Nestled in the mountains of the south coast of Central Java, at the foot of the Imogiri Hillswhere Sultans and royal member of the ancient Mataram Kingdom as well as the Yogyakarta and Surakarta Sultanates are buried, is a small Batik Village that until today continues to play an important role in the preservation of Java’s most glorious masterpiece: the art of Batik.
The village is called Giriloyo, situated within the Imogiri Sub District, Bantul Regency,in the province of Yogyakarta. Here, the delicate hands of housewives and young girls carefully paint the intricate distinct patterns of Yogyakarta’s “batik keratin” or royal batik. The process can take weeks or even a month; true dedication for perfection. For the ladies here, no matter how great a career they may have, they still need to master the art of batik.
History has it that nearing the end of the great Mataram Kingdom in Java, the disputing royal family and the Dutch colonial authority at the time agreed to sign what is called the Giyanti Treaty, which in 1755 split theMataram kingdom into the Surakarta Sultanate and the Yogyakarta Sultanate. After signing the treaty, Sultan Hamengkubuwono of Yogyakarta ordered that some batik artworks which werein the Surakarta Palace be brought to Yogyakarta. Since then communities of batik artisans flourished to cater to the needs of the royal household in Yogyakarta. The tradition of producing batik fabrics using natural dyesare still faithfully adhered to in the Galur area, in Kulonprogo; while the art of hand painted batik with distinct Yogyakarta royal motifs continue to be well preserved at the Giriloyo Village.
This is a place where you can find authentic hand painted batik. Amidst the increasing use of the more practical stamped batik or contemporary batik, the artisans of Giriloyo hold firm to their tradition and techniques as passed down the generations. This is what makes Giriloyo so special and is considered an important cultural asset for the province.
The Batik center of Giriloyo is divided into three areas, which are: Giriloyo, Cengkehan, and Karangkulon. The involvement of almost every housewife in the village in preserving the art of batik makes Giriloyobeing regarded as the largest hand painting batik center in the province of Yogyakarta. These housewives who continue to take care of their families (while some also work in offices) manage to find time to continue creating and preserving batik artworks. After household chores are done, these dedicated women will usually go straight to paint fabrics with batik motifs in their own homes or together with others at batik centers.
The local government also cares about the preservation of glorious masterpieces and conduct scheduled training classes for artisans. Workshops include the introduction of diverse motifs as well as dyeing techniques. Giriloyo’s Batik also applies the use of natural dye techniques by using the skin of jolawefruits and the bark of the mahogany wood.
While you are in Bantul, you might as well take a bite of the distinct culinary delights of the area. Bantul is famous for the “MangutLele” or the Catfish Curry which offers a truly different sensation. MangutLele is a savory dish combined with a bit of a spicy taste which is the result of a perfect mixture of coconut milk and chili peppers. There are also other treats you can try here such as pecelbungaturi, wedanguwuh, lemperketan, lempengketela, abonjambu mete, peyekkacang, and more.
You can visit Giriloyo village anytime of the week. However, batik centers usually close during religious holidays or when members of the village hold a celebration (wedding, circumcision, etc) since the whole village is usually involved in the ceremony.
Here, not only will you find batik with various traditional royal motifs such as the sidomukti, sidoluhur, nitik, parang, and more, you can also observe how these masterpieces are created. Moreover, if you wish to experience the delicate sensation of batik painting, besttry your hand in it yourself. By paying IDR25,000, you can paint your batik on a handkerchief guided by the experts there and take home a truly special souvenir.