Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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An Exploration of Traditional Contemporary of Indonesian Culture through Batik

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posted on 2021-12-08, 09:01 authored by Nurlitasari, Karina

Indonesia is a developing country in which the majority of the population that is 225 million people identified as Muslim. As a part of that phenomenon and in conjunction with Indonesia’s recent cultural and economic development, Muslim women in Indonesia are becoming increasingly aware of external cultural trends and as a result of this are seeking opportunities to express themselves of their culture and beliefs as a part of their own personal fashion statements. For many Muslim women the Muslim veil, often referred to as Hijab, is perhaps the most salient of their clothing items worn to show obligation to their religious law. Although the hijab has been called into question by some within the Muslim community, and others outside of it, this research does not address that discourse. This research presents the hijab as a piece of clothing that creates a ‘sense of cultural space’. As an Indonesian woman wearing the hijab, through this research I aim to consider how wearing the hijab can both respectfully and creatively express both faith and culture within a contemporary context. In parallel, this research asks how the traditional Indonesian technique of batik can be used to signify, identify and celebrate Indonesian Muslim women in the 21st century.   Batik was officially recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in October 2009 as an Intangible Heritage of Indonesia. Although examples of the authentic batik technique have been overrun by mass-produced printed versions, undeniably batik still does not only hold an important place in Indonesia’s history but also in Indonesia’s global identity. The inseparable connection between the symbolism and the significance of the meanings and narratives expressed within batik has existed for centuries. As a part of a larger and historically established visual language, this research seeks to design contemporary symbols that represent the values, characteristics and beliefs of Indonesian Muslim women in the 21st century. The new symbols are designed in response to a present-day voice and seek to connect religious beliefs, cultural heritage as well as the young Indonesian Muslim woman’s appreciation of these as a part of her everyday appearance and lifestyle. The voice of young Indonesian woman of Muslim faith is gained in interviews and workshops where they identify, interpret, and depict characteristics and values that express who they consider themselves to be and what values they wish to express as a fundamental to their lifestyle. The symbols are then adapted by the hijab using both traditional pattern making techniques and digital software which will then printed onto the fabric using traditional batik methods. Through the design of contemporary symbols and patterns that represent the contemporary Indonesian Muslim woman of the 21st century and the printing of these onto the hijab using the traditional technique of batik, this research aims to establish a more contemporary appreciation of the hijab and the values held fundamental to its user.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Design for Social Innovation

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design


O'Sullivan, Nan