A 700-years old blue-and-white batik from Indonesia



early batik, indonesian art, majapahit art, indonesian textiles


This article describes a blue-and-white batik found on Sulawesi that dates from the 13th or 14th century. The textile is a 3-meter-long banner in a fragmentary state, with a design of two guardian animals flanking a temple-like structure and large concave-diamond motifs. A reconstruction of the original design reveals a close relationship to double-ikat gringsing textiles from Bali and weft ikat textiles from Gresik in East Java and from Lampung in South Sumatra. Wax residues present on the cloth indicate that a wax resist technique, similar to contemporary batik, has been used. This article argues that the cloth was probably woven in India, but that the pattern was created in Java. It is the earliest material evidence (to date) for sophisticated batik production in Southeast Asia. This cloth offers a glimpse into the early history of batik in Java and its connection with double-ikat weaving traditions.