It’s strange to think that patterns can be forbidden, on as large a scale as over the entire Indonesian archipelago. Almost a century ago, this was the case for several Batik motifs, including the Parang Rusak. Like many before him, the Sri Paduka Sultan HB VIII - who ruled the Yogyakarta Sultanate in the Indonesian island of Java from 1921 to 1939 - outlawed the use of particular designs outside of members of the Yogyakarta Kraton, the royal family. One of those disallowed by his highness was the Parang Rusak. Fortunately, for the rest of us - the world’s bourgeois and the other non-royals of society, the Parang Rusak is now a staple amongst easily accessible and adapted batik motifs.
The element of conflict that colours the Parang Rusak’s past doesn’t stop with its prohibition, however, and as one of the oldest batik motifs, the stories woven into the pattern itself are truly interesting.
The origins of the pattern’s name stem from two possible explanations, and it has been debated which holds more weight than the other, though we like to think they aren’t mutually exclusive. Firstly, the word parang is said to have been derived from pereng, which means slope. The print itself is mesmerising, and is a continuous diagonal, sloping flow of curvatures, uninterrupted for the length of the actual fabric onto which it is printed. It is crafted to also represent the ocean’s unbroken waves, perpetually moving and grazing shores for as long as time itself, which couldn’t seem more fitting for our brand’s connection to Southeast Asian waters.
Secondly, parang also means machete, and represents the ever-fighting spirit. The dynamics of the patterns seen in this way convey agility and alertness, and the Parang Rusak was often adorned by soldiers as a badge of honour upon victory in war. We believe that the Parang Rusak truly embodies the Southeast Asian man and his ideals, and we can’t imagine a more suitable print to begin our journey with.
Another interesting thing to note is that in the past, the size of the print signified the wearer’s status; the larger the scale of the pattern, the higher the rank of the wearer. In the world of batik, swimwear and in particular Indonesian royalty, we’ve got a lot of room to grow, so we decided to start our Batik Parang print off small.