Language: Indonesian
Source: In common use


Tumpal motifs are series of triangular shapes that are commonly found in Southeast Asian art. In Indonesia the motif appears mostly in the batik and weaving arts of Sumatra and northern Java.


Tumpal motif

Tumpal motif on a Javanese batik sarong.
Cleveland Museum of Art accession number 1928.656.


"The "tumpal" (triangle) design of the wide end border (a pan-Southeast Asian motif that commonly occurs on northern Javanese batiks) seems to have symbolized growth and fertility as well as the sacred mountain, Meru."

-Cleveland Museum of Art

"The meaning in the tumpal triangle motif is interpreted as divinity, knowledge, and power." 1

-Nurul Ridha Utami & Hadjar Pamadhi, 2018


Tumpal motifs on arms

These shapes are also found as decorative elements on arms, mainly the golden "crowns" of Aceh state regalia arms, but also -more rarely- on swords of Nias chiefs. They are also seen on the inlaid decoration of blunderbusses used on Sumatra, which were probably imported from Banjarmasin, Borneo.

Nias telogu and Aceh sikin

Tumpal motifs on arms.
Left: a Nias telögu. Sold at Mandarin Mansion in 2020.
Right: A golden crowned sikin panjang from Aceh. Author's collection.


1. Nurul Ridha Utami & Hadjar Pamadhi; An Axiological Study of Tumpal Batik Motif and Its Relevance to the Character Education. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 327. Proceedings of the International Conference on Art and Arts Education (ICAAE 2018).

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19th century, probably originating from Cirebon.


The Hindu mythical brother of Hanuman, the Monkey King.


A Madurese keris hilt, carved from dark hardwood in the form of a Dutch cuirassier.


With floral overlay, kinatah, typical for the period.


Of typical South Borneo workmanship, but formed like a mandau from Kutai.


Rare old keris handle made into a European wax seal.