Decorative Patterns of Jambi Batik

In the period of the Jambi Malay Kingdom, the Port of Jambi functioned as a transit port for sailors and merchants, as well as the trading center for goods from all over the archipelago with those from India, China, Persia, Arabia, and other countries. The meetings between traders did not only bring economical impacts for Jambi, but also encouraged the processes of cultural assimilation and acculturation. Local cultures interacted with the cultures of India, China, Persia, Arabia, Europe, and cultures from other kingdoms in the Archipelago, thus forming the customs of Jambi society as it is known today, including the field of handmade cloths.

As is also batik from other regions in Indonesia, Jambi batik has two beauties, namely the visual beauty which can be seen from the combination of the decorative patterns, compositions and colors, as well as spiritual beauty contained in the philosophy of the cloth. The decorative patterns of Jambi which are rich in elements of the local cultures, unite harmoniously with touches of other cultures which have lasted for centuries. In addition to decorative patterns which had received outside influence, local artisans also develop decorative patterns according to the environments where they live. In general, the decorative patterns are stylized traditional ornaments, flora-fauna, and tales or myths of the Melayu Jambi Kingdom.

According to Jambi cultural observer, Ja’far Rassuh, the decorative patterns of Jambi batik as a whole is a representative of the nature and characters of Jambi community, which is simple, egalitarian, and open to things from the outside, although prudent in responding to changes.

The name of a Jambi decorative pattern is usually taken from the most dominant decorative pattern on the batik piece or the repetition of a large of a large pattern which has been the main focus, while the addition of small size lines or dots that fill the empty spaces on the main decorative pattern is called the supporting decorative pattern. Along with the increasing market demands, many fabric innovations are created with various decorative patterns, with no single dominant decorative pattern, the composition tends to highlight the aspect of beauty. Such decorative pattern is usually named after the creator. Several batik decorative patterns unique to Jambi that can be inventoried are, among others:

Pucuk Rebung Decorative Pattern

In the Malay society, pucuk rebung has symbolic as well as esthetic meanings, which often synonymous with the form of “gunungan” in Javanese philosophy. Gunungan is a symbol of the world and its contents. Other meanings of this symbol are as a symbol of long life, power, strength, and perseverance, in the face of the onslaughts of many trials in life. Pucuk rebung also symbolizes prayers and good hope for the future; it is expected that the wearer always have good luck in life.

In the custom of Jambi society, when wearing this batik, pucuk rebung as the head of the cloth, or tumpal, is positioned at the front.

Kapal Sanggat Decorative Pattern

A ship that cannot proceed to sail because it is snagged to something (an object), may means “it does not reach its destination;” this is a definition and a warning to the society that, in living life, a person should have a destination or goals. The traditional adage of “ to sail to the island, to walk up to the goal,” is an advice to a person or a social group of a community, that in doing something, it should be done until it is finished, do not do half way, or quit in the middle.

For a leader, it is expected that, in performing or running his daily life, he should be wary of temptations, trials, and tests, challenges, which will come and go. Like a sailing ship, there are waves, storms, and hurricanes at sea, if the ship captain is not careful and cautious, the ship will run aground in the midst of the sea.

Melati Bengkal Decorative Pattern

Jasmine is one of the flowers that are always used in the processions of traditional ceremony of Jambi society. In addition, jasmine also has many health benefits, among others, as medication to eye sore, headaches, fever, and shortness of breath. Its fragrant scent has always been used in perfumes or to enhance the fragrance of beverages. Jasmine symbolizes elegance, manners, and chastity.

Merak Ngeram Decorative Pattern

This decorative pattern is denoted with an attractive bird, its feathers are beautiful and different from the other birds. The physical beauty of a person is expected to be reflected in the attitudes and behavior (inner beauty), so that in judging a person, should not be based on the appearance alone, but also on his behavior and spoken words.

Merak ngeram decorative pattern also implies responsibility, compassion and patience of a mother to the preservation of future generation.

The responsibility and sacrifice of a mother is so great, that a mother in general has a close inner relationship, as well as has a major influence on the on her child’s personal developments. Therefore, let us put mothers at the most respectable position.

The elegant and beautiful peacock also depicts the upper world. In Chinese philosophy, a God is represented with a Dragon (yang), while a Goddess is represented by a Hong bird (yin), which embodies the gentle, protective, and affectionate behaviors.

