3 Types of Batik in Indonesia: A Traditional Artform

If you’re interested in traditional art, you must check out batik. This form of art is unique to Indonesia and can be found all over the country.

There are three types of batik in Indonesia: hand-written, stamped, and printed.

In this blog post, we will discuss the specification and processes of each type of batik. We will also show some stunning examples of each type!

What is Batik?

batik art painting
A beautiful batik art form. Credit: canva

Batik is a form of art that uses wax and dye to create designs on fabric. It is a wax-resist dyeing technique that creates bold, multi-colored patterns.

This batik is an ancient form of art that has been around for centuries. It involves applying melted wax to the fabric and then dyeing the fabric. The wax resists the dye, resulting in patterns on the dyed fabric.

The word “batik” comes from the Javanese word “tik,” which means “dot.” This is because the earliest form of batik was created by dotting the fabric with wax.

3 Types of Batik in Indonesia, Based on the Making Techniques

Three types of batik are based on the batik techniques: hand-written (batik tulis), stamped (batik cap), and printed (batik printing).

All are part of Indonesian cultural heritage with a high value and art fusion. Besides, it is rich with philosophical symbols and meanings.

The following article helps you understand fun facts about different types of batik. Here is some information that you can learn.

Hand-written (Batik Tulis )

batik making
Making hand-written batik with tjanting. Credit: canva

Hand-written batik is the most traditional form of batik. It is also the most time-consuming and expensive type of batik.

Here are five interesting facts you should know about Batik Tulis.

Historical Background

The original word batik comes from the Javanese word. It combines two words, “amba” means writing, and “tik” means point. So, the term “batik” means writing points.

The first batik was found in Egypt in the 12th century AD. Then it spread to other countries in Asia, such as India and China. Batik arrived in Indonesia around the 16th century.

At first, batik was only worn by royalties and nobles. But now, everyone can enjoy wearing batik!

Canting (Tjanting) Tulis Technique

Tjanting tools and the pan for the hot wax. Credit: canva

The tjanting is a batik design tool that may be used to apply the wax to the cloth. The tjanting is a tiny, pointed instrument used to apply the wax to the fabric.

Canting Tulis technique requires a person with high artistic skill. Due to its complexity, this technique takes almost a year to finish. Through a long process, it gives this Indonesian fabric a high value.

How does canting tulis technique work?

  • The first step is to sketch the desired batik pattern on paper. After that, the artist will use a small copper tool called canting to draw the wax onto the fabric. The size of canting is only about 0.35 cm – 0.50 cm. So, it requires high accuracy and patience.
  • The next step is to dye the fabric. The color of the dye will be absorbed by the material, except for the parts covered in wax.
  • Finally, the wax will be removed from the fabric, and your beautiful hand-written batik is ready!

This technique shares some advantages. First, there is no same pattern for each artwork. Second, there is the initial name of the artist on the fabric.

Colet Technique

An interesting fact about Batik Tulis informs us about Colet as a popular batik-making technique. The method is similar to painting the batik pattern on the cloth. It is complex, detailed, and beautiful.

Colet technique is the coloring process of a particular design part of batik tulis. This batik colet uses the technique of incising hot colored wax with a brush or writing tool onto a plain white or mori cloth.

It is usually done after the hand-written basic design is finished.

Unique Characteristics

The most popular unique characteristic of Batik Tulis is its smell of batik wax. It makes Batik Tulis have better quality. Additionally, the design is unique and has no same pattern.

The Most Expensive Type

Due to the complex and detailed method, Batik Tulis has become the most expensive one. The reasons are because of its long and manual process. It takes longer than other batik types.

Moreover, the artists are skillful people. They can create a beautiful and unique model. Its valuable price is equal to the pattern that one can get.

How to Use It

You can use Batik Tulis for special events, such as weddings or Islamic events. It is also suitable to be used in a meeting with high-class guests.

This type of batik can make you look more elegant and beautiful. You will get many compliments if you wear it on the right occasion!

