Lasem Batik Civilization in Indonesia

Lasem Batik Civilization in Indonesia

One of the famous batik centers in Indonesia, especially in Java, is Lasem. Located on the North Coast of Java, 130km from the city of Semarang, Lasem is unique in that it is believed to have mixed local culture with Chinese culture. History records, the first time Lasem was closely associated with the arrival of Admiral Chenh Ho, who was a warlord from the country of the bamboo curtain.

Told in the book Babad Lasem written by Raden Panji Kamzah in 1858, Admiral Cheng Ho’s crew named Bi Nang Un decided to stay in the Bonang area, Central Java. Together with his wife, Na Li Ni, he lives there and it is believed that Na Li Ni was the first to make batik cloth with dragon patterns, hong birds, currency, and Chinese red flags. Li Ni made the batik industry in Lasem flourish, and made Lasem a batik producer which was distributed throughout the archipelago with ship logistics. Not only domestically, apparently Batik Lasem is also popular and exported to foreign countries such as Thailand and Suriname.  

Also read: Indonesian Peranakan Batik

Lasem Batik Motif

Batik Lasem has four main motifs which are the icons and characteristics of Lasem itself.

1. Lasem Batik Motif Hong Bird

Lasem Batik Motif Hong Bird

The first famous motif is the Hong Bird. This motif, also known as the phoenix, is Fenghuang in Chinese mythology. Beautifully shaped like a peacock with charming wings, has five main philosophies such as loyalty, honesty, politeness, justice, and generosity.

2. Lasem Batik Motif Dragon

Lasem Batik Motif Dragon

The second motif is a dragon motif which is also a mythological animal from China which is a symbol of good luck. The dragon is a source of natural power, which is also used as a symbol empire of China. The main claws of the dragon usually number 3 or 4, but in the coat of arms of the emperor in China, there are 5 claws which until recently were the symbol of the emperor’s greatness. Ordinary people should not wear it carelessly, if they do not want to be punished by the Chinese emperor government. Naga is also popularly called Liong in Javanese society.

3. Lasem Batik Motif Mount Ringgit

Lasem Batik Motif Mount Ringgit

The third motif is the Mount Ringgit motif. The ringgit is the currency currently used by the Malaysian state. This beautiful motive means that if you want to gain wealth, you must get it in the right way without harming others. If this wealth is also used to help others, then the wealth will not end.

4. Lasem Batik Motif Watu Pecah

Lasem Batik Motif Watu Pecah

The fourth motif is the Watu Pecah motif or what is known as Kricak. This motif is depicted by a pile of large stones which are broken into small pieces. This is a description of the suffering of the Lasem people who were stone-breaking workers in the Daendels era.

Also read: Indonesian Batik Motif Ceplok Jamblang

An equally good motif, which also comes from Lasem, is Batik Tigo Nagri. Batik Tigo Nagri is a symbol of the three regions that make this batik element. Pekalongan is represented by the color blue, Solo is symbolized by the color brown, and Lasem is symbolized by the color red. Each color can only be found in its respective area at that time.