Have you ever heard of Batik? No? But I bet you might have spotted one if you have ever flown with either Singapore Airlines or Garuda Indonesia. It’s the beautiful prints on the uniforms of the flight attendants.
Batik is one of the symbols of Indonesia, the cultural pattern of the country. The word batik means a cloth with dots. It describes how the cloth design is made, by inking it with tiny dots into a beautiful pattern.
On our last day in Yogyakarta, we went to a several batik shops as I wanted to get Mama Geek something from there. The first one we went to had a batik maker who was working her way through a half done pattern. We chatted for a while about batik and me, she was curious about my origin as I was about her batik.
These are the essential tools to draw batik. It looked pretty traditional and the ink has a distinct smell. Maybe this is where the batik aroma comes from.
I asked her how long does it take for her to make a whole batik cloth. “2 weeks”, she nonchalantly answered. TWO WEEKS?!! It’s a hard job and a harder art to master. You need both patience and tenacity among other things. I don’t have both, which was why I refused the lady’s offer to give it a try. It’s too beautiful to be messed up by my forever shaky hands.
Unlike now, when I was young, batik wasn’t a part of a regular person’s wardrobe. There weren’t many people who wore or even have a batik, especially not the youngsters. The only batik I had was my high school’s uniform. A blue and white patterned batik, worn every Friday.
Batik has become popular again in the past decade thanks to the former government regime who actively educated the public to wear batik, including the implementation of Batik Friday, which encouraged office workers to wear batik to work on Fridays.
Though it looks like the private sectors have informally modified it to Batik Thursdays instead. So that we can still wear casual Friday clothes on Fridays I guess. At least that’s the case in our office.
I came back home with a few batiks from Yogyakarta and gave it to Mama Geek, my niece and a couple of friends. They all loved it. I also got a batik scarf for myself, with a Kawung pattern I think, which used to be reserved only for the royal family. I plan to wear overseas to showcase the richness of Indonesian culture. It’s a good feeling, partly proud and partly love, to wear a traditional local art as a daily fashion statement.
Read more about Yogyakarta: Keraton Yogyakarta Palace // Taman Sari the royal bathing complex // Javanese Food Fest in Yogyakarta // Charcoal coffee // Yogyakarta Batik // Borobudur // The vintage hotel Yogyakarta // Yogyakarta batik motifs // Mirota Batik is the place to get your batik fix in Yogyakarta // I highly recommend Rumah Batik as well // Unfortunately, Yogyakarta is famous for batik scams, beware!