Stamped (Batik Cap)

batik stamp
Block wax application for making stamped batik. Credit: canva

Stamped batik is made by pressing a wooden or copper stamp tool, called a cap, into wax that has been melted and applied to the fabric.

The brief below information about Batik Stamp may be helpful for you.

The Artists

Compared to the Batik Tulis process, Batik Cap takes men to work on it. This happens because it requires the power to stamp the batik pattern into the fabric. Thus, it only allows men to create batik Cap.

Tool Used

stamp batik
Stamps. Credit: canva

The word Cap means Stamp. Thus, this batik type uses stamping the batik pattern on the top of the fabric. It is similar to how we stamp on paper.

The stamp (cap) tool is usually made of copper with a standard dimension of 20 x 20 cm with multiple patterns.

There are also various types of BatikCap patterns. All of them use a very flat base and thin tools. Then, one stamps batik wax on the fabric and makes the surface area covered with the resin.

The Advantages

This technique also shares some advantages. First, it covers more area on the fabric with the same coverage pattern.

Aside from that, the process is quick and less expensive. It takes only one day to create an excellent Batik Cap. Because of that, this batik type can meet the public need for Batik cloth.

The downside is that the designs are not as precise as written batik.

Process of Making

stamp batik 3
Air-dry the stamp batik. Credit: canva
  • The first step is to put the fabric on the table.
  • After that, the artist will use a copper stamp tool to press it onto the melted wax.
  • The next step is to wait until the wax cools and hardens.
  • Finally, they will dye the fabric. The result will be a beautiful and unique batik cloth.

The Characteristics

Each batik cap has a repetitive pattern. The artist uses a copper stamp tool to press it onto the fabric. The upside is that this type of batik is cheaper and faster to make.

First, the artist takes a liquid hot wax. Then, continue by stamping it on the top of the fabric. The coloring process starts after the wax dries and absorbs on the other side of the cloth.

Different Patterns

stamp batik 2
Repetitive geometric patterns of batik cap. Credit: canva

There are many patterns of Batik Cap. The most common ones are geometric, plant, and animal patterns.

  • Geometric patterns usually consist of basic shapes such as circles, triangles, or squares. These shapes are then repeated to create a beautiful and unique design.
  • Plant patterns usually feature leaves, flowers, or trees. These patterns are often seen in traditional Javanese batik.
  • Animal patterns usually feature birds, snakes, or dragons. These patterns are often seen in Chinese-influenced batik.

How to Wear It

The batik cap is suitable for any event. You can wear it to a formal event or a casual event.

If you want to wear it to a formal event, you can pair it with a kebaya (a traditional Javanese blouse). If you wear it to a casual event, you can pair it with jeans and a T-shirt.

Nowadays, batik clothing is worn in various circles. It is not only used by certain people. It is more acceptable and affordable.

We can find some motives for batik in some areas of Java. Additionally, we can use it on different occasions, which is for formal and casual moments. Because of that, the pattern also grows and varies.

Printed Batik (Batik Printing)

batik print
Fabric printing machine. Credit: canva

Printed batik is the fastest and cheapest way to create a batik design. It is made by printing the wax design onto the fabric.

The information about Batik Prints below can be beneficial for you.

Technique Meaning

Apart from the above method, there is another technique for making batik. It is called a printing technique.

As the name suggests, it prints the pattern into the fabric. This technique allows us to get a beautiful batik at a competitive price.

Gain Popularity

batik shirt
credit: canva

Batik Printing was known to the public during the 70s. This method uses a printing machine to create a Batik. The printed patterns are prepared from the computer or the printing machines.

Due to its simple process and low price, this batik type has become popular. Nowadays, most commercial batik industries apply this technique to produce batik.

Batik Printing Machine

Unlike the above Batik method, this technique requires less effort from humans. It replaces human power and relies on the process of the machine.

