8 Best Indonesia Souvenir: Batik Fabric

Batik, one of the traditional fabrics in Indonesia. 

Batik fabric is an excellent gift to take back home, as it really captures the true heart of Indonesian culture. Batik has been practiced for years and it is part of an ancient tradition. Some of the best textiles and fabric pieces in the world are made out of batik, which is a testament to just how magnificent these pieces really are. Batik fabric are a great souvenir to buy. Batik is a wax-resistant dyeing technique that has been practiced in Indonesia for many many years. Each region of Indonesia has its own patterns and colors. Many prints include animals, flowers, people, or folklore. It would be impossible to visit or live in Indonesia and not be exposed to one of the country’s most highly developed art forms, batik.

Batik Collection in Kaliuda Gallery one of Indonesia Souvenir

Batik Collection in Kaliuda Gallery | Source: Kaliuda Gallery

Batik Technique

Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to the whole cloth, or cloth made using this technique. Of Javanese origin, batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a “canting” or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap. The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to color selectively by soaking the cloth in one color, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colors are desired.

History of Batik Blog Post Kaliuda Gallery Bali 8 Best Indonesia Souvenir

History of Batik | Source: Google.com

Batik and the Culutures

A tradition of making batik is found in cultures such as Nigeria, China, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and most notably, Indonesia. Indonesian coastal batik (batik pesisir) made in the island of Java has a long history of acculturation, with diverse patterns influenced by a variety of cultures, and is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique, and quality of workmanship. In October 2009, UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In the same year, UNESCO also recognized “Education and training in Indonesian Batik intangible cultural heritage for elementary, junior, senior, vocational school and polytechnic students, in collaboration with the Batik Museum in Pekalongan” for the Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in Register of Good Safeguarding Practices List.

Batik is considered a cultural icon in modern Indonesia, where “National Batik Day” (in Indonesian: Hari Batik Nasional) is celebrated annually on October 2. Many Indonesians continue to wear batik on a daily basis for casual and formal occasions. 


Batik textile heritage has permeated the life of Indonesian society since the 5th century. For many centuries, Batik has been used to depict the great journey of human life: birth, marriage, and death. The wax-resist dyeing technique that characterizes Batik as an intangible cultural heritage has already existed since 5000 BC. Indonesia, most particularly the island of Java, is where batik has reached its peak. Here, Chinese, Arab, Indian and European traders bought and sold textiles, and batik is first specifically mentioned on a cargo bill in the mid-17th century. From around 1835, textile manufacturers in Holland started attempts to mechanize the production of batik using copper rollers and a resin resist. When the Javanese proved unwilling to buy this cloth, it made its way to West Africa, where it began life and a tradition of its own, one which continues to this day as “wax print”.

In Java, textile merchants responded to the threat by finding a way to speed up the time-consuming method of hand drawing the design. Wooden block printing was adapted to batik with the invention of copper stamps (or “tjaps” as they are known) to apply hot wax.

Batik in Europe

Imitation batik cloth was produced in numerous European textile printing companies throughout the 20th century, most notably in the UK and Holland, and to this day is still made in just one – Vlisco in Helmond, the Netherlands – a reminder of a colonial past.

In Europe, these exotic clothes sparked a wave of creativity. In the 1890s in Amsterdam, a group of young artists introduced the batik technique to interior decoration, furnishings, and later to fashion. This proved very successful, and from the beginning of the 20th century, batik was practiced by thousands of European and American artists and craftspeople. The peak of its popularity was between 1918 and 1925 when it was popular in Holland, Germany, France, Poland, and the UK.

The art of batik waned in the West until the 1960s when it was once more taken up, explored, and adapted by artists, including Noel Dyrenforth in London who was the founder of The Batik Guild. What started out in 1986 as a small group of Noel’s students has become an international collection of batik lovers, teachers, and artists. In Asia too, artists began to see the potential of their grandmother’s craft and now batik flourishes both as a traditional and as an innovative, completely contemporary art form loved and practiced by batik artists all over the world.

Indonesian Batik Fabric

Batik is the work of the Indonesian people which is a blend of art and technology by the ancestors of the Indonesian nation. Indonesian Batik fabric can develop to an incomparable level both in design/motif and process. Various types of batik that are full of meaning and philosophy will continue to be explored from various customs and cultures that develop in Indonesia. Batik motifs according to the Big Indonesian Dictionary, motifs are patterns or patterns. A motif is a pattern that is shaped in such a way as to produce a variety of forms.

Batik Collection by Kaliuda Gallery one of Indonesia Souvenir

Batik Collection by Kaliuda Gallery | Source: Kaliuda Gallery

Indonesia is an archipelagic country blessed with various different traditional fabrics. Rooted in hereditary traditions, each region in Indonesia has various types of woven clothes that dwell many philosophies and stories within them. Not to mention, some of them are highly valued as well. One of them is Batik. Woven fabrics are a part of Indonesia’s diverse cultural heritage and cannot be separated from its history.

Therefore, by exploring the stories behind these traditional fabrics, you get to learn about the values that are the identity of Indonesia. To give Batik as a gift is simply one of the perfect choices to bring home as souvenirs. In Kaliuda Gallery as one of the most trusted home decor shops in Bali, you can also check our other woven fabrics from Sumba, Java, and Bali. Don’t forget to check our next article about wayang. Don’t worry, we are still going to discuss Indonesia’s traditional weave in our next article as well. So make sure you stay tuned. 

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