Tampuk Manggis Decorative Pattern

The number of fruit segments corresponds exactly with the number of stigma lobes on the exterior apex, and this is a symbol of the nature and characters of the people of Jambi, who are open and honest, what is said, has the same intent and purpose with what is in their hearts. The red blackish skin is bitter, but the flesh is white and sweet and delicious, and containing a message that “to see a person not only on his appearance, but also to get to know his character and personality”.

The message conveyed is that the people of Jambi should maintain their open and honest characters, and strengthen their friendship ties. The symbolic meaning of this pattern may be concluded as “white heart” or “the sincerity of the people of Jambi,” as is the customary rhyme “the whiteness of cotton might be seen, the whiteness of heart is situationed”.

Kaco piring Decorative Pattern

The kaco piring decorative pattern is taken from the form of glass plates which were circulating in Jambi during the Dutch colonial era. The flower on the base of the plate resembles the kaco piring flower (gardenias). From the visual side, the form of kaco piring flower has a meaning of strong determination with an open and clean heart in every work and intention.

From the perspective of kaco piring, it means that we reflect on the plate, which implies that a housewife should be able to manage well the finances of the husband’s hard-earned income. The budgeting should not be unbalanced, but she should still pay attention to the husband’s appetite.

Pauh Decorative Pattern

This decorative pattern reflects fertility, health, wealth, and abundant fortunes.

Canna Decorative Pattern

Canna (Canna coccinea, Mill.) flower, or also known as the chaplet flower, has various colors, ranging from white, yellow, orange, red, purple, or combinations of these colors. Because of the beauty of its flowers, the plant is often used as a town garden’s ornament and decorates the house yards. The content of natural pigments in Canna flowers serves as anthocyanins and antioxidants, which are beneficial to health. In addition, the flower pigments can also be used as natural colorings. The beautiful flowers as well as its variety of health benefits, implies that humans should have inner and outer beauty; beside a body that is pleasing to the eye, it will be perfect if a person also has a noble character. Thus, his speech and behavior may be an example and bring goodness to the surrounding community.

Durian Pecah Decorative Pattern

Durian fruit is a type of fruit that has uniqueness both on its spiny skin appearance, delicacy of flavor, and its fragrant aroma. The region of Jambi is one of the producers of durian fruits, whose numbers are abundant when the season is in. The uniqueness, delicacy, and economic values of durian fruit, have inspired the creation of Durian Pecah decorative pattern.

This decorative pattern contains an advice that “As beautiful as it looks, and as delicious as it tastes, when it is broken or damaged, it is not valuable.” Hence, we should always remember and       be wary, as well as capable, of maintaining everything that is “good in order for them not to be broken”.

Chinese Boat Decorative Pattern

Since thousands of years ago, Chinese ships were famous for their toughness in taking waves and storms to trade all over the world, or to expand the powers of the ruling Chinese emperor. This decorative pattern symbolizes the journey of human in this world, as a cruise across the ocean, to safely reach the destination. Our body is like the ship that has to be maintained in good health physically and mentally. A well maintained physical endurance makes a person can work well and agile, and a healthy mental makes a person can think clearly and be able to make a decision properly and correctly, even at a crucial moment.

Bungo Antelas Decorative Pattern

Antelas may be interpreted as satin, or shiny silk. The shine on the silk is due to the structure that resembles a triangular prism in the fiber, so as to allow the fabric to refract lights to various angles. This decorative pattern symbolizes beauty and charisma to the wearer, as well as hope, happiness, and longevity. Antelas flowers also reflect intention and willingness to change for the better, such as the metamorphosis process on silkworms.

Kuwau Berhias Decorative Pattern

This decorative pattern implies an self introduction and introspection, since by knowing ourselves then we will be able to recognize our advantages and disadvantages, and with the hope of covering or perfecting our weaknesses.  Implicitly, it also implies a warning that it is necessary for a woman to preen, but never be too occupied in preening that other duties are neglected.

Cucumber Seeds (Biji Timun) Decorative Pattern

In the customs of Jambi society, the cucumber seeds symbolize regeneration, which is expected to continue and to improve the existing life. Cucumber seeds are also a symbol of prosperity and fertility. In many batik cloths, this decorative pattern functions as a filling to the background, or isen-isen, but in Jambi, this decorative pattern is featured as the main pattern.

Classic Patola Decorative Pattern

This decorative pattern is influenced by the weaving motif of Gujarat, India, which was then distilled as a patola decorative pattern. This pattern is a symbol of life, a statement of gratitude to the God Almighty, that however is the condition of our daily lives, we should never forget to be grateful, so that the joys that God has blessed us will increase.