We can see the pattern printing result on the fabric. We understand that it relies on machinery to complete a piece of Batik cloth.

Positive Things

Among all batik types, Batik Printing has a quicker production. It takes less time to produce one batik fabric than batik tulis.

Through this technique, we can create mass production of batik fabric. So, it helps a lot in fulfilling the public market needs.

Good Quality

Although it provides mass production, this batik has apparent patterns. Additionally, we can get more detailed batik fabric due to improved printing machinery.

That is why we will get Batik textiles of good quality. By improving the quality, all types of batik can be more popular.

The Downsides of Batik Printing

Even though it has many benefits, there are some downsides to this batik type.

  • The first one is that it uses a lot of chemicals in the printing process.
  • Second, the result is not as good as hand-drawn tulis batik.
  • Third, it is difficult to wash because the wax can spread everywhere
  • And fourth, many people, especially batik enthusiasts, don’t consider batik printing as authentic batik. Machines entirely operate the process, so it does not undergo the same method as the traditional batik.

However, we cannot deny that this batik type has helped the batik industry grow even more significantly. Moreover, it creates a new method for making batik.

Different Types of Batik Based on Traditional Patterns

Batiks are traditionally categorized according to their essential and symbolic patterns. Each pattern usually has several philosophical meanings.

Several of the most popular patterns include:

Kawung Batik

batik beginner making kawung
Making Kawung pattern. Credit: canva

The Kawung is a symbol of the sun’s rays. This batik pattern usually has a yellow or brownish color. It represents the ancient Javanese philosophy of life: honesty, humbleness, and simplicity.

The Kawung motif is frequently associated with the symbolism of authority and has many philosophical meanings. It was formerly used only by the Javanese royal court.

The amount of time the batik is left in the bath determines the hue of the color; darker colors require more extended periods or numerous immersions.

Batik Mega Mendung

mega mendung
Mega Mendung pattern. Credit: canva

This batik has a unique pattern. It is a combination of small circles which symbolize the drops of water. The Mega Mendung Batik usually has a blue or black color.

The Mega Mendung motif has numerous influences from Chinese culture, Arabic, and Javanese heritage. It is believed to bring luck and ward off bad luck or evil spirits.

People also believe that this batik can bring happiness and peace. It is also thought that the Mega Mendung motif can neutralize negative energy and bring positive energy.

Batik Sekar Jagad

The Sekar Jagad motif is one of Java’s most popular batik patterns. It has a stunning and elegant design. The Sekar Jagad motif is a combination of flowers and leaves.

This batik usually has a red or green color. The Sekar Jagad motif is believed to bring good luck, happiness, and prosperity. It is also thought to bring peace and harmony.

The Sekar Jagad motif has been popular since the 10th century.

Batik Parang Rusak

The Parang Rusak motif is one of Java’s most popular batik patterns. It has a lovely and elegant design. The Parang Rusak motif is a combination of flowers and leaves.

This batik usually has a red or green color. The Parang Rusak motif is believed to bring good luck, happiness, and prosperity. It is also thought to bring peace and harmony.

Batik Sidomulyo and Batik Sidomukti 

batik sidomukti
The Sidomukti Batik motif is usually used for a wedding ceremony. Credit: canva

The Sidomulyo and Sidomukti motifs are two of Java’s most popular batik patterns. They have exquisite designs. The Sidomulyo motif combines flowers and leaves, while the Sidomukti motif is a combination of geometric shapes.

The Sidomulyo and Sidomukti are commonly used on a wedding day. During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom generally wear a batik fabric with the Sidomulyo motif, hoping the family will thrive in the future.

Because the Sidomulyo and Sidolmukti batik patterns are identical, with only minor hue variations between them, the decorations and meanings of the two motifs are also similar.

Types of Indonesian Batik Based on Traditional Motifs

There are many standard traditional motifs in batik. It is also believed the motif made the batik famous.

