Tanahan: The Intricate Beauty of Flower Buds as the Foundation of Batik

Tanahan: The Intricate Beauty of Flower Buds as the Foundation of Batik

Tanahan is the ornamental pattern that forms the foundation of the Klowongan (outline) decoration; which is usually the main attraction of a piece of batik cloth.

Inspired by the small details of nature, batik Tanahan is a motif that requires expert-level hand-drawn skill to capture intricate flower buds and small plants like ferns or manggar (the flower pistil of a coconut palm tree).

To make the fine patterns of this wax dyed background, artisans use a traditional pen-like tool called the canting in its smallest size.

Tanahan is the isen-isen (ornamental or filler pattern) that forms the foundation of the klowongan (outline) decoration; which is usually the main attraction of a piece of batik cloth.

Initially, the function of the Tanahan ornamental patterns was to cover the base of the batik cloth with wax before it was coloured. Without Tanahan, the background colours of the batik cloth could look uneven.

Tanahan is usually treated as a second-class ornamental variety, which means it was worn by commoners for daily use. These patterns are usually 'hidden' behind the splendor of the klowongan with dominates a piece of batik cloth. 

The Batik Library x KELIR are proud to present the Tanahan collection. Dyed using 100% natural, chemical-free indigo, each piece is a unique hand-made piece featuring the intricate pattern of batik Tanahan. The darker the blue shade is the more number of dips required in the process - with deeper shades of indigo blue requiring up to 22 times of dip dyeing. We invite you to check out the collection here. 

naturally dyed indigo hand drawn artisanal batik from indonesia

About the Artisan


At 10 years old, Nur Hasanah Degayu or Ibu Nur, became fascinated by the art of batik making in her village in Pekalongan, Central Java, Indonesia. Now, at 48 years old, she has poured her soul and years of dedication, attention, and love into her batik work - including the Tanahan collection.


As a full-time artisan, batik making has been a way for Ibu Nur to support her family.


Practicing with stencils or a pre-drawn pattern, Ibu Nur has spent countless hours mastering the refined skill of hand-drawing the batik Tanahan motif. Today, as she slowly learned the technique and got better at it, today she enjoys making batik with Tanahan pattern.




The Batik Library x KELIR's Tanahan collection features the work of Zahir Widadi. A renowned batik artist and anthropologist, Zahir stumbled upon rows of⁠ Indigofera plants wildly growing in and around the bushes along the west side of⁠ the North Coast of Java many years ago.⁠ This was how his lifetime affair with Indigo and natural-dyed batik started.⁠


A recipient of the World Craft Council Award of Excellence for Handicrafts in 2018, Zahir Widadi was granted the award for his indigo-dyed batik with his signature Tanahan pattern.⁣ Zahir Widadi is KELIR’s in-house "Batikologist," whose batik pieces are hand-dyed himself, exclusively using chemical-free indigo mixed with other natural ingredients. He works together with the batik artisans to draw the Tanahan pattern using malam, a natural wax made from the sap of pine trees.


Much like The Batik Library believes in preserving batik through storytelling, in an interview with Indonesia Design, Zahir says, “By sharing, we have protected this natural dyeing technique.”