Nitik means to create a dot. It is a type of batik motif which is made up of many tiny square dots arranged in a repeated geometric pattern.
I bought a Nitik canting from my friend Tatang while in Yogyakarta, a tool quite different from the regular cantings, having a spout with four corners splayed out-wards. When used to make a dot, the spout creates a miniature square. In practise this is far more difficult than it looks !
I took many photos of Nitik batik at various stages when I visited Kembang Songo village, Yogyakarta, which is renowned for its production. I also saw many fine examples on display in the Danar Hadi Museum, Surakarta and The Yogyakarta Batik museum so I thought it would be good to discover more about Nitik’s history.
Nitik Motifs are among the oldest batik patterns in Indonesia and were inspired by traditional woven cloths from India. The double ikat cloths known as Patola and woven in silk, were brought to the North coast of Java by traders from Gujarat, India in the early 19th Century.
Patola were renowned for their colourful diversity and geometrical style, both the warp and weft threads were tie-dyed then hand woven, making intricate patterns possible on this fine woven silk fabric. The procedure was not only time-consuming, but also very costly so Patola was reserved for royalty, aristocrats and the extremely rich.
The Nitik motif was developed in coastal cities in the north of Java where the weavings were first seen. From Cirebon and Pekalongan to Surabaya, batik artisans began imitating the patterns formed by Patola weaving techniques, using popular colours from the region; red, blue, green and yellow. Nitik was less expensive and faster to make than the woven cloth and the new designs supplied a huge demand for ritual and ceremonial batik.
The Nitik designs soon arrived in the royal courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta where they were refined and adapted for the Kraton ( Sultan’s Palace). Here batik motifs followed certain rules and were dyed browns, indigo and cream white, reflecting the colours of court batik, these dyes were also used in Nitik made in the Central region.
The information above was not easy to find and I found very little about Nitik in books and not much detail on line. I pieced it together from Indonesian blogs, Google and the photos I took at Danar Hadi Museum. I would appreciate any additional facts or personal knowledge of the technique so please feel free to comment.