Colour and patterns

Colour is the most immediately visible stylistic element. The two-colour or polychrome process depends on the number of dye baths which follow the preparation of reserves.  Formerly exclusively natural, dyes today are often synthetic.  The choice of colour is associated with symbolism of the colours and this aspect is equally referred to here.


Some original patterns come from reserve-dyeing processes and are revealed by playing with the colours.

  • indigo


  • parrot green

    parrot green

  • red


  • colour symbolism

    colour symbolism

  • ochre and brown

    ochre and brown

  • multicoloured


  • paint highlights

    paint highlights

  • dotted spiral

    dotted spiral

  • circular pattern

    circular pattern

  • figurative dotted lines

    figurative dotted lines

  • irregular line design

    irregular line design

  • sewing on pleats

    sewing on pleats

  • geometric representation, sowing

    geometric representation, sowing

  • figurative


colour symbolism

colour symbolism

Chest headband, kembangan Indonesia, Java, beginning of 20th century Cotton Donation Society of Arts and Sciences, Batavia Museum 71.1934.71.11

Such fabrics, whose name derives from kembang « fleur », have a very ancient origin and are characterized by the central extended lozenge-shape. Each model of ritual usage has a specific name and fulfils a specific function. They use women’s ceremonial clothes during life cycle rituals, circumcision, marriage, pregnancy and are associated with offerings. These ritual fabrics are still present in current Javanese life. The contrasting colours reflect Javanese philosophy. A reserve, by sewing and gathering, is made along the edges and to the centre of the strip of cloth where it marks an extended lozenge-shape. The rest of the fabric is joined or decorated in the batik style or even by the application of gold-leaf (also see the catalogue with the objects 70.2007.26.5 and 71.1955.68.9). 143x48 cm