Batik: Wearable Art

Today, some batik is made by hand, but some is also mass-produced allowing for more affordable batik clothing. Batik used to be only worn at special occasions or by the rich, but today everyone in Indonesia can wear and afford batik.

Why does the community have this tradition?:

Batik began as a hobby for royal women but later became a symbol of Indonesia. Handmade batik is very time consuming, so originally much of the batik that was made was made by or for royalty. Women in the royal courts made batik as a form of art and leisure. Each royal or upper-class family would have their own patterns Today some of those patterns still exist.

In addition to family patterns, whole regions have symbolic patterns. On Java, coastal regions often have lighter and brighter patterns, while inland regions have more earth tones. There are also some patterns that are symbols of ideas or different notions. When children are born, they are often wrapped in a batik scarf with the pattern of good luck. Today, the patterns can represent many different things and batik is a symbol of Indonesian heritage and art!

Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?:

Given the warm climate and fertile volcanic soils, the items needed to make batik are readily available in Indonesia. To make batik you need: cotton, beeswax and plants to make dyes. All three of these are naturally grown or cultivated in Indonesia. Indonesia is also very warm and the use of cotton allows shirts to be lightweight and breathable in the summer heat. Given the environment, it is no wonder batik thrives in Indonesia.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia