ITS–Indonesia is the largest archipelago country in the world with more than 17,500 islands scattered along the 4800 kilometers between Asia and Australia. Therefore, Indonesia is one of the most artistically and culturally diverse places in the world. Every ethnic group in Indonesia has its own characteristics in their traditional clothing which, of course, are equipped with traditional unique cloth, creating a wonderful cultural heritage.
Kain Tenun (Woven cloth) is made with developed ikat technique and it is a characteristic of the population in Nusa Tenggara, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and some areas in Sumatra. Kain Songket (Songket cloth) is developed in most areas of Sumatra, whileKain Batik (Batik Cloth) helps identify the Javanese as a unique culture. Sulam and embroidery are widely used in West Sumatra and eventually spread to other parts of Indonesia. All of these traditional textiles help make Indonesia the culturally rich place that it is.
This high cultural value of traditional fabricscomes from the aesthetics, symbolic meaning, and the underlying behind its construction. The diversity and uniqueness of the decorative woven cloth is clearly reflected in the elements associated with the veneration of ancestors and natural grandeur. Each region has distinctive features in the design that are associated with the socio-cultural function of the area. Within each family or religious ritual, a piece of woven fabric is almost always very important.
The history of batik in Indonesia began to develop in the sultanate of Mataram XVIII,during the Surakarta era. Batik was initially made in the palace to meet the clothing demands of the king, his family and his followers. As many of the king’s courtiers lived outside the palace, the art of batik was brought out of the king’s palace and produced in their own palaces. That is when batik developed into popular folk clothes. For the Javanese, a piece of batik is not just a piece of cloth for clothing, but isused throughout their lives in dance, drama and fashion arts.
Compared to other traditional types of cloth, batik is most influenced by the Chinese, especially its ornamnetal patterns. Chinese-style decorative patterns such as the dragon, phoenix, gold kepeng, butterflies, bats, peony flower and bamboo are the most widely used. The ornamental patterns are used mostly in the batik from the coastal areas along the northern coast of the island of Java. Many Chinese descendents involved in the batik industry become very well-established in their field.