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Bringing Indigo to Life in Pekalongan

wherejacwanders.com – I love indigo. I have for as long as I’m can remember. The distinctive blue and white takes me back to my school days in Tokyo and the colours of my favourite fabrics and ceramics. I also love batik so when I heard about Pak Zahir and his love of these two I couldn’t wait for the chance to spend time with him and learn more from him.

Pak Zahir really developed his love of batik during his time as museum manager at the Batik Museum in Pekalongan. Fascinated by the history of this art form, he was responsible for Indonesian batik getting its UNESCO rating.

We spent a wonderful day with Pak Zahir and his wife learning about how the indigo leaves are made into a paste then fermented into the dye. We used stamps from Pak Zahir‘s collection and dyed all our pieces 3-4 times to get the deep indigo we were after. When the fabric came out of the dye it was a shade of green and I was fascinated watching it as it dried and gradually changing into the deep blue colour. I love the unpredictability of natural dyes that Mother Nature brings.

We had nasi goreng and local cakes for lunch and enjoyed some hand batiking with the traditional canting. Pak Zahir’s wife showed us some other traditional plants and seeds for other colours too. There was a strange furry fruit which stained my fingers a bright orange. I couldn’t help but wonder whether these traditional arts and skills will continue to be passed down to new generations, brought up on a diet of flash colour and instant gratification.

While waiting for our batik to dry, Pak Zahir showed us some of his creations and most of us couldn’t resist bringing a piece or two home.

We took our batik home to boil the wax off and were all delighted with our final results. A wonderful day with a true Indonesian treasure. My scarf ended up in Melbourne as my Dad loves the blue of indigo as much as I do, so I’m missing my own piece of my indigo.  Sounds like a perfect excuse to go back and do it again!

Definitely a must do for those interested in Indonesian traditional dyeing, batik and indigo.

Pak Zahir Widadi, Batik Artist 
Mobile: +62 (0) 852 2683 0199
Email: zahirwidadi@hotmail.com
Noyontaan Gang 20 RT 02/ RW 06
Kel. Noyontaan
Kec. Pekalongan Timur Kota Pekalongan
Jawa Tengah


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