Indonesia celebrates Batik Day

Traditional Javanese Batik. Image by Max Pixel on Creative Commons Zero

Proud of its rich cultural heritage, Indonesia celebrates Batik Day on October 2. This is the date the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized batik as a ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ in 2009 (source).

Where does Batik come from?

While the precise origins of Batik are unclear, its history reportedly goes as far back as Ancient Egypt and to the Far East, Central Asia and India.

But it is Indonesia, particularly in Bali and Java, where Batik became a “highly accomplished art form. Recognizable motifs, patterns and colours 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, and possibly a pastime of princesses and noble ladies of the time.” (source)

Batik Friday

Today Batik is made in many countries, including Malaysia, Thailand and The Philippines, but according to the Batik Guild “Indonesia, most particularly the island of Java, is the area where batik has reached the greatest peak of accomplishment.”

It is very much a part of the country’s cultural identity, so much so that the government encourages everyone, especially those who work in government offices and institutions, to wear Batik every Friday. (As a side note, this is something we do at Seven Stones Indonesia.)

So what is Batik?

Sources credit the origins of the word Batik to two Javanese words amba (‘to write’) and titik (‘dot’), words used to describe a technique of wax-resist dyeing on textile, which experts claim is over a thousand years old. (source)

Image by Masbet Christianto on Pixabay
Traditional Batik painting technique. Image by Masbet Christianto on Pixabay

The traditional method still practiced in many parts of Java involves hand-drawing designs using hot wax on prepared cloth with a special tool called a cantin. Designs tend to follow standardized patterns, some of which have been preserved for centuries.

Quality comes at a price

The wax is used to cover those areas of the design be protected from the dye. (Imagine drawing in negatives.) After the cloth has been dyed additional areas are also covered with wax and the cloth is dyed again with a second colour of dye. This process continues until all colours have been added and it can take as long as six-months (or more) to complete and can fetch prices close to USD 4,000 for one sarong.

Early in the last century, copper blocks called tjiap (pronounced ‘chap’) were developed and used to stamp the patterns in wax onto the cloth to speed up the process but they’re also considered to be of a lower quality.

Image by Agto Nugroho on Unsplash
Making Batik with a copper block. Image by Agto Nugroho on Unsplash

Batik and celebrities

It’s true to say Indonesians are in love with Batik but the trend has spread across the world and really hit the big time in terms of global exposure with Nelson Mandela sporting some beautifully designed Batik shirts in his meetings with world leaders.

In more recent times Hollywood stars and fashion designers such as Donna Karan, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, and Kenzo are also incorporating Batik into cool, chic designs.

Are you proud to wear Batik?

If you are and you want to shout about it, please send us your photo in Batik and we’ll feature it on our website and social media platforms. We’d love to hear from you.


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Andrzej Barski

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Andrzej is Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia. He was born in the UK to Polish parents and has been living in Indonesia for more than 33-years. He is a skilled writer, trainer and marketer with a deep understanding of Indonesia and its many cultures after spending many years travelling across the archipelago from North Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

His experience covers Marketing, Branding, Advertising, Publishing, Real Estate and Training for 5-Star Hotels and Resorts in Bali and Jakarta, which has given him a passion for the customer experience. He’s a published author and a regular contributor to local and regional publications. His interests include conservation, eco-conscious initiatives, spirituality and motorcycles. Andrzej speaks English and Indonesian.

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He was Co-owner and CEO of the Paradise Property Group for 10-years and led the company to great success. He is now Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia offering market entry services for foreign investors, legal advice, sourcing of investments and in particular real estate investments. He has a soft spot for eco-friendly and socially sustainable projects and investments, while his personal business strengths are in property law, tourism trends, macroeconomics, Indonesian government and regulations. His personal interests are in sport, adventure, history and spiritual experiences.

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Ridwan is one of Indonesia’s top executives with a long and illustrious career in the financial world. He holds several professional certifications including being a Certified Business Valuer (CBV) issued by the Australian Academy of Finance and Management; Broker-Dealer Representative (WPPE); and The Directorship Certification for Directors and Commissioners, issued by the Indonesian Institute of Commissioners and Directors.

His experience includes being the Managing Director at one of the top investment banking groups in the region, the Recapital Group, the CFO at State-owned enterprises in fishery industry and the CEO at Tanri Abeng & Son Holding. He’s also been an Independent Commissioner in several Financial Service companies and on the Audit and Risk Committee at Bank BTPN Tbk, Berau Coal Energy Tbk, Aetra Air Jakarta as well as working for Citibank, Bank Mandiri and HSBC. His last position was as CFO at PT Citra Putra Mandiri – OSO Group.

Ridwan has won a number of prestigious awards including the Best CFO Awards 2019 (Institute of Certified Management Accountant Australia-Indonesia); Asia Pacific Young Business Leader awarded by Asia 21 Network New York USA (Tokyo 2008); UK Alumni Business Awards 2008 awarded by the British Council; and The Most Inspiring Human Resources Practitioners’ version of Human Capital Magazine 2010.

He’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Law, Trisakti University, Co-Founder of the Paramadina Public Policy Institute and actively writes books, publications and articles in the mass media. He co-authored “Korupsi Mengorupsi Indonesia” in 2009, which helps those with an interest in understanding governance in Indonesia and the critical issue of corruption. Ridwan speaks Indonesian and English.

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Per is the Managing Director of the Seven Stones Indonesia (SSI) Jakarta office and has more than 25-years’ experience in Indonesia, China, and Western Europe. He previously worked in senior management positions with Q-Free ASA, Siemens AG, and other companies in the telecom sector. Over the last six years, he has been the Chairman of the Indonesia-Norway Business Council (INBC) and recently become elected to be on the board of EuroCham Indonesia.

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