Love of Batik

Colours and patterns
Drawn for beauty and meaning—

At times the colours call
To get brightened up.

At times the patterns invite
To compare accuracy.

To me the highest luxury in life is not branded bags, luxurious houses, luxurious car, luxurious holiday (not backpacking though); but it is hand-made batik. With as low as USD100 I can afford a sheet of hand-made batik that definitely a way to conserve local culture and to help the batik makers survive life. There are brands and designers sell the batik for doubled prices; with the same quality of my USD100 batik, they probably sell it for at least USD400. My most expensive batik is only for USD700; imagine how much those brands and designers will sell them — trusted names do sell.

How can batik be so expensive even bought from the first hand like mine? It of course involves high technique and skills (senior batik makers can make very delicate and accurate result of batik), the patterns made, the colours used (the more colours esp natural colourants, the more expensive as the blocking process can be more than twice); time consumed (can be up to 5 months to complete one sheet of 2.5m of hand-made batik sheet), quality of fabric used (cotton and silk is the most common). In short quality hand-made batik is a combination of high art and high patience!

Today is my batik day. Some of the batik sheets got light treatment of “airing” in which folded batik is unfolded, hung loose to get some breeze for around an hour. This is my own technique in rainy days. In sunny day the sheets should be sunbathed.

Batik treatment by an amateur batik curator ✅

Let’s do more fun today! 💗

Thank you, dear weekend.


treatment done with one group 🙂
another group that need airing or sunbathing tomorrow 🙂 others will be next month 🙏🏼
amazed by the batiks as collected or curated by those professional curators 😍

Clear Sky (ranting)

Clear sky, Beloved,
Calm blue where clouds swim, birds fly
Under the warm sun—

Javanese live their life with meaning and that makes them “effortlessly” survive even in the hardest time. They pin meaning to everything they experience. I believe Javanese are naturally philosophers whose communal humble life is richly loaded with wisdom; unfortunately fading away by the time.

Meanings easily recognised by most Javanese are those pinned to batik method and patterns. Historically batik patterns were works of art composed by either scholars from padepokan (ashram in Sanskrit) or the royals (king, queen, prince, princess or royal artists). In fact, there were few batik patterns created by commoners such as batik nitik and batik kawungKawung is one of the oldest original patterns of Javanese batik which has existed since 12th century. Nitik was born younger, approximately in 19th century.

Fun fact about Javanese king: aside from courses of political knowledge, leadership, palace management etc, long time before his coronation a Javanese crown prince must completely compose 3 works of art and publicly present them to the board of senior royals then announced the art pieces to people in the kingdom. Those three are batik pattern whose batik is handmade by him, tembang/kidung (sacred Javanese song) sung by him; and bedhaya dance trained to the dancers by him (a solemn Javanese dance performed by a group of dancers).

While batik nitik was initially created as secret codes by commoners to circulate among them classified information kept hidden from unjust aristocrats at that time or from the enemies (some historians said though this pattern was composed by the royals); kawung was allegedly created by a mother to dress her son who was instructed by the king to join his exclusive team due to his outstanding skill of espionage and balanced state of mind (again the historians said this pattern was composed by the royals). The said mother made a sheet of kawung pattern for him before he left as a prayer that her son could keep his current quality even after he later lived among (socially, politically, professionally) higher rank people.

kawung aka kolang-kaling, two seeds, four half-chambers (from Pinterest)

Kawung is the Javanese word of sugar palm (kolang-kaling). The symmetrical four half chambers in a fruit are used to symbolise balanced state among physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual. The clear colour of the seed is borrowed to symbolise clarity: of conscious mind, of conscious decisions, of intension, of purpose and of actions.

People also relate the word kawung to suwung that can mean emptiness: in this matter suwung is more about self alignment, absence of sense-driven wanting. A person in this suwung state in positive interpretation means someone who is already free from his/her craving for worldly interests, s/he is able to calmly and consciously prioritise among physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual proportions with no doubt or confusion. S/he is in high level of awareness of a “perfect” human being.

