location of Batik Sawat Pengantin
The influence of many foreign visitors in Indonesia has resulted in a variety of new styles of regional Batik across central Java. Each Batik styles has their own unique symbolical pattern and meanings. (Biranul & Yan Yan 2014) Furthermore, the motifs were also heavily influenced by the environments at the time. For example,“Batik Sawat Pengantin” a traditional Batik from Trusmi, Cirebon used to be worn by Royal Sultans symbolises protection of life, which is now worn by Brides. While, “Batik Sekar Jagad” symbolises beauty and diversity found throughout the world. (UBatik 2010)
Batik Sekar Jagad, source: (ubatik.com 2010), Batik Sawat Pengantin, source: (nunung, n.d.)
Nationally, Batik clothes are recognised and strongly rooted to Indonesian culture. However, it is important to have a sense of awareness upon preserving this unique heritage to avoid loss of Indonesian heritage. “…Gradually batik entering the common society’s life style, hence, this is a responsibility for the next young generation to have it and to wear it” (Gatut & Aryanto 2010)
To maintain Batik as a treasured cultural heritage, it is important to introduce and familiarise younger generation into wearing Batik. Triwik Kurniasari, a Jakartapost journalist in 2009 stated that there has been stigmas regarding batik as being unfashionable and worn mainly by elderly. (Chong 2012) Hence, currently various Indonesian brands and designers such have progressively incorporated batik elements into their fashion pieces and accessories. An example of this is a 90 year old Batik brand “Batik Keris”. Batik Keris collections which consists of clothing for male and female; from adults to young children, and has progressively developing their clothing line overtime. Batik Keris highlights the importance of modification and evolution of heritage in preserving the cultural heritage. Hence, they continuously designed many ‘traditional’ pieces that is modern whilst consistently focuses on Batik elements. (Batik Keris 2017)
source: (batik keris 2017)
Disputes regarding ownership of Batik between Indonesia and Malaysia has also unified and encourage Indonesian to conserve their own cultural heritage. Indonesia and Malaysia are two neighbouring countries that share common historical roots and cultural heritage (Chong 2012). These similarities are language, traditional arts and cuisine. Due to significant marketability and commercial leverage of their cultural heritage products, there has been a heated dispute upon ownership of Batik. (Chong 2012). This dispute has raised awareness towards the importance of a National heritage, unifying Indonesia and its People.
“Intangible heritage contributes to social cohesion, encouraging a sense of identity and responsibility which helps individuals to feel part of one or different communities and to feel part of society at large” (UNESCO 2009)
In conclusion, despite experiencing major evolution of purpose, style and presence, Batik is one of aspects of Indonesia that must be preserved and protected due to its value and intricate nature. It is a responsibility for its People to continuously preserve this cultural heritage, especially within the younger generations.
Batik Keris 2017, About Us, Indonesia, viewed on 7 December 2017,< https://www.batikkeris.co.id/company/about_us/>
Biranul, A., Yan Yan, S. 2014. ‘The Priangan Batik in the Constellation of Modern Aesthetics’, Journal of Visual Art and Design, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 11.
Chong, J, W. 2012, ‘Mine, Yours or Ours: The Indonesia-Malaysia Disputes over Shared Cultural Heritage’, Sojourn, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 1, 28, 32.
Gatut, B., Aryanto, V. 2010. ‘BATIK INDUSTRY OF INDONESIA: THE RISE, FALL AND PROSPECTS’, Studies in Business and Economics, pp. 162.
Nunung n.d., Batik Cirebon Motif Sawat Pengantin, Indonesia, viewed on 7 December 2017, < http://batik-cirebon.web.id/batik-cirebon-motif-sawat-pengantin/>
Ubatik 2010, Motif Batik Ciamis , Indonesia, viewed on 7 December 2017, < https://ubatik.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/motif-batik-ciamis/>
Ubatik 2010, Motif Batik Sekar Jagad , Indonesia, viewed on 7 December 2017, < https://ubatik.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/motif-batik-sekar-jagad/>