Pekalongan, The Batik City

Indonesia counts 33 provinces, 19 of which produce batik, each with characteristic colours and designs. Indonesian batik was inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. For those interested in batik art the Batik Museum in Pekalongan is a must.

Pekalongan, the Batik City located on the north coast of Central Java, best known for its distinct colourful Batiks that are infused with Chinese influence, was officially included by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) into world’s  Creative Cities Network in the “Crafts and Folk Arts” category. Pekalongan is the first Indonesian city to have made it to this prestigious Network.

In 2009, Indonesian Batik, with its intricate process, and diverse designs  created throughout this archipelago containing deep philosophical values, was designated by UNESCO  an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.

The one outstanding sight is the Batik Museum. It houses one of the world’s most important collections, including many antique pieces, in a stately art-deco structure, the former old city hall. Here you can check out Pekalongan’s unique batik style, which is less formal, more colourful and more innovative in design than those in Central Java, with apparent influences from China, Arabia and Europe.

The lanes along Jl Blimbing in the north of the city form the city’s venerable Chinese quarter, with pagodas and old terraced houses. To the east, Jl Patiunus and the streets leading off it make up the Arab quarter, another good area for batik. Not far to the south is the town’s main batik market, Pasar Banjarsari.

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The museum was inaugurated on July 12, 2006, and owns a collection of over 1000 hand-made batiks from all over the archipelago, from Jambi to West Papua. Many of these are antiques, like those made by the Dutch lady Eliza van Zuylen (1863-1947). There are the well-known classical batiks from Yogya and Solo with their brown or black and indigo colours. And the more colourful styles from Pekalongan itself. Being the foremost centre of batik production on Java, Pekalongan has absorbed many influences and in the museum you can learn to differentiate Arab, Chinese and Dutch styles.

The history of Batik in Pekalongan begin haengju and split from in the neighborhood of Mataram Kingdom at that time led by King of Panembahan Senopati. War against Dutch colonial and the split among the Kingdom’s environment is indeed often happens, until at one point the most severe condition caused many families to seek refuge in King and settled a new didaerah-daerah to Pekalongan, among others. The families of the Kingdom are indeed has had a tradition of batik and batik work developed from this refuge to the area pengunsian in Pekalongan.


In the area of Pekalongan batik was eventually grew rapidly as in Pekajangan and Wonopringgo, Buaran. The Sultan’s family fled and took his followers to new areas, and place that batik continued and then into work for a livelihood. Batik motifs in a new area is customized with a State of the surrounding area.

Until the beginning of XX century the process of batik work is known by morinya batik material domestically and also some import. After World War one new known fabrication siwon and consumption of medicines abroad made Germany and United Kingdom.

At the beginning of the 20th century was first known in the weaving sector which produces Pekajangan is stagen and linen woven himself was simple. In recent years a new known batik work done by people who are working on this. disektor weaving sector. Growth and development of baju batik work more rapidly than weaving sector stagen and labour-labour ever sugar factory in Wonopringgo and Tirto run to the company’s own reward, because batiks higher than sugar factory.

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How to get there:

Pekalongan is located on the main Jakarta–Surabaya highway and train route. The bus terminal, 4km southeast of town, has frequent buses to Semarang

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