Javanese Batik Stamp-Maker of Jogjakarta, Indonesia


The Javanese in Indonesia make the world's most intricate wax-masked batik.  Most batik comes from the Javanese artists around Jogjakarta. Some is still done the traditional way—hand-drawn with wax pens by Javanese women batik artists. 

But this batik tulis (BA-teek TOO-lees) is too expensive for many Indonesians, costing more than the slightly newer way to create handmade batik.  

Long ago Javanese artisans began using intricate, handmade copper stamps (or blocks) dipped in wax & then printed on cotton to reproduce patterns more quickly.  This is called batik cap (BA-teek CHAP)--stamped batik.

Anyone who sees a batik stamp will be impressed by what a work of art it is.  When I lived in Jogja--Indonesia's arts center--I rarely found anyone willing to sell a quality batik stamp.  Stamps are durable & last for generations, so why give up a perfectly useful artist's tool?  When I tried to find the artists making these masterpieces, my efforts always came up dry.  But earlier this year my wife & I located an Indonesian national artist treasure.  We’ll call him Mr. Lan.  He lives off the beaten trail.

We found him sitting on his front porch busy engaging his art—beginning a new handmade copper batik stamp. 

His wife seems to understand what a rare artistic treasure she's married to.  She sits in the doorway smiling as Mr. Lan rapidly works using calipers to score precise marks on copper that will form the batik stamp.


The artist then uses metal clippers to make small cuts in the copper strips.

On these cuts he then bends the strips to form design segments.  His needle-nosed pliers speed through the pattern—often checked against a printed batik design.

Once each stamp detail is in place, Mr. Lan casts the stamp in resin to stabilize all the copper points.  Then the artist uses a common metal file to create a flat plane across every copper point of the batik stamp before boiling off the resin.  


Mr. Lan displays a custom designed batik stamp that he just completed & tested—the official seal of an Indonesian social department.  

Notice the beautiful faithfulness of the intricate design from batik stamp, to wax mask, to dyed batik cloth reproduced en masse. 

A Javanese former batik textile trader stands nearby.  He says he once needed a custom handmade batik stamp & looked all over Jogja, but he could never find anyone still making batik stamps.  He’s amazed that we found this rare batik stamp artist.

So, we ask Mr. Lan, how many artists are still handmaking batik stamps.  He laughs & replies that apart from himself, he only knows of one other batik stamp-maker the whole Jogja region!  A couple times some young person has come & said that they want to learn the trade, but none have been willing to stick around long enough to gain proficiency.

Mr. Lan is a Javanese Indonesian—perhaps global—artist treasure. 


Come with us next September on our Indonesia photo workshop tour where we look forward to taking you to the village where Mr. Lan--this Javanese master preserves the art . . . 

making the world’s most intricate handmade copper batik stamps.

See photo tour info on Matt Brandon’s site at:

And, to have a chance to photo Mr. Lan, the Javanese batik stamp-maker, be sure to sign up for the Borobudur-Jogja Indonesia extension photo tour!  See you in Indonesia on the photo tour!