In Java region that kind of person is not necessarily a saint or a priest or a bikhu(ni) or a nun; s/he might be a farmer, a batik maker, a herbal seller, a taxi driver, an employee, a housewife, a leader etc, just whoever is willing to self align through what they do everyday regardless their professions. Not a few of them were “bad” people hearing the inner calling, deciding to quit their wrong doings and living “new” life.

At younger age, I met more of that type around us in my hometown. Now fewer and fewer people are interested to achieve that level because life pace is now becoming faster with the “tsunami of information” and life needs are “forcing” people to be constantly in alert mode with the high competition to “survive certain life style”. 

Not much I can do this time. I try to breath more slowly, pay attention on shift of emotions through body reaction (my body will never betray me) then acknowledge the emotion whatever it is. Time flies like a wind sometimes like a storm, I choose to ride it, not to get dragged by it. Not easy but doable.

How light this head is after ranting! 

batik kawung beton crafted by Mbak Arifah (25 yo), a mute-deaf female who never goes to school but is able to write and read – thank you, Mbak Arifah
primissima cotton, 250*106cm, two sided
Fun fact about the honourable batik makers:
- Once a batik maker pulls the “canting” filled with hot wax on a sheet of fabric, it will start developing lines or dots as the hot wax gets dry fast and block the fabric. That is why they work very carefully to avoid unplanned error. Correcting unplanned error is more tedious in batik making process compared to drawing the patterns with canting. Zero accident policy applies.
- Batik making is a highly contemplative activity (almost) like meditation. That is what makes many of batik makers especially those senior and/or with high quality artisanal works have good self alignment.
- Some batik makers don’t need to draw the planned pattern with pencil on the fabric. They are the highly skilled, the artist, the master of what they are doing.
- It takes approximately 5 months to complete a piece of two sided hand-made batik of 210-250cm long. Those batik makers also do household chores in between their batik making activities as they mostly don’t earn good money. If you buy hand made batik, please give extra dollars to share some comfort.
- Majority of batik makers are female. Very few of them are young.
at workshop (from Pinterest)
at home (from Pinterest)

Batik Gringsing

Time travels with you
To where good memories sit,
Waiting to rejoice.


When I was a girl, I got sick very often. Yet what I remember the most isn’t the pain but is how my family would take care of me. Of course they medically treated me either at home or hospitalised, but there was a unique way I can never forget what my mother, father and siblings did extra.

My father would chant Javanese mantra that would calm me down. My mother would wrap me with a sheet of batik cloth before putting the next thicker blanket. And of course siblings especially sisters would sleep with me the whole night.

What Javanese mantra chanted by father? Oh can’t remember! What batik, I definitely remember it and now own it for the same need; covering myself with batik gringsing when sick.

1.2mx2.3m batik cloth with gringsing background pattern of flower bouquets

Gringsing is one of the oldest batik background patterns in Java. It is thousands of tiny square with a dot in the center symbolising “sedulur papat kalima pancer” (literally means 4 siblings and 1 core as the fifth) the cosmic balance of human reality in Javanese wisdom. And through the philosophy it is believed that when a Javanese human is sick, s/he is cosmically imbalanced and needs to be balanced. Physically s/he is medically treated, metaphysically s/he is cured with gringsing the balance symbol.

Gringsing is an acronym of gring or gering (sick, not well, ill) and sing (not); gringsing means not sick anymore. Oh! That simple! Made by hand! Oh! Not that simple!

What a blessed human being!

wrapping body when catching fever doesn’t replace paracetamol, it’s to recall the memory of how my family well treated me when I was sick 🥰
detail of gringsing: a tiny squarish scale with a dot in the center – sedulur 4 ka-5 pancer

Make Peace

Make peace, Beloved,
With the softest anger in.
Growing peaceful stars—



Weekend, bring the peace intact.

Salaam 🙏🏼

batik truntum to cover my working chair; truntum is taken from a Javanese word “tumaruntum” meaning growing

Does Too Much Love Kill?

Too much love will kill
Who? None. Love will overflow,
Reviving the death.


