Indonesian Culture

Rabu, 03 November 2010

history of batik

Even though its exact history is uncertain, fragments of batik’s projected origin dates back to the first century where it was discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs. Evidence of early Batik has also been found all over the Middle East, in India, Central Asia and Africa.

By the nineteenth century, after the importation of more finely woven cloth from India and Europe, it became a highly accomplished art form in Java and Bali in Indonesia. Recognizable motifs, patterns and colors were developed and designed to identify one’s family, social status and geographic origin. Some experts feel that it was originally reserved for Javanese royalty on that island, and possibly a pass time of the princesses and noble ladies of the time. The word Batik seems to come from an Indonesian word 'ambatik', a cloth with little dots.
In the seventeenth century as the world grew smaller, batiking was introduced to Holland and other parts of Europe. In the early 1900’s, batik fabrics became very fashionable in Germany. Later on, Europeans and Americans traveling and living in the East rediscovered the ancient process and brought it back to their homelands. Today, art schools across the United States offer batik courses as part of their textile curricula.
Traditional batik, especially from Yogyakarta and Surakarta, has special meanings rooted to the Javanese conceptualization of the universe. Traditional colours include indigo, dark brown, and white, which represent the three major Hindu Gods. This is related to the fact that natural dyes are most commonly available in indigo and brown. Certain patterns can only be worn by nobility; traditionally, wider stripes or wavy lines of greater width indicated higher rank. Consequently, during Javanese ceremonies, one could determine the royal lineage of a person by the cloth he or she was wearing.

Other regions of Indonesia have their own unique patterns that normally take themes from everyday lives, incorporating patterns such as flowers, nature, animals, folklore or people. The colours of pesisir batik, from the coastal cities of northern Java, is especially vibrant, and it absorbs influence from the Javanese, Arab, Chinese and Dutch culture. 

UNESCO signated Indonesian batik as aMasterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009. As part of the acknowledgment, UNESCO insisted that Indonesia preserve their heritage. :-)

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