Destinasi Budaya

The Influence of Majapahit Kingdom Culture in Bakaran Batik from Pati

Talking about batik is a never ending topic, especially considering the rich variety of batik from Sabang to Merauke. One of the famous batik in Pati, Central Java, is Batik Bakaran. Nyi Banoewati became the figure behind the creation of this Bakaran Batik. Her skills in batik writing were transferred to the people of Bakaran Village. She was the guardian of the heirloom museum and the maker of soldier uniforms at the end of the 14th century Majapahit Empire. At that time, Batik Bakaran became a commodity of inter-island trade through the Juwana Port and became a clothing trend for officials of Kawedanan Juwana.

The History of Bakaran Batik

In the 14th century during the Majapahit Kingdom, lived a royal servant named Nyi Banoewati. She worked as a tailor for royal soldiers. It was during the time of the war between the Kingdom of Majapahit (Hindu Kingdom) and the Kingdom of Demak (a new Islamic kingdom in Java at that time), Nyi Banoewati ran away from the Majapahit region because she converted to Islam which was banned at that time. She went along the northern coast of Java with her brothers.

Finally they stopped in the swampy area between West Java and East Java, they decided to stay there but then quarreled about who would get the largest piece of land. Nyi Banoewati only received a small piece of land. Then her brothers each gave a piece of their land by burning the swamps, the land to be acquired depended on the extent of the burning ash of the swamp that flew in the wind. As it turned out, the wind was blowing so fast that Nyi Banoewati got a large piece of land. The piece of land that was finally owned by her was then called “Bakaran” (burnt). Nyi Banoewati who lived in the village of “Bakaran” then taught the local community how to make batik.

Batik Bakaran – Image by: Forbis -
Batik Bakaran – Image by: Forbis

The uniqueness of Bakaran Batik

Batik Bakaran distribution on Java Island spread to Rembang, Kudus and Surabaya regions. The characteristics that dominate the classic Batik Bakaran are black, dark blue, white and dark brown with the term burnt. Whereas bright colors became a choice of modern patterns. The making of Batik Bakaran has a distinctive process and technique that starts from nggirah, nyimplong, ngering, nerusi, nembok, medel, nyolet, mbironi, nyogo and nglorod. The stages are carried out manually by craftsmen without any help of new tools such as stamp, printing, screen printing and so on. This unique technique that is carried out for Bakaran Batik is the crushing on the mori (batik cloth) that has been drawn with the malam (wax) before being dyed. Broken malam, crushed, produce abstract motifs of fine fibers used as the background of cloth.

In the past, before the batik making process began there were rituals carried out by the craftsmen. They undergo fasting, there were three days, one week, one month and 40 days. After fasting, the craftsman performs meditation (nyep) with the aim of getting inspiration so that one day without realising it they would get in their mind the image of the batik pattern that should be made. Usually the pattern described the condition of the community and gave a moral message to the community. There is also a description of the craftsman’s background himself. So, every batik pattern must have intent and purpose. There were always messages contained in the motive.

The specialty of Batik Bakaran which is coastal written batik (not printed) is seen in terms of its ornaments, motifs and colors. Batik bakaran which includes typical coastal motifs including Blebak Urang motif, Loek Chan and Bandeng. Crushed or cracks became the hallmark of coastal Batik Bakaran which are used as symbols of harmonious relationships and togetherness between people. In marriage relationship this is to symbolize happiness and eternity.

Motif Lung Kupu Bakaran – Image: kepulauanbatik
Motif Lung Kupu Bakaran – Image: kepulauanbatik

Bakaran Batik Motif

The batik motifs taught by Nyi Banoewati are Majapahit batik motifs, namely Sekar Jagat, Padas Gempal, Magel Ati and Limaran. Aside from those, there is also a special motif that she created herself, the Gandrung motif inspired by her meeting with her lover named Joko Pakuwon in Tiras Pandelikan. At that time Nyi Banoewati who was working on a batik became very happy when she welcomed the arrival of Joko Pakuwon. She was so happy that Nyi Banoewati’s hand accidentally crossed the batik cloth with a canting containing the malam wax. The streaks form short stripes. In time, she perfected these lines into cross-motifs that symbolize deep joy or longing. The coloring of the motif must use natural ingredients such as tall tree bark that produces brown, wood for yellow color and kudu root for brown color. Unfortunately, these dyes have been difficult to find. Despite the difficulties of finding the coloring materials, there has never been any lack of Batik Bakaran enthusiasts.

At present, the Bakaran residents not only preserving the Nyi Banoewati motif, there are also contemporary motifs such as Pohon Druju (Juwana), Gelombang Cinta, Kedele Kecer, Jambu Alas and Blebak Urang. In the end, the hallmark of Batik Bakaran is its cracked pattern. Batik Bakaran is already patented by the Directorate General of IPR as Pati’s batik motif. There are 17 classic motifs in all, there are Blebak Kopik, Rawan, Liris, Pecah, Truntum, Gringsing, Sidomukti, Sidorukun, Limaran and others motifs. Every Thursday and Friday in Pati District, Batik Bakaran becomes the clothing of civil servants.

Motif Kawung Bakaran – Image by: kepulauanbatik -
Motif Kawung Bakaran – Image by: kepulauanbatik

Bakaran Batik Seller

Bakaran is the name of the village that produces Batik Bakaran, in Juwana District, Pati Regency, Central Java. This village is divided into two, namely Bakaran Wetan and Bakaran Kulon. If you are curious to see this batik, you can visit Jl. Bakaran Kulon Rt. 01 Rw. 01, Juwana, Pond Area, Bakaran Wetan, Pati, Pati Regency, Central Java 59185. Bakaran village is located near the small town of Juwana, to get to the city of Pati you can travel overland from Semarang to the east through the cities of Demak and Kudus. The trip was traveled in a distance of approximately 82 km. From the city of Pati, the journey continues eastward towards the city of Juwana, which is approximately 14 km.

The Difficulty of Finding a Young Batik Maker

Even though Batik Bakaran is in demand, there is something sad behind it. The craftsmen lacked young batik workers. Most batik artists are already in their golden years, around the age of 50 and above. They hope that with the help of the government there will be as many batik workers as possible through vocational schools. The high demand for batik is not balanced with the number of batik workers. It is rather sad so hopefully more and more local young people are interested in pursuing the profession of batik making, so that this batik will not only remain a history but also always be sustainable.

Written by: Oase Kirana Bintang

“Love is like a batik created from many emotional colors, it is a fabric whose pattern and brightness may vary.”
~ Diane Ackerman

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