Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his two sons – Edhie Baskoro and Agus Harimurti – visited the grave of Ani Yudhoyono on Idul Fitri wearing the Sawunggaling batik. (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Sawunggaling, Ani Yudhoyono's Favorite and Last Batik


JUNE 07, 2019

Jakarta. Former first lady Kristiani Herrawati, better known as Ani Yudhoyono, who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer, was famous for her love of Indonesian textiles, especially batik. 

Before her death, Ani had prepared a batik to be worn by the Yudhoyono family on Idul Fitri. The motif was called Sawunggaling, one usually reserved for special occasions. 

Ani's Sawunggaling batik was in the end used to cover her body after her death. Covering a dead person's body with batik is common in Indonesia. 

Her husband, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or SBY, and his two sons, Agus Harimurti and Edhie Baskoro, all wore the same Sawunggaling batik when they visited Ani's grave on Idul Fitri on Wednesday. 

Agus's wife Annisa posted a photo of the family wearing the batik on Instagram, comparing it to another family photo from last year when Ani was still alive.



New Motif

Sawunggaling is a relatively new batik motif that was created by one of Indonesia's batik maestros, Go Tik Swan a.k.a. KRT Hardjonagoro a few years after Indonesia's independence in 1945.

KRT is a royal title bestowed on Tik Swan by the Surakarta royal family.

In 1948, Tik Swan received an order from Indonesia's first president Soekarno to create batik motifs that could represent a united Indonesia.

When he made his order, Soekarno had in mind the tense political situation of post-independent Indonesia and also the increasingly unhealthy competition between batik producers and merchants in Yogyakarta, Solo, Pekalongan and Cirebon.

The young Chinese-Indonesian batik maestro took advice from ulemas all over Java and from members of the Surakarta royal family to create his now classic batik motifs.

By the time of his death in November 2008, Tik Swan had created at least 200 original batik motifs. 

Among his original creations were the Sawunggaling, Kuntul Melayang, Sedebyah, Parang Anggrek and Parang Megakusumo, a special motif dedicated to Soekarno's daughter, Indonesia's fifth president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

All of Tik Swan's batiks are sold nationally and internationally under the brand Batik Go Tik Swan.  

His batik motifs are characterized by bright colors, a combination of classical Surakarta and Yogyakarta designs, a distinctive soga or brown dye and pattern influences from Batik Pesisiran (batik from the north coast of Java).

Former first lady Ani kept an extensive collection of Batik Go Tik Swan. During SBY's presidency, Tik Swan was awarded with the Budaya Parama Dharma national star for his services to the development of Indonesian batik. 

The Sawunggaling    

The Sawunggaling motif features the classic symbols of a rooster and a male peacock taken from the Sawunggaling or Joko Berek folklore popular in East Java.

The folk story is centered on the hero Joko Berek, an orphan abandoned by his father, who loves cock fighting. 

He was reunited with his father, the ruler of Surabaya Tumenggung  Jayengrono, after winning a cock fighting competition.

His father changed Joko's name to Sawunggaling and they fought together to defend Surabaya against the Dutch. 

The symbol of the rooster in the Sawunggaling motif was taken from the folklore and represents the spiritual element of cock fighting in Javanese tradition. 

The symbol of the male peacock was inspired by a bird pattern found on a cloth worn by the Karangasem ruler Patih Jelantik.

Ani's version of the Sawunggaling batik features brightly colored roosters and peacocks on a black background.