Batik textiles—ornate canvases for painterly art—are one of Indonesia’s most ancient traditions.  Yogyakarta is a cultural hotspot at the foot of Central Java’s Merapi volcano, and produces some of South Asia’s finest batiks.  Yogyakarta is home to countless artisan workshops and galleries, where we’ve discovered some of the loveliest batiks. Central Java is famous for its hand-painted pieces (batik tulis), as opposed to the quicker block stamp method (batik cap)—both are uniquely beautiful, and make striking home décor or clothing.





In Yogyakarta, the workshop Batik Winotosastro is an easy rickshaw ride away from downtown, while the Bima Sakti Batik Collective is an authentic Indonesian village specializing in the craft.  A visit to a batik workshop presents a first-hand view of the gorgeous production: artisans bent over vivid yards of cloth paint intricate, natural motifs using cantings, wooden pens filled with hot wax.  Each student learns the batik craft from a master; both student and master typically sell their jewel-toned pieces in a gallery, at prices varying with the level of detail and expertise. The jewel-toned textiles seem to glow when illuminated, like stained glass—our favorite was an oblong, deep violet-toned wall hanging with plumed birds and a waterfall.







A visit to Yogyakarta’s batik workshops is best paired with a few nights at the luxurious Hotel Melia Purosani and a visit to the 8th century Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Borobudur. 





To learn the basics of this craft stateside: New York’s Make Workshop (195 Chrystie St. between Rivington and Stanton Sts., Studio 402) offers batik-making basics in 2.5-hour doses.  The sign-up fees include supplies, and you’ll walk away with incredible handmade textiles.