The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Anthropological Studies in Textile Globalization of Batik

Joint Research Coordinator YOSHIMOTO Shinobu

Reserch Theme List


The objective of this joint project is to conduct core research that will establish the framework for anthropological research to shed light on the globalization phenomena of how the designs and techniques of Java printed fabric or batik making that originated primarily on the island of Java in Indonesia developed in regions throughout the world.
For the designs in the globalization of Java printed fabric and its techniques (batik-dyeing techniques), in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, European nations, especially Great Britain, borrowed print designs from print textiles. India and Japan produced print textiles with these designs. The designs took root as everyday fashions in modern and contemporary tropical Africa. Today the production of such print textiles is being carried out in Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, China and other countries with Java printed fabric designs, which appeal to markets in Africa and Southeast Asia. Alternatively, the batik-dyeing techniques used in Java printed fabric-making have also been further developed by aboriginal peoples in Australia and several countries in the Caribbean region as production techniques for tourist crafts. In Japan, batik designs and techniques have been adopted in kimono making.

Research Results

Batik, which was originally produced primarily on the Indonesian island of Java with batik dyeing of cloth, has become famous throughout the world. However, the globalization of the techniques and designs have been unknown until now. In this research we were able to paint a rather clear picture of the globalization of the techniques and designs involved from the Industrial Revolution until now, whereby they spread and developed in wide range of geographical settings throughout the world. We determined that although the globalization of batik designs and techniques usually consisted of either the adoption of Java printed cloth techniques only or designs only, for the printed cotton fabrics developed in Africa, African prints, or the cotton prints produced in Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia, the batik-dyeing techniques and designs of batik, or Java printed cotton fabrics, were adopted as an integrated product. We were able to situate these batiks as products of globalization.
The results of the joint research were presented at the public exhibition entitled “The Batik Story, Then and Now—From Java to the World” held at the main hall of the museum from September to December of this year. In addition, the special exhibition pictorial guide “The Batik Story, Then and Now—From Java to the World” serves as a published record of this joint research.