Finally an agreement was achieved among some friends to start a project to support a few batik makers that we know and to spread knowledge about batik from unique perspectives. There will be video about batik, the batik artisan’s life and thin slices of Javanese wisdom. And so I have to restart the old hobby that has been dormant for how long only heaven knows.

Can’t wait to travel to dear home-base-will-be and produce slides and shows….

Hope it works well.

Friendship nurtures human beings in many ways possible.

good, the tripod still stands still 👍🏽

Dark, Fragrant Beauty

A bunch of roses,
Send this prayer as a gift
To those remembered
Through air, land, water, fire in
Dark, fragrant beauty. Amen.

I pray with flowers in a glass vase every week: reciting beautiful verses to those I’ve loved and remembered especially the ancestors, whispering unsaid love to those faraway, wishing they be happy everyday. Some people consider it ancient practice and not applicable or acceptable as modern but I feel more connected to my own self by doing it. So making it a habit

I love the dark mood of today’s flowers combined with my “sogan handmade batik”. It painted a shade of dark beauty with special fragrance and colour.

May all beings be happy.


Tanggal 2 Oktober telah ditetapkan sebagai Hari Batik oleh pemerintah setelah UNESCO mengukuhkan batik kita sebagai kekayaan dunia dan seyogyanya kita menyokongnya dengan suka cita. Masih teringat bagaimana hingar-bingar pecinta batik kita berjuang dengan cara mereka sendiri ketika Malaysia mengklaim batik sebagai milik mereka.

Sekilas tentang batik
Batik adalah metode pembentukan motif pada media tertentu – awalnya hanya kain mori lalu berkembang hingga sekarang batik dapat diterapkan pada kulit, kayu, dll – dengan cara menutup bagian tertentu dengan lilin (malam) sebelum proses pewarnaan dilakukan. Awalnya batik memiliki motif tertentu yang dihubungkan dengan proses kontemplasi seniman batik pada jamannya yang biasanya menciptakan karyanya untuk kebutuhan kraton mengingat dulunya batik hanya bisa dijangkau oleh kaum ningrat. Maka terciptalah motif-motif batik seperti Wahyu Tumurun, Kawung, Klithik, Sido Mukti, Parang dengan berbagai variannya, Mega Mendung dll. Semua yang saya sebutkan adalah “batik pakem”
Di negeri kita ini hampir semua daerah utama memiliki batik dengan ciri khas tersendiri walaupun secara umum batik dibagi 2 kelompok besar: batik pesisiran (daerah pinggir laut) dan batik Jogja-Solo (pedalaman). Dua kelompok besar ini membuat khazanah batik Indonesia menjadi kaya luar biasa. Batik pesisiran biasanya menggunakan warna-warna terang dan aplikasi motif yang lebih ringan dan ceria serta menggambarkan objek secara gamblang dan nyata sedangkan batik pedalaman lebih didominasi oleh lebih banyak warna gelap yang lazim disebut sogan (coklat, hitam, kelabu) dan penggambaran objeknya lebih abstrak dan penuh simbol.

Batik Cirebonan adalah contoh batik pesisiran yang paling memasyarakat saat ini. Dengan warna yang gonjrengnya batik Cirebonan mampu menyelinap ke dalam hati para penggemar instan karena memungkinkan mereka untuk bergaya dengan batik secara lebih mudah. Ciri khas batik Cirebonan juga terletak pada objeknya: tanaman, burung-burung, langit berarak, matahari, dll dan satu lagi yaitu “tumpal”. Tumpal adalah aplikasi motif penyelaras di ujung kanan atau kiri kain yang biasanya diletakkan di depan ketika batik dipakai sebagai sarung.

Batik pedalaman atau Jogja-Solo lebih banyak bermain dengan simbol dan pemaparan ide secara abstrak dan mengedepankan kesan sakral dalam setiap motif pakemnya. Misalnya “jarik” Sido Mukti adalah ekspresi doa kebahagiaan, kemakmuran dan kelanggengan desainernya sehingga dipakailah batik ini sebagai salah satu pakaian pengantin. Sebaliknya batik bermotif Parang tidak direkomendasikan dikenakan dalam prosesi itu.

