Monday, December 22, 2008
Batik Cirebon (Cirebonese Batik)
"Batik" is derived from the Javanese words of "amba" (to write) and "titik" (dots). The word "batik" refers to a painted or printed piece of cloth or fabric produced by applying wax (called "malam") that blocks dye colors to produce the desired designs and patterns.
The practice of Batik making has existed in the Indonesian archipelago for a long time. Historical records written on lontar palm leaves show that Batik making (industry?) was already thriving in the Javanese Kingdom of Majapahit (whose territory, according to a historical account, covered most of what is now the Indonesian archipelago, Singapore, Malaysia, the southern parts of Cambodia and Thailand, and the southern parts of the Philippines) in the 14th Century C.E.
There are a lot of varieties of batik in Indonesia. Among the most prominent of these are Batik Pekalongan (named after a town on the northern coast of Central Java), Batik Solo, Batik Jogja (Solo and Jogja are the names of two cities and Javanese cultural centers in the southeast part of Central Java), and Batik Cirebon (named after a coastal city in the north east of the West Java Province).
According to batik experts, Batik Cirebon is unique in that it has more multicultural characteristic in its patterns and colors than those produced in the Javanese hinterland cities like Solo and Jogja. It usually has bolder and more vibrant colors, e.g. red, blue and green, and more varieties of patterns that reflects the influences that the coastal trading post of Cirebon has received from the Moslem, Chinese, Indian, and European traders visiting this town.
The women in the photo are a family of Cirebonese batik makers who recently took part in the Kemilau Nusantara tourism and cultural exhibition in Bandung.
Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan