Indonesian Chinese Visual Language Of ‘Qilin’ On Lasem Batik Altar Cloth (Tok Wi)


  • Christine Claudia Lukman Maranatha Christian University
  • Yunita Setyoningrum Maranatha Christian University
  • Sandy Rismantojo Maranatha Christian University



batik, tok wi cloth, ancestor altar, qilin, Lasem, Chinese diasporas


Lasem batik industry has been widely known as a coastal Java region batik (batik pesisir) producer with strong Chinese influence.  One of its famous batik product is tok wi, a known term of table cloth used to cover the facade of a Chinese ancestor altar table during offering rituals.  Tok wi cloths were made to replace the original silk-embroidered version from China by Indonesian Chinese diasporas in Java.  Images of ‘qilin’ (auspicious mythological animal with horse-like body, scaled skin, and dragon-like head) were often found in the design of tok wiclothes.  This article explores various image representation of qilin on tok wiclothes through Primadi Tabrani theory of visual language. Whilst qilin was appointed as the main content image, this research analysed the way of image shown and the inner grammar of the tokwi composition. This research found that the images of qilin in the Lasem tok wiclothes were obviously depicted differently in some ways as qilin images on tok wicloths from main land China.  The images were still represented the same symbolic Chinese ideology as the old tradition, however there were additional values found on the visual language of the image depiction, caused by the essence and characteristics of batik making. 

Author Biographies

  • Christine Claudia Lukman, Maranatha Christian University
    Visual Communication Design Study Program
  • Yunita Setyoningrum, Maranatha Christian University
    Interior Design Study Program
  • Sandy Rismantojo, Maranatha Christian University
    Visual Communication Design Study Program


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