Proses dalam membatik
– memilih media
– memilih motif
– menggambar motif (mola)
– membatik (menutup bagian dengan lilin sesuai pola)
– mewarnai (nyelup)
– membuang lilin (nglorot) dengan cara merebus kain yang telah dicelup
– mengeringkan
– membersihkan batik dari sisa-sisa lilin yang menempel

Tidak terlalu sulit bukan? Tidak ada salahnya jika kita mau mencoba. Kalau ada waktu, silakan kunjungi Musium Tekstil di Jl. Karel Sasuit Tubun, Jakarta yang mengadakan kursus batik secara reguler. Anda akan bertemu dengan para seniman dan instruktur yang dengan suka rela berbagi ilmu, pengalaman dan kecintaan budaya.

Banyak istilah dalam dunia perbatikan yang mungkin tidak terlalu dikenal secara luas misalnya isen, semen, nitik, nyolet, dll. Namun itu bukan hal yang urgent bagi kita untuk mengetahuinya. Untuk saat ini mari kita mencintai dulu batik kita dengan cara memakainya baik setiap hari maupun pada acara-acara tertentu saja.

Kiranya tulisanku di Hari Batik ini cukuplah untuk memberikan penghargaan pada batik dan pelestarinya serta membagi sedikit pengetahuan bermanfaat.

Selamat Hari Batik
Mari pakai batik paling tidak sekali seumur hidup 🙂

Otw Blok M di Ekspres MC2636 – 7:45 pagi



Sudah setahun lebih saya tidak memegang canting. Selama itu saya berkutat dengan kesibukan yang tidak bisa saya ungkapkan secara terperinci. Yang pasti selama kurun waktu itu saya membiarkan kompor kecil saya kering sumbunya, wajan tembaga saya penuh dengan malam beku dan canting saya buntu sama sekali.

Saya ingin membatik lagi. Dulu saya membatik bisa sampai pagi. Saya tidak peduli walaupun saya harus membatik di teras luar supaya asap tidak mengganggu pernafasan di dalam ruangan. Saya tidak peduli bahwa malam itu bisa saja maling celana sedang gentayangan,. Saya tidak peduli pada makhluk-makhluk lain yang sejatinya sedang menggoda saya dengan rupa yang berbeda-beda, dari tikus, cicak, kecoa, laba-laba, semut merah dan yang berpakaian compang-camping atau berpakaian kerajaan menembus dinding… Apa itu ya…

Karya batik saya sudah ada beberapa lemabr baik yang telah sempurna proses pembuatannya maupun yang belum diwarnai atau belum dicanting sebagian atau baru dipola. Semua itu membuat saya terpacu untuk menyelesaikan tugas saya. Tugas saya adalah menyempurnakan karya saya. Saya tidak mau karya saya terbengkalai sebelum purna usia. Apapun tugas dan karya saya yang belum tuntas saya anggap hutang. Dan hutang saya harus terbayar sebelum saya meninggal. Batik saya harus jadi dalam waktu dekat.

Satu batik yang akan segera saya kerjakan adalah sebuah selendang sutera yang ingin saya persembahkan pada ibu saya Lebaran ini. Cantik sekali polanya. Saya membayangkan alangkah cantiknya ibu saya mengenakan selendang sutera pada saat shola Id.

Ok, yang penting sekarang saya telah memiliki waktu lagi untuk membatik. Membatik seperti tidka jauh berbeda dengan kegemaran saya menggambar dan melukis namun jujur adanya membatik membutuhkan kesabaran ekstra. Saya tak heran jika setahun ini saya merasa kesabaran saya tidak sebagus ketika saya aktif membatik.

Ternyata kesabaran bukanlah sebuah kata benda yang dapat kita peroleh begitu saja. Kesabaran adalah buha latihan bersabar dalam kehidupan sehari-hari.

Duh, saya ingin membatik lagi…