Several of the most famous batik motifs are:

  • Sogan motifs
  • Asih motif
  • Biren leaf motif
  • Central Java-based motif
  • Decorative motif
  • Floral motifs
  • Grompol motif

Types of Indonesian Batik Based on the Regions

Batik Pesisir (Coastal batiks)

Batik from the north coast of Java, near Pekalongan and Cirebon (batik Pekalongan and Batik Cirebon), have been greatly influenced by Chinese culture and effect brighter colors and more intricate flower and cloud designs.

Cirebon, for example, saw a mixture of Sundanese and Javanese cultures due to its position at the border and histories involving kingdoms from both influencers.

Batik Jawa Timuran (East Java)

Batik from East Java features simple, large-scale patterns. It is believed that this batik style originated from Madura (Batik Madura).

East Javanese batik is characterized by its use of deep, natural colors such as brown, black, and maroon.

The most popular motifs in East Javanese batik include the kawung, parang, and sekar jagad motifs.

Inland Batik (Batik Jawa Tengah or Central Java)

Inland batik from Central Java uses natural dyes and simple patterns.

Traditional color schemes for Central Javanese batik were made from natural ingredients and consisted primarily of beige, blue, brown, and black.

This category includes Batik Yogya, Batik Solo, and Batik Jepara.

The most popular motifs in inland batik include the kawung, parang, and sekar jagad motifs.

Batik Jawa Barat (West Java)

Batik from West Java is known for using natural dyes and simple patterns. The color schemes are bright and more colorful.

This category includes Batik Bandung, Batik Garut, and Batik Ciamis.

Balinese Batik (Batik Bali)

Bali-style batik is characterized by its use of bright colors and intricate patterns.

The most popular motifs in Bali-style batik include the flower, bird, and geometric motifs.

Batik Aceh

Aceh-style batik is characterized by its use of dark colors and simple patterns.

The most popular motifs in Aceh-style batik include plant, animal, and human motifs.

Types of Batik Based on Color Scheme

Batik is available in a wide range of colors. Each design or motif has its standard colors or color schemes. However, they are generally earthy hues.

Here are several of the standard color schemes:

Modern Batik

Nowadays, batik is not only famous in Indonesia but also all over the world. Many famous fashion designers have used batik in their collections. And there are limitless designs of batik clothes.

The motifs of modern batik are also more varied. They can be inspired by anything, from nature to geometric shapes.

The colors are also more diverse, ranging from the traditional earthy hues to bright and bold colors. For modern batik fabrics, you can easily create a palette of brilliant colors ranging from light pastels to deep, vibrant hues.

Modern batik artists express themselves freely in a wide range of subjects. They often explore social and cultural issues in their art.

However, some still stick to the traditional motifs and colors. It all depends on the artist’s preference.

The Uses of Batik

The main use of batik is for kain panjang (sarong). This has been applied for centuries in Indonesia.

Aside from being used in clothing, batik can make various products, such as bags, scarves, tablecloths, and home decor items.

You can find batik-inspired artwork like wall hangings, paintings, and sculptures.

With its beauty and versatility, it’s no wonder that batik is one of Indonesia’s most popular and beloved art forms.

Batik Museums in Indonesia

Batik museum is designed to showcase several ancient batik and batik developments (contemporary) from time to time.

  • Museum Batik Pekalongan
  • Museum Batik Yogyakarta
  • Museum Batik Danar Hadi
  • Museum Batik Keraton Yogyakarta
  • Batik Gallery all over Indonesia


How many types of batik are there?

There are three main types of batik in Indonesia: hand-written, stamped, and printed.

What is the difference between Indonesian batik and Malaysian batik?

The main difference is in the production process. Indonesian batik is made using wax resist, while Malaysian batik uses a resist method.

What is the most famous batik?

The most famous batik is the Javanese batik. It is known for its intricate designs and beautiful colors.

What is the pattern of batik from Indonesia?

The patterns of Indonesian batik are usually inspired by nature, such as plants and animals.

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