Cirebon Batik

Cirebon is located in the Northern part of Java, in the past was known as a busy transit port in Java. The port used to be visited by foreign and local ships including those from Madura, Lasem, Jambi and many others. Cirebon was also known to be one of few Sultanes in Nusantara which inherited palaces known as Kesepuhan Palace and kanoman Palace. History also noted that one of nine leaders who spread Islam in Java, so called Wali Sanga, Sunan Gunung Jati came from the Cirebon Sultanate. The multi-cultural influences melting in Cirebon drove the arts and cultures in Cirebon, including the arts of Batik.

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In Batik motif, the influence of Chinese cultures combined with the Arabs, Hindu’s and the local’s can be seen at the application of illusive animal called peksi liman dragon and the barong lion, common seen in Batik made in Cirebon. Peksi liman dragon is an imaginative animal appears to be the combination of bird, dragon, and elephant. Dragon represents the Chinese influence, whereas elephant represents Ganesha from the Hindu cultures. The barong lion appears to be a flying horse (described as bouraq as mentioned in Islamic scriptures), combined with lion’s nail and elephant’s nose. The two imaginative animals were carved at the the caravans used in the Cirebon Sultanes.

Batik keraton Cirebon generally made in chromatic sogan, black, dark blue and ecru (Cirebon’s yellow). Similar to Solo and Java Batik, the motif of Cirebon’s Batik were usually influenced by Javanese Hindu cultures. There are two major catagories of Cirebon’s motifs, one is known to be  batik worn by punggawa and the servants and subordinates in the palace. The motifs tend to be big, strong and contrass, whereas the smaller motifs tend to be worn by the royal families. The semen rama motif, sawat pengantin, liris seno and patran were known as the the royal motifs

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The influence of Islam in batik Cirebon can also be seen at the Arabs scriptures at the banners, shawls and head covers. The Middle East geometry and the use of bouraq and mosque’s tower also confirmed the presence of Islamic influence in Cirebon batik.

The Chinese influence is also bold in Cirebon Batik. Beside the use of Chinese motifs such as banji, kilin, turtles and many others, many motifs in Cirebon batik also apply the use of Chinese style clouds. In Cirebon we can find many batik merchants are those of Chinese descendant. They tend to produce batik with red, blue, green and white dominance.

The influence of Solo – Yogya batik can be seen at the ornament such as sawat, lar, and parang. The correlation between the three regions, Cirebon, Garut and Indramayu reflected in the same ornaments shared by the three regions. For example ornament of lereng areuy from Garut seems to be similar with liris patran kembang from Cirebon. Liris is commonly mentioned in Garut, and parang is popular in Solo and Yogya. The simmilarity between Cirebon Batik and Indramayu batik can be seen from the similarity of lengko-lengko motif from Cirebon with obar abir motif in Indramayu.

Geographical position of Cirebon in coastal area also shared influence at Cirebon Batik reflected in the use of ornaments featuring marine life such as fish, shrimp, algae, and sea grass.

The specific color of Cirebon Batik is called Cirebon’s Yellow. [Olin/Batik Image Source:Sukma Jawa - de ziel van Java - the soul of Java by Fred W. van Oss (1996)]

 
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