Bungo Durian Decorative Pattern

This decorative pattern symbolizes fertility, nobility, virtues, as well as high status and dignity.

Conch (Keong) Decorative Pattern

This snail lives in shallow waters with a slow water flow, such as rice fields, swamps, riversides or a lake. It likes a clean and clear waters. The nutrient content of this snail is quite high, among others protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin E, and the meat is low in cholesterol. Despite living in a slob environment, a conch snail likes cleanliness and behind it’s simple appearance, it has many benefits. It symbolizes that goodness, wherever it is, is still goodness, and truth, although delivered by a simple slave, is still a truth. This decorative pattern also symbolizes a person’s ability to survive and adapt himself to the environmental changes.

Batanghari Decorative Pattern

The Batanghari River is the longest river in the island of Sumatera; a river which in the past and until present, has been the artery and the main transportation route for goods and services in Jambi. This decorative pattern depicts the relationship between one region to another, from upstream to downstream, although it is a meandering road. The community of a hamlet, a village, and kampong, must necessarily maintain their friendship; the upstream people need the downstream people, and vice versa, and the river provides great benefits for the people.

Batanghari’s water is calm

Although calm, it rushes to the edge

Jambi’s son may as well be remembered,

When remembered, the heart is pleased

From the above descriptions, it may be depicted that the decorative pattern of Batanghari may be interpreted as the source of life, the purpose of life based on the balance of differences and contradictions, and strive towards unity and harmony of life.

Two Swans (Angso Duo) Decorative Pattern

This decorative pattern is inspired by the legend of the chosen land (tanah pilih), when Orang Kayo Hitam had to choose a place to establish his kingdom, with the instinct of the pair of swans down the Batanghari river. The short narration on Orang Kayu Hitam is as follows: Tuanku Ahmad Salim from Gujarat, also known as Paduko Berhalo, had arrived in the Strait of Berhala, Jambi, and converted the Malay community there, then he built a new government based on Islam, and was given the title of Datuk Paduko Berhalo, and married a princess from Minangkabau, named Princess Selaras Pinang Masak.

Their youngest son, Orang Kayo Hitam, intended to expand the region of the kingdom to the inland, and, should there be good luck, to build a new kingdom. He then married the daughter of Temenggung Merah Mato, Princess Mayang Mangurai. The father in law, Temenggung Merah Mato, gave them a couple of swans, a boat named Kajang Lako, and an order to follow the flow of the Batanghari river to find a place to build the new empire. The place to be chosen as the site for the new kingdom is the place where the two swans were willing to go up the cliff and stay at the spot for two consecutive days and nights.

After several days of going downstream along the Batanghari river, the two swans stepped ashore on the downstream side (Jam Village), then it was called Tenadang Village. And in accordance to the mandate from his father in law, Orang Kayo Hitam and his wife, Princess Mayang Mangurai, along with their followers, started to build a new empire, which was called “Tanah Pilih” (the Chosen Land), and served as the administrative center of the kingdom, now known as the city of Jambi today.

Besides based on the legend, the message tries to be conveyed by this decorative pattern is on harmony and mutual interests among human beings in managing life. From the visual side, it describes of the faithfulness of a couple (male and female).

Pestle (Antan) Decorative Pattern

A pestle is the pair to mortar, which are the tools to grind the rice grains to separate them from the husks, and are usually made of wood. In the beliefs of the traditional communities of the archipelago, pestle is a symbol of masculinity or the lingga (phallus), which together with mortar (yoni, the symbol of femininity), become the symbol of a true partnership. This decorative pattern symbolizes the balance of the universe, yin and yang, man and woman, day and night, light and dark, and so on. Each has its own roles and functions, but   but together along, they may create a harmony that is in tune with the law of nature. In other words, everything that humans do, should pay attention to the surrounding environment, do not do any damage that may disturb the balance of nature, and in the end is detrimental to the humans themselves..

138 Ragam Hias Batik Jambi BAB 4B 4 Ragam Hias Batik Jambi 139

One Swan (Angso Satu) Decorative Pattern

Swans is known as a type of bird that is very loyal bird to its pair, a single swan symbolizes endless effort to find the right life partner, with attention to the religion, science and origin of the prospective partner. By getting a good life partner according to the religion and the society, God willing, the domestic life will be harmonious and happy.

