"Kawung reflects faithfulness and the fear of God in achieving the perfect form of religious life and the symbol of faith in God in prehistoric society in Indonesia was shown in the shape of triangular lines. Which is during the pre-Islamic period, it was made into 'tumpal' motif by the batik artisans in Java."
As Mataraman Batik has a long story to tell, we will divide into some posts. In this first post, we will know about the story behind the mataraman batik and kawung pattern.
The Javanese way of thinking in the history was transformed from Indian religions based on Veda philosophy, actualizing the existence of the nature and the universe and the power of gods and goddess. After that, Islam came and brought along the reform and freedom of expression while adapting and taking advantage of the existing cultures.
Hinduism and Buddhism represent the universe as an absolute space. It is considered the true space (cosmos) that is integrated and holistic. Mahayana followers explain that every natural occurrence is a destiny and every humane incident must be in order.
There is a place which is not for human, but instead for the gods who lead us to the door of the paradise of eternal joy. To reach the place, we need introduction tools, the five knowledge of a material consists of physique, emotion, mind, composition and awareness. The composition of these five materials are absorbed through body and mind's senses, creating a ritual movement. As the visualization to break the characteristics is abstract and invisible, the reality does not always use abstract materials.
The things that can be used as abstract medium are flower, heirloom, water, bell, beads, and batik fabric as an introduction tool, which consists of spiritual symbol as a medium to the cosmic world.
(Kawung Pattern - Image source : batikdan.blogspot.com)
Batik in kawung (sugar palm tree in Javanese) pattern, which consists of the slice of sugar palm has a symbolical meaning that translates the concept of mandala towards the cosmos. Inside it was filled with the ellipse-shaped of sugar palm pattern like Vajra (diamond), which according to Buddha Vajrayana myth is the symbol of strength and enlightenment or light. Kawung fruit consists of four crossing pictures depicting the four wind directions that have zodiac meaning.
Kawung is originated from Javanese word, awang-uwung, meaning a hollow that turns into a shape. It is an interpretation for the cosmos, similar to sunya and sunyata, empty and full, or sakala-niskala.
In the classical Javanese period, kawung batik was used for ritual purposes. Kawung reflects faithfulness and the fear of God in achieving the perfect form of religious life.
In the period of Islamic Kingdom of Mataram in Yogyakarta and Surakarta, as kawung batik was worn as bebed or tapih, the artisans gave them additional names, such as Kawung Purbonegoro, Kawung Picis, because the shapes of the kawung were like coins and other kawung were made by the artisans of Yogya. The symbol of faith in God in prehistoric society in Indonesia was shown in the shape of triangular lines. Which is during the pre-Islamic period, it was made into 'tumpal' motif by the batik artisans in Java.
Following the development stages of religions in Indonesia, tumpal motif marked the beginning of society's belief in God, hence its place on the hem of the fabric. While on the other parts of the fabric did not contain hedge pattern, showing the vast life of human being. On batik, such vastness was depicted in seamless fabric. (Source : Mozaik Batik Indonesia).
(Batik Tumpal - Image source : http://smp-prosit.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/batik-tumpal.jpg)