Javanese Wedding Attire By Jessica Weltersen Weddings may differ from culture to culture, but regardless of religion, time and place, the essence of wedding ceremonies remains the same. Weddings serve as a way for partners to vow eternal commitment to each other in the eyes of the law and their respective church. In the same way that wedding customs and practices vary, traditional wedding attire also differs according to specific cultures. Traditional wedding attire in the Javanese culture includes the use of the kebaya and batik clothing. An Introduction to Batik The word “batik” is an Indonesian term that describes a generic wax-resist dyeing technique used to create intricate and detailed patterns on different fabrics. Batik is more than just a textile technique; it is considered an art from that is approximately over a millennium old. The art of creating batik is said to have originated either in ancient Sumeria or ancient Egypt. Batik spread to other countries in West Africa and in Asia. Although batik patterns are also created in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Iran and Thailand, the most popular designs and styles originated in Indonesia. Batik textiles come in different colors, designs and styles. These designs can range from simple to intricate, dual colored to multi-colored. For a traditional Javanese wedding, batik sarongs paired with the kebaya are the usual costume. Creating Batik To create batik, melted wax, usually made of a mixture of paraffin wax and bee’s wax, is first applied on a cloth before it is dyed. The sticky nature of the bee’s wax allows it to stick firmly to the fabric, while the paraffin wax is used to allow a little cracking, which is a standard in batik making. The combination of these two types of wax prevents the dye from penetrating the fabric and ruining the desired design. For intricate and multi-colored batik textiles, a series of dyeing, drying and waxing the fabric is required. To create ornate designs, thin wax lines are first made with a tjanting tool or a canting needle. The canting needle is a type of wooden handled tool that has a metal cup that holds the wax, and an incredibly small spout that allows small doses of the liquid wax to seep out. Melted wax can also be painted on, stamped on or poured directly onto the fabric to create the desired design. After the dyeing process, the textile is left to dry. It is later dipped into a solvent solution to break up and completely dissolve the wax. Another technique that can be used is to iron the fabric between two newspapers or paper towels to allow the wax to be absorbed by the paper. Today, intricate designs and high quality patterns are made possible by the revolutionary copper cap or block that was developed in the 20th century by the Javanese. Using the copper block is considered handier, since it is much easier and faster than hand-painting designs onto the fabric. Most of the batik fabrics that you will find today are adorned with bright colors. You will also see numerous mystic-influenced designs, and illustrations of people and animals dyed onto various fabrics. If you’re looking for a modern pattern for your wedding batik clothing, go for colorful and vibrant designs. For more traditional wedding attire, find batik fabrics with designs made using natural colors. Historical and Cultural Significance of Batik Textile As we already mentioned before, the creation of batik is not just for practical purposes; it is and always has been considered a sophisticated art form. The finest batik cloths can be found in Java, Indonesia, where batik is considered part of the people’s ancient tradition. Aside from self-expression and art, wearing batik to your wedding ceremony is a great way to express your admiration for the artistic Javanese culture. Here’s a video showing how batik is made.