The Stories Behind the 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns

The Stories Behind The 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns

Batik has captured the hearts of many travelers who visit Indonesia to experience its rich culture and diverse landscapes. Batik textiles come in many different shades and shapes by using wax, cotton and other fabrics. Although there are many regional styles and techniques, these 6 have managed to stand out in terms of popularity and are recognized all over the world:

Batik Kawung

The Stories Behind the 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns - Batik Kawung


The Indonesian batik pattern known as "kawung batik" is shaped like a circle, just like the kawung fruit, which is a type of coconut or sometimes also known as sugar palm or palm fruit and is neatly placed geometrically. There are instances when this design is also seen as a lotus flower with four open blossom crowns. The lotus blossom is a representation of enduring purity. Kawung was regarded as a favorite among the royal families of the Yogyakarta Sultanate in the 18th century. According to legend, the Yogyakarta Sultanate's royal family liked kawung so much that only members of the royal bloodline were permitted to wear it.

Batik Parang

The Stories Behind the 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns - Batik Parang

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One of the earliest batik designs in Indonesia is parang. The Javanese term Pereng, which meaning slope, is where Parang gets its name. A diagonal line descending from high to low is depicted in Parang. Continuity is represented by the way the S motifs are intertwined in an uninterrupted pattern.

During the rule of Sultan Agung of Mataram in the 16th century, in Central Java, this religious batik first appeared. On his tour to Java's southern coast, Sultan Agung of Mataram invented the Parang batik motif. The waves crashing in the Parangtritis sea served as the Sultan's source of inspiration.

There's also a legend in Indonesia about a Javanese prince named Panji who was shielded because he wore parang batik. As a result, many Javanese see parang as a symbol of safety and security.

Batik Sekar Jagad

The Stories Behind the 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns - Batik Sekar Jagad

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Batik Sekar Jagad is a batik motif that originated in Solo and Yogyakarta. The origins of sekar jagad can be traced back to the 18th century. It received its name from the Dutch word "kar", which means "a map", and the Javanese term "jagad", which means "the world". The word sekar also means "flowers" in Indonesian. As a result, sekar jagad symbolizes the beauty of Indonesia's diversity. The fresh and brilliant hues of its flower motifs convey love and happiness, making it the ideal choice for bride and groom outfits.

Batik Truntum

The Stories Behind the 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns - Batik Truntum


Kanjeng Ratu Kencana, the daughter of Sunan Pakubuwana III, invented Truntum, a prominent form of batik from Solo. Some think that the Queen, upset by the King's infidelity, fashioned these star patterns while gazing into the night sky. The motif impressed the King, who valued his wife's efforts. His feelings for the Queen were reignited, and he reunited with her. This tradition popularized truntum as a symbol of rekindled love, making it a popular choice for brides and grooms.

Truntum patterned fabrics are also often utilized by the bride's parents on the wedding day due to its meaning. The hope is that this Tumaruntum love shall descend the bride and groom. It is also sometimes construed that parents are obligated to "guide" the bride and groom into a new life.

Batik Ulamsari Mas

The Stories Behind the 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns - Batik Ulamsari Mas


Ulamsari mas is a Bali-based batik pattern that features vibrant colors and depictions of fish and shrimp. Due to the island's abundance of marine life, one of the Balinese people's main sources of income is fishing. To express their appreciation for the island's natural riches, including fish, shellfish, and raw materials, the people of Bali produced this batik. Ulamsari mas patterns thus represent the way of life and wealth of the Balinese people, particularly those who reside on Bali's coast.

Batik Buketan

The Stories Behind the 6 Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns - Batik Buketan

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The Dutch term "boeket," which in English is translated as "bouquet," is the source of the word "buketan". As it was invented in Pekalongan, Central Java, by Dutch designer Eliza van Zuylen, who combined Javanese motifs with Art Nouveau patterns, buketan was greatly influenced by the Dutch. It is said that she would arrange paper cutouts of dried flowers into a batik pattern to represent the actual bouquet.

Because the images of flowers, birds, and plants in this batik are vibrant like those that bloom in the Netherlands, this motif is simple to identify. This motif's floral design represents joy, happiness, beauty, and purity. While the image of the birds might be seen as a representation of the grace and power of a lady.


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