“This batik is not Pekalongan Batik, mas, it’s called Sambilan Batik. While carrying children, while cooking,” answered Mrs. Uting when we asked the name of this Batik.
Even though we were seriously listening, our mother made us laugh! This batik is called Batik Rifaiyah. Batik made by a community in Kalipucang Village, Batang Regency, not far from Pekalongan city which is already very famous for its batik.
Rifaiyah batik is included in the category of coastal batik, not palace batik. Rifaiyah Batik has the characteristic of combining classic batik from Solo and Jogja, but with a splash of thick Pekalongan Batik shapes and colors. Therefore, one of the famous Batik motifs from Batang is the “Three Countries” Batik.
“For Batik Tiga Negeri, the cheapest is around 800 thousand rupiahs, if the expensive ones can reach 20 million rupiahs,” said Mrs. Uting.
Batik work here can take four months to a year. Depends on the difficulty level of the motif. It also depends on the busyness of the batik makers in the Rifaiyah Batik Community, because not all of them are “full-time” batik makers. That’s why the mother jokingly said this was called “Batik Sambilan”.
Each Batik in the region has its own characteristics. From motifs, colors, to patterns can vary. Usually describes the local wisdom of each. For Rifaiyah Batik itself, the motifs usually depict plants. There are rarely animal motifs because in Islamic teachings it is forbidden to describe living things except those from flora.
This is because the batik in Batang are mostly Muslims who adhere to the teachings of Islam, which was brought by the professor of the local Islamic Boarding School, namely KH. Ahmad Rifai. He was also a freedom fighter in colonial times and also a national hero. Rifaiyah’s name was taken from her name.
The mother told me that there was a customer from Japan who made batik from three countries into a rather ‘open’ dress. He was quite shocked because this batik should only be used as a long cloth, sarong, or scarf. But yes, he couldn’t do anything because it was the buyer’s right.
Ibu Uting has started learning batik since the age of 10. He admits that young people in Batang are now starting to leave the craft of this archipelago cultural heritage.
“I used to think that this batik was just the usual. Wong is a habit from childhood. But I was told by people that this batik research is the only one in the world. I just realized that we have inherited a very noble culture,” said the mother.
Ibu Uting also started to teach us batik. Still using a smooth canting made of very traditional bamboo. He began to heat the wax (candles) on a small frying pan using a charcoal stove as a heater.
His hand dexterously drew a flower. He deftly inserted the candle into the canting, blew it out and immediately drew without being printed with a pencil first. He drew a flower, complete with line and point motifs that made the flower more dimensional. Very quickly, my eyes barely blinked at the skill of the mother.
Then it was time for me and my friends to start making batik. “Ah, this is easy, just draw as usual,” I thought.
But it turns out I was wrong, this is not a normal drawing at all. No button undo if I’m wrong to draw on this canvas which is a cotton cloth. For some reason the wax is always dry in my canting so that my abstract motif becomes more random.
After quite a bit of concentration on batik, I finally found my results like this. Please don’t laugh :))
There are 24 basic motifs of Rifaiyah batik. They are pelo ati, box kitir, banji, sigar kupat, lancur, tambal, kawung ndog, kawung beard, dlorong, materos satrio, ila ili, gemblong sairis, dapel, nyah pratin, romo gendong, citrus no’i, conch, krokotan , lyrical, klasem, kluwungan, jamblang, gendaghan and wagean.
Although there are many, Rifaiyah’s batik motifs contain a lot of spiritual teachings and philosophies. Like for example the pelo ati motif. Ati (heart) describes commendable qualities, while pelo (giggle) describes the opposite. So that batik here is not only about beauty, but also contains messages of life.
After trying to make my own batik, I just realized how difficult it is to produce a truly handmade and traditional cloth. Very classy, different from machine-printed batik. Hopefully later I can buy original batik which is really made with painstaking hands and contains a lot of good meaning, no matter how expensive the price is.
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