“Pekalongan” | BATIK: Pattern Of Life

Hello guys,

Have you ever heard about P-E-K-A-L-O-N-G-A-N ?…some of you might be familiar, and some of you might be clueless about those name.

In fact, not many people know what It is or where It was so let’s use this moment to know a bit about a city where Its history and resident life wrote on the top of the fabric.

Pekalongan is a city in Central Java, Indonesia. It was formerly the seat of Pekalongan Regency on the northern coast of the province but is now an independent municipality within the province.

The city is Central Java’s most important port since 17th Century, thus made pekalongan a fascinating city, due to Its multicultural resident (Chinese, Javanese, Indian-Arab, Dutch and Japanese ancestry).


Not only well known as Java’s most important port but Pekalongan also well known for Its Textile Industry, especially “Batik” (one of Indonesia national heritage).

Thus made Pekalongan “City of Batik”, and since December 2014,  become a member of UNESCO’s World’s Creative Cities Network (the first Indonesian city, and first South East Asian city listed as a member of UNESCO’s World’s Creative Cities Network).

Talk about batik, did you guys know what Batik is? The word “Batik” driven from Javanese word “amba” that means to write and “titik” that means a dot.

It referred to a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, or cloth that being made using this method. It was made either by drawing dots and lines of the wax resists with a spouted tool called a “Canting” or by printing the wax resists with a copper stamp called “Cap”.

The wax resists dyeing of fabric is an ancient art form. It is already existed in Egypt in the 4tth BC, in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), in India and Japan during the Nara period (645 – 794 AD), and on Nigeria by Yoruba, and in Senegal by Soninke and Walof tribe.

It developed in the Indonesian Archipelago during the Dutch colonial period, and most highly developed in the Island of Java, especially in Cirebon, Tegal, and Pekalongan, simply because all of the materials for the process (Cotton, Beeswax, and plants for Its dye) are readily available.

Pekalongan Batik Categorized as “Coastal Batik” or in the Indonesian language “Batik Pesisir” that entirely different with the “Inland Batik” / “Batik Pedalaman” such as Batik from Jogja or Solo.

What made Batik in Pekalongan unique and different is Its Color and Pattern. The colour that been used in Pekalongan Batik usually more bold and vibrant, such as  Ember, Burgundy, Crimson, Coral, Emerald Green, Ultramarine, etc. they also used some unique complementary colour such as Citrine Yellow, Vermillion, Mahogany Red, Viridian green, etc.

As for its pattern, there is four major Style that Pekalongan Batik is well known for:

  • “Buketan Bunga” / Van Zuylen Flower Bouquet: 

Brought to Pekalongan by Van Zuylen siblings (Eliza and Lies) on 1880, Usually made in Buketan Format / Flower Bouquet format on Kain Panjang.

The pattern that used here is mainly flower (Roses, Lilly, Orchid, Iris, Jasmine, and Tulip), and animal (Butterfly, Peacock, and Swan).

  • “Encim”Oey Soe Tjoen:

Maden in “Sekar Jagad” Format that consists of buketan, vines, and cluster of flower pattern.

The word Sekar Jagad driven from the Javanese language “Sekar” means Flower, and “Jagad” means Universe, which translated into Flower Universe. Simply because this Batik is Full of flower pattern from corner to corner.

Chrysant is the most common flower that used in Batik Encim because it symbolised prosperity and elegance.

Aside from Chrysant flower, Batik Encim also used animals such as Chinese Phoenix, swallow, and butterfly.

The Chinese Phoenix, symbolised beauty & suavity of a woman, it also symbolised good energy, Swallow symbolised Happiness because it was marking the beginning of springs seasons, and Butterfly as a symbol of everlasting love.

In ancient times, this Batik was used in Marriage proposal, and wedding related things.

  • “Hokokai”/ Java Hokokai: 

It was a style that developed during the Japanese occupation period in Indonesia. This batik usually made in Pagi-Sore format (One fabric that has two different motive, pattern, and colour) because around that time cotton cloth is relatively rare and expensive.

Motives that beeing used in Hokokai Batik are usually consisted of flowers (Chrysanthemum and cherry blossom) and animal (Peacock, Crane, and butterfly)

The crane pattern symbolised prosperity and longevity, but a crane that looked to the sky expressed grief. This particular design used in mourning time.

As you can see Hokokai, Encim, and Eliza used the flower as their pattern. It is because the flower considered as a symbol of Happiness, Kindness, Pureness and Loveliness.

  • “Jlamprang”: 

A batik style that developed during the arrival of Indian – Arab merchant on Pekalongan port. This batik usually made on the Ceplokan pattern, and use cap/stamp, instead of canting / batik spouted pen.

The motives that found in this batik is usually a geometric pattern consist of basic shapes such as square and circle that being arranged to resemble Padma flower or another geometric and flower shape.

As you can see, Batik isn’t just about a cloth or pattern or a process. Batik is more than that. It was a glimpse of life written on a piece of fabric, thus made each batik unique and special on its own.

If you love Batik, you should consider Pekalongan as your next destination.

Before I closed today’s post, Here’s some Tips & Tricks for you who planning to visit Pekalongan:

  • It wasn’t that hard to reach Pekalongan; you could use Local Train and Bus or Travel service to get to Pekalongan. It’s approximately ± 5 hour land travel from Indonesia Capital City “Jakarta”.
  • The Main Language of Pekalongan is Javanese, Central Java style which is more polite and delicate.
  • Pekalongan, like other coastal cities in Indonesia, has hot and humid weather (around 24 – 33°C), so short and cotton short might be a good idea, instead of jeans and long sleeve shirt.

That’s for today, kindly share this blog on Facebook, or Twitter if you found this blog useful because Sharing is caring and also let’s connect through Instagram or Snapchat @edcharmain and my Twitter: @edvisored for more update about what happened recently.

Cheers !! 😉

Kind Regards,

Your Edvisored.

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