Indonesian Traditional Fabrics (I)

Do you know that Indonesia has a lot more than just kain Batik as our traditional fabrics? If you love Batik, you will definitely love these other traditional fabrics that we have, that are as beautiful as Batik. After we learned about the differences between Batik and Tenun (two of the most famous fabrics in Indonesia), now let’s get to know about other fabrics a little better! And I tell you what, this is just the first part. Enjoy!

Traditional Fabrics 1BATIK
I bet each and every one of you has at least one piece of clothing which has a batik printed pattern on it. Batik is really well known in Indonesia (and around the world, really), we often wear it for formal occasions and some companies also require their staffs to wear Batik once a week, usually on Thursday or Friday.

Batik is one of many traditional fabrics created by Indonesians, originally from Java. Batik is made using a white mori cloth for its base material and then the batik pattern will be drawn with a tool called “canting” that is filled with wax. Batik patterns are not only beautiful, but they also contain many different symbols and meanings, based on at what area they were created. (photo source:

Kain Tenun Ikat is cotton textiles that are renowned for their beauty and the great variety of patterns and motifs. The weavers spin the cotton, make the natural dyes and design the traditional resist-dye patterns and motifs. Before weaving, they arrange the threads first, so that later the pattern will be easily adjusted based on how it want to be made. The weaving process itself still uses Alat Tenun Bukan Mesin. Indonesian areas that are famous for their kain Tenun Ikat are Sintang, Toraja, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Jepara, and Flores.

Kain Ulos is one of Indonesian traditional fabric made by the Batak. It is one of their very strong culture and traditions. For people in Batak, kain Ulos is a symbol of blessing, compassion, and unity — and they always wear them for traditional ceremonies. Usually kain Ulos comes in the form of scarves to complement Batak’s traditional costume. From the way it is made, Kain Ulos uses fine woven fabrics and does not use machines to make it. The dominant colors that are widely used for kain Ulos are red, white, and black, decorated with gold or silver threads. (photo source:

Songket is a traditional fabric that belongs to the brocade family. The most famous Songket maker comes from Palembang (Sumatera Selatan) and the most famous songket works are from West Sumatera. The beautiful kain Songket that is hand-woven in silk or cotton, is intricately patterned with silver or gold threads, creating a shimmering effect. They are very beautiful, no wonder so many tourist always have eyes on Songket everytime they come to West Sumatra.

Kain Tapis is one of the traditional fabrics that comes from Lampung. Kain Tapis is embroidered using traditional tools. Generally, kain Tapis has zigzag, pyramid, or flora and fauna patterns. Unlike kain Batik, kain Tapis is rarely used for making dresses or shirts, since it is often used for formal occasions only. Also, the average price of kain Tapis starts from around one million rupiah.

Now you know that Indonesian traditional fabrics are very valuable. Each and every one of them has their own symbols and meanings. Therefore, we as Indonesians must be proud of what we have. We will create some styling ideas soon, so that we can start wearing these beautiful traditional fabrics from now on.

for Indonesian Traditional Fabrics Part II, click here.

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