Indonesian Batik

In Java, Indonesia, batik is an ancient tradition and a cultural identity. In cooperation with the Indonesian Women’s Association in Berlin, the Indonesian Embassy invited the WiB members to a batik presentation at the Indonesian residence on 19 March 2019.

Sartika “Titi” Oegroseno, wife of the Indonesian ambassador explained in her welcome remarks that UNESCO recognized Indonesian batik as Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2009. 2 October is celebrated as National Batik Day in Indonesia where the whole nation proudly wear batik in honor to the ancient tradition. The complexity and unique details in batik making was illustrated by Mr. Muhammad Nauval and Mr. Epi Gunawan, two batik experts who flew from Bandung (the capital of West Java) to Berlin especially for this event.

The batik making may take weeks or even months to complete and the usage of hot wax and dye in the batik making has been practiced for centuries. Batik Jumputan, also known as Ikat, implements the tie-dye technique. With the guidance of the two batik experts, the members did the folding and tying techniques with rubber bands on a handkerchief-size cloth and experimented with coins or marbles to create unique patterns. Afterwards they went outside the room, each in apron to prevent their clothing from color splatters, and took turn dipping the folded-tied cloth alternately in the 3 bowls containing different dye colors to find color combinations that produce a motive. After the rubber bands were removed, the dye-colored clothes were hung to dry under the sun. Everyone admired their own colorful Ikat creation.

While waiting for the Ikat to dry, the members proceeded with the batik making. Mr. Nauval said: “If it is not hot wax, then it is not batik”. Canting, believed to be a purely Javanese invention, is a small copper pen-like container with a short bamboo handle. Wajan is an iron container to melt the wax until it is completely liquified. The members carefully dipped their cantings into the wajan to fill it with hot wax. Fully concentrated, they traced the penciled outline of the intricate batik pattern on the fabric and kept the hands steady to prevent accidental spillage. Mistakes are very difficult to correct. Following the tracing with hot wax, the members applied three different dye colors to the patterns. Due to limited time, everyone tried their best to create their batik masterpiece in 15 minutes! The amusing event was concluded with a delicious buffet of popular Indonesian dishes.

Heartfelt thank you to Titi, the Indonesian Women’s Association, Mr. Nauval and Mr. Gunawan for the excellent introduction of the Indonesian batik!

Photo 2, 3, 4: the courtesy of the Indonesian Embassy.