We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Cloth with cloud motif (megamundung)

20th century


Unknown Artist

No image
  • Details

    Other Title
    Skirt cloth (kain panjang) with 'heavy with clouds' motif (megamundung)
    Place where the work was made
    Cirebon West Java Java Indonesia
    20th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    cotton, dyes; batik
    120.8 x 260.6 cm (irreg.)
    Gift of John Yu, in memory of George Soutter 2012.Donated through the Australian Government Cultural Gifts Program.
    Not on display
    Accession number
  • About

    Megamendung (cloud motif) batik is a wonderfully striking motif of Chinese inspiration that originated in the port town of Cirebon on the north coast of Java.

    Each cloud is made up of a number of bands of colour which get darker as they approach the centre of the cloud, creating an enticing visual effect and the appearance of a rain laden cloud. This graduated colouring of the motif is the product of an arduous process of waxing and dying. The outer band is first applied by hand (batik tulis) and then the cloth is dyed. The process is then repeated with each consecutive band being added. As each band of wax is added that area is protected from the dye while the unprotected area becomes darker.

    The quality of such batiks is measured by the execution of the motif and by the number of bands needed to produce it. This example exhibits six bands or stages of dying.

    Traditionally the blue cloud motif would be surrounded by a deep red. More recently in the 20th century, the pattern has experienced increased use as a popular material for long sleeve batik shirts worn on formal occasions with varied background colours including white like this example.