Batik

The textile art of Batik

Batik is Indonesia´s renowed textile art, especially Javanese batik which is regarded as the world´s finest.

In the technique, dye-resist wax is applied to the cloth to prevent the dye from penetration certain areas, thus resulting in a pattern in the negative. Finely-detailed batik tulis (“written” design) is made possible with a tool unique to the Javanese.

Canting - Batik main tool (Picture: lowpricefabric.wordpress.com)

Canting – Batik main tool (Picture: lowpricefabric.wordpress.com)

The canting, a small copper cup with a spout through which melted wax flows, is mounted on a handle and wielded like a pen, allowing the artist to execute designs.

Canting (Picture: kampoengbatikpalbatu.com)

Canting (Picture: kampoengbatikpalbatu.com)

The first step is to draw a design on a piece of silk or cotton cloth. Areas not to be coloured in the first dyeing are covered with wax. This process alone can take hundreds of hours!

The cloth is then immersed in dye and dried off. With natural dyes, repeated immersion and dryings are necessary, and a single dyeing can take months to complete.

For the second dyeing, the cloth has to be dewaxed and waxed again.

The old wax is first removed by boiling water or wax from the unwanted areas is scraped off. Wax is then applied onto the desired areas.

Dyeing and drying follow, and the process repeated as many times as there are number of colours on the cloth.

In Central Java, certain motifs were once  reserved for the royal court, such as the parang rusak barong, a broken sword design that consists of a diagonal rows of interlocking scrolls.

Today, out of respect for the descendants of the royal family, many locals will choose not to wear batik printed with motifs that were originally regarded as sacred to the royal court.

Parang Rusak Barong batik pattern (Picture: batik-pattern.blogspot.com)

Parang Rusak Barong batik pattern (Picture: batik-pattern.blogspot.com)

Batik motifs are a piece of art and has an unique design!

Batik pattern (Picture: batik-pattern.blogspot.com)

Batik pattern (Picture: batik-pattern.blogspot.com)

Batik cap is produced with the use of a metal printing block.

Batik cap (Picture: kratonpedia.com)

Batik cap (Picture: kratonpedia.com)

The cap stamps are built out of thin strips of copper and wire soldered to an open frame.

The cap is dipped into heated wax before it is pressed firmly onto the cloth.

Batik cap and its patterns (Picture: mexicalibluesblog.com)

Batik cap and its patterns (Picture: mexicalibluesblog.com)

The advent of batik cap revitalised the industry in the 1890s, making mass-produced cloths that were affordable to all and creating an export trade from Java to the Outer Islands and to the world.

Batik (Picture: Nalasa Designs)

Batik (Picture: Nalasa Designs)

The batik is indeed a traditional piece of art and once you travel to Indonesia, do not leave without buy a batik to yourself and all your family and friends!

DID YOU KNOW?

Indigo dye is the most widely used natural blue dye in the world and it comes from the indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria) native to Indonesia. The recipe for the dye was once guarded secret, but today, it is known across the archipelago. The dye is prepared in a vat and goes through a fermentation and oxidation process.

Indigo (Picture: David Stroe)

Indigo (Picture: David Stroe)

Indigo leaves are first soaked in earthenware jars of water. The leaves are then removed, lime is added and, days later, ash is mixed in. Cotton or silk threads are left overnight in the mixture, and then hung up to oxidise. The process is repeated till the desired colour intensity is achieved and the indigo threads deemed ready to be woven.

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