A Stroll Through Kampung Canting, Pekalongan

Thetraveljunkie.org – Kampung Canting is a village in Pekalongan. While the Indonesian word ‘kampung’ translates as village in English, its meaning in Indonesian is sometimes more like what we’d call a suburb of a town or city. For example, people refer to villages in Jakarta however we’d probably use the word ‘suburb’ to describe these areas.

Pekalongan, also known as  The Batik City, is located on the north coast of Central Java. It is well known for its distinct colourful Batiks that are infused with Chinese influence, and was officially included by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) into world’s Creative Cities Network in the “Crafts and Folk Arts” category. Pekalongan is the first Indonesian city to have made it to this prestigious network. In 2009, Indonesian Batik, with its intricate process, and diverse designs created throughout this archipelago containing deep philosphical values, was designated by UNESCO an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” .

‘Canting’ are the tools used to apply liquid hot wax in the batik making process. Often villages in Indonesia have speciality home industries. This area of Pekalongan has traditional canting making workshops.

We learnt that the word canting can be used for both batik tulis (hand drawn batik) and for the stamps for batik cap. This workshop in Canting Village makes the stamps from copper according to designs given to them.

The next workshop we visited makes canting batik tulis – the tool used for applying wax in batik. The canting are made from copper with a bamboo handle. The man in the picture has been making them for over twenty years with his father who has been making canting for almost fifty years. Canting tulis are used for hand drawing the batik motifs.

A traditional canting is made from a copper wax container, a nyamplung, with a bamboo or wooden handle, a gagang and a nozzle called a cucuk. The size of the cucuk varies according to the size of the lines or dots to be applied to the cloth. On this weekend in Pekalongan I saw so many new ones all named by their spouts such as a Canting Byok which has seven cucuk and forms a circle with a dot in the centre. A canting with three cucuk is called a canting telon. The canting also have sizes depending on the size of the cucuk diameter. Fascinating to learn more about batik.

The workshop belongs Pak Chuzazi, a 67 year old from Tembaga, who has been making canting for 46 years. He has 10 children however 5 of them are still alive. He told us about the decline in demand for canting tulis. His is the only workshop making these types of canting in this kampung and has a wealth of knowledge about them.

The colourful streets are also home to friendly local families who greeted us with big smiles and the often heard cry of ‘Hello Mister’. Kampung Canting is a great spot for a stroll and to learn some more about one of Indonesia’s traditional arts.

If anyone knows what this is below, please let me know. I’m guessing it’s some kind of bird feeder…

Kampung Canting is located in Kelurahan Landungsari, in East Pekalongan.

The article ‘A stroll through Kampung Canting, Pekalongan‘ was published in partnership with Where Jac Wanders.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Pekalongan, Central Java.


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