Bitter Melon (Pare) Decorative Pattern

The bitter fruit of this plant is usually consumed as a vegetable. Even the fruit (Momordica charantia) is bitter, it has many health benefits. Its functions among others, are to control the cholesterol level, an antidote to dehydration, to balance the insulin level in blood, to discharge toxins, a weight control, to promote a healthier liver, and increase metabolism. Bitter melon plant is easy to cultivate and easily grown anywhere, which reflects the character of the people of Jambi who are able to adapt to any environments, and have high endurance and fighting spirit. While the bitter taste of the bitter melon, yet is healthy to the body, supports the notion that every bitterness or trials of life should be faced with sincerity, patience, and trust, because it is a step to obtain a more noble degree of life.

Papaya Decorative Pattern

Papaya (Carica papaya L) which is a native plant to Southern Mexico and northern part of South America, is now cultivated worldwide for its fruits. Besides tasty, papaya fruit is also beneficial to health, among others, to overcome digestive problems, to prevent flu, to maintain the health of the kidney, to prevent heart attack as well as stroke, and many others. The papaya leaves have also been consumed as a vegetable, and like the fruit, it has many health benefits, such as overcome intestinal worms, malnutritions on infants, dengue fever, as an anti cancer compound, and relieve menstrual pains. Other parts of the plant, such as the flower, the sap, and the roots, are also often use as drugs. From the above description, it may be concluded that from the roots to its fruits, papaya plant has provided many benefits to human life.

As an individual and a part of the society, we, too, should always try to be a human that can benefit others. At times, we should be able to tell the truth, even if it is perceived bitterly, as the bitter papaya leaves and flower, yet they provides benefits. At other times, we should always be polite, open, and able to provide security and comfort to anyone, as the papaya fruit, which is easily found anywhere and is needed by many people.


Kris Decorative Pattern

For the people of the archipelago, besides to function as a weapon for self defense, Kris is also the pride and dignity, and also indicates the social status of a person. In the history of Jambi, it is said that Orang Kayo Hitam had went to Majapahit to take a magical dagger (kris), which later became the heritage of the Sultanate of Jambi. Kris Siginjai become an heirloom for generations by the Sultanate of Jambi, and for 400 years Kris Siginjai is not merely the crown emblem of the Sultanate of Jambi, but also the symbol of unity for the people of Jambi.

Kris symbolizes the chivalrous qualities that should be owned by a leader, that is to provide security, able to unite various interests for the sake of collective progress, and able to provide pride and love towards the country. A leader should also be able to get himself, knows when to be polite, courteous, fair, and knows when to act as a knight.

Shrimp Decorative Pattern

The shape of the curved shrimp symbolizes longevity, good fortune, and happiness. Every human being blessed with longevity should be able to take advantage the opportunity to always do good things towards others as a form of gratitude, and humans are expected to always remember that there is an eternal life than the worldly life.

Canoe House Decorative Pattern

The geographical condition of Jambi is partly traversed by watersheds of Batanghari, and formed numerous creeks, lakes, and natural waters as the breeding sites of various types of freshwater animals. This condition shaped the pattern of life of the people living near the watersheds and their surroundings, to live and earn a living in canoe houses. This decorative pattern symbolizes the ability of humans to adapt to the existing environment in order to survive. The canoe house also reflects toughness and tenacity in facing various ordeals of life.

Fan Decorative Pattern

The Fan is one of the crafts of the people of Jambi which is used in various traditions and cultural activities of the local community. This decorative pattern is a symbol of sobriety and wisdom in dealing with the problems of life. Fans also give a meaning and hope that the family fostered is able to overcome various problems of life, through diligent efforts, patience, and endless prater until they reach the glory of life.

Water Spinach Decorative Pattern

Water spinach grows creeping in shallow waters, and is easily found in all the regions in Indonesia, including in Jambi. The leaves are used as a vegetable due to its contents of many vitamins, minerals, and it is good antioxidants for the body. Its endurance towards the environments reflects the unyielding nature of humans towards the pressures of life. Its muddy cultivating places imply that truth and kindness can be found anywhere, without judgment on who and where they are encountered. While the water spinach’s short life span symbolizes that our temporary lives in this world should be filled with knowledge and charity so that they are meaningful and useful to others.

Gold Jambi Decorative Pattern

The color gold is a symbol of wealth and glory. This decorative pattern symbolizes the prosperity and well being reached by the people of Jambi, as results of the developments performed by the leaders of the country, who are trustworthy, fair, and wise. It is expected that the prosperity and well being of the society will bring glory and a great name to Jambi, in Indonesia as well as abroad.