Characteristics & Distinctive Designs of Keraton Cirebon’s Batik

Characteristics & Distinctive Designs of Keraton Cirebon’s Batik

Blog contributor: Dr. H. Komarudin Kudiya

Keraton Cirebon’s batik has distinct characteristics and colour structure using simple colour schemes and patterns. Fabrics background are usually set in a typical beige or ivory background design with distinctive “babar mas” technique, similar to the colour of the gilded carriage of the Singa Barong design. (Irianto, 2012: 8).

Keraton Cirebon’s batik patterns, in general, can be analysed from the composition of their patterns and colour schemes, which are very distinctive, and are not found in many other Batik designs from other regions of Indonesia. Keraton Cirebon’s batik has many special characteristics, particularly in the use of fabric background colours such as golden ivory & soft yellow, and the final patterns (designs) are normally given in deeper dark colours such as black or brown. 

The soft yellowing coloration on the fabric is usually caused by the use of the large quantity of wax (malem) during the design process. The use of the high quantity of wax on the fabric is normally done when blocking a large part of the fabric in order to prevent colour smudging during the application of the dark colour patterns. Another characteristic found in Keraton Cirebon batik is that many areas of the fabric are left blank, and often designed with very fine lines and this technique called the “Wit” technique by the Batik society here in Indonesia.

From my own experience and understanding, most people within the Indonesian Batik societies recognise that Cirebon batik artists have very advanced skills when dealing with the “wit” techniques, whilst central Java Batik artists are still the leaders in the filling and designing of the background. in Java this process called “tanahan/rentesan”. I have to admit that the Pekalongan batik artists are very skilled with the use of tanahan/rentesan techniques: although we might find some comparable ability by batik artists in other parts of Central Java, there is no match to the talents of artists in Pekalongan. This is, of course, a personal view where other might differ in their opinions.

When making batik, Keraton Cirebon’s Batik artists rarely apply any background design, as they do in Central Java. There are two distinct logical reasons into why Keraton Cirebon batik artists do not apply any background designs.

§  1st reason: Avoiding heavy filling/background design on the fabrics, so that the “Wit” line/design is clearly visible on the finished textile. The Cirebon batik artists believe that the use of heavy “rentesan/tanahan” will conceal the beauty of the “Wit” lines.

§  2nd reason: is related to a psychological perception of the artists, where the artists believe in the important of peaceful and unobstructed minds during the creation process.

No Cirebon batik which is categorised as genuine Cirebon batik was designed using colours that are used by the coastal batik artists. In general, Keraton batik is produced using the “babaran” technique ie. “Sogan gosok” technique and the “Babar Emas” technique. When you see Keraton Cirebon batik designed using colours other than the usual brown or black colour themes, it is obvious that these designs are influenced by the coastal batik designs.

Varieties of Keraton Cirebon’s Batik designs can be grouped based on their symbolic meaning, mythological symbols or Spiritual significants:

1). Symbolic meanings include the following:
Patran Kembang, Patran Keris, Lenggang Kangkung, Dalungan, Simbar Kendo, Simbar Dalung, Simbar Menjangan, Keblekan, Daun Kluwih, Daun Waru, Oyod Mingmang, Sumping Darawati, Sumping Kresna Galaran, Taman Arum Kasepuhan, Taman Sunyaragi, Taman Alas Gunung Jati, Rajeg Wesi, Wadas Gerompol, Wadas Mantingan, Panji Semirang, Sawat Penganten, Sawat Romo, Sawat Riwe (teladan), Sawat Gunting, Balongan, Banjar Balong, Banjar Barong, Sawat Penganten Sunat, Ayam Alas Gunung Jati, Ayam Katewono, Ayam Walik Sawunggaling, Babon Angrem, Mega Mendung dan Mega Sumirat.

2). Mythological symbols include the following:
Paksi Naga Liman, Singa Barong, Naga Seba, Singa Payung, Naga Utah-utahan, Sawung Galing, Bouroq, Wadas Singa (Kanoman), Urang Supit, Ceplok Bintulu, Singa Kanoman, Singa Banaspati dan Sawat Gledek.

3). Spiritual significance include the following:
Patran Kangkung, Masjid Trusmi, Taman Teratai, Taman Arum Pakungwati, Siti Inggil Kanoman, Insan Kamil, Gunung Giwur, Gedongan Sunyaragi, Lawang Gada, Gapura (Gofuran), Puser Bumi dan Keprabonan.

The above are some of the images of Keraton Cirebon Batik with their distinct characteristics. If yuo have any questions about West Java Batik, or Batik Cirebon in particular, please feel free to ask questions on the comment below.  Many thanks for taking the time to read this article.



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