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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Batik (disambiguation)
The Indonesian president Joko Widodo and Paspampres agents wearing batik shirts
Batik (Javanese pronunciation: [bae]; Indonesian: [batk]) is a technique of wax-
resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, or cloth made using this technique. [1] Batik is
made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called
a canting (Javanese pronunciation: [anti], also spelled tjanting), or by printing the
resist with a copper stamp called a cap (Javanese pronunciation: [ap], also spelled
tjap).[2] The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour
selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water,
and repeating if multiple colours are desired.[1]
A tradition of making batik is found in various countries, including Indonesia,
Malaysia, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Nigeria; the
batik of Indonesia, however, may be the best-known.[3][4] Indonesian batik made in
the island of Java has a long history of acculturation, with diverse patterns influenced
by a variety of cultures, and is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique,
and the quality of workmanship.[5] In October 2009, UNESCO designated Indonesian
batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[6]

The word batik is Javanese in origin. It may either come from the Javanese
word amba ('to write') and titik ('dot'), or may derive from a hypothetical Proto-
Austronesian root *beCk ('to tattoo'). The word is first recorded in English in
the Encyclopdia Britannica of 1880, in which it is spelled battik. It is attested in the
Indonesian Archipelago during the Dutch colonial period in various
forms: mbatek, mbatik, batek and batik.[7][8][9]

Wax-resist dyed textile from Niya (Tarim Basin), China

Pattern of clothes of 13th century East Javanese Prajnaparamitastatue resembles

Wax resist dyeing of fabric is an ancient art form. It already existed in Egypt in the
4th century BC, where it was used to wrap mummies; linen was soaked in wax, and
scratched using a stylus. In Asia, the technique was practised in China during
the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), and in India and Japan during the Nara
Period (645-794 AD). In Africa it was originally practised by the Yoruba tribe in
Nigeria, Soninke and Wolof in Senegal.[10] These African version however,
uses cassava starch or rice paste, or mud as a resist instead of beeswax.[11]
The art of batik is most highly developed in the island of Java in Indonesia. In Java,
all the materials for the process are readily available cotton and beeswax and
plants from which different vegetable dyes are made.[12] Indonesian batik predates
written records: G. P. Rouffaer argues that the technique might have been
introduced during the 6th or 7th century from India or Sri Lanka.[10] On the other
hand, the Dutch archaeologist J.L.A. Brandes and the Indonesian archaeologist F.A.
Sutjipto believe Indonesian batik is a native tradition, since another regions in
Indonesia such as Toraja, Flores, Halmahera, and Papua, which were not directly
influenced by Hinduism, have an age-old tradition of batik making.[13]
Rouffaer reported that the gringsing pattern was already known by the 12th century
in Kediri, East Java. He concluded that this delicate pattern could be created only by
using the canting, an etching tool that holds a small reservoir of hot wax, and
proposed that the canting was invented in Java around that time.[13] The carving
details of clothes worn by East Javanese Prajnaparamita statues from around the
13th century show intricate floral patterns within rounded margins, similar to today's
traditional Javanese jlamprang or ceplok batik motif.[14] The motif is thought to
represent the lotus, a sacred flower in Hindu-Buddhist beliefs. This evidence
suggests that intricate batik fabric patterns applied with the canting existed in 13th-
century Java or even earlier.[15]
In Europe, the technique was described for the first time in the History of Java,
published in London in 1817 by Stamford Raffles, who had been a British governor
for Bengkulu, Sumatra. In 1873 the Dutch merchant Van Rijckevorsel gave the
pieces he collected during a trip to Indonesia to the ethnographic museum in
Rotterdam. Today the Tropenmuseum houses the biggest collection of Indonesian
batik in the Netherlands. The Dutch and Chinese colonists were active in developing
batik, particularly coastal batik, in the late colonial era. They introduced new patterns
as well as the use of the cap (copper block stamps) to mass-produce batiks.
Displayed at the Exposition Universelle at Paris in 1900, the Indonesian batik
impressed the public and artists.[10]
In the 1920s, Javanese batik makers migrating to Malaya (now Malaysia) introduced
the use of wax and copper blocks to its east coast.[16]
In Subsaharan Africa, Javanese batik was introduced in the 19th century by Dutch
and English traders. The local people there adapted the Javanese batik, making
larger motifs with thicker lines and more colours. In the 1970s, batik was introduced
to Australia, where aboriginal artists at Erna Bella have developed it as their own


Batik craftswomen in Java drawing intricate patterns using canting and wax that are
kept hot and liquid in a heated small pan.
Firstly, a cloth is washed, soaked and beaten with a large mallet. Patterns are drawn
with pencil and later redrawn using hot wax, usually made from a mixture
of paraffin or beeswax, sometimes mixed with plant resins, which functions as a dye-
resist. The wax can be applied with a variety of tools. A pen-like instrument called
a canting (Javanese pronunciation: [tanti], sometimes spelled with old Dutch
orthography tjanting) is the most common. A tjanting is made from a small copper
reservoir with a spout on a wooden handle. The reservoir holds the resist which
flows through the spout, creating dots and lines as it moves. For larger patterns, a
stiff brush may be used.[18] Alternatively, a copper block stamp called
a cap (Javanese pronunciation: [tap]; old spelling tjap) is used to cover large areas
more efficiently.[19]
Applying wax using cap(copper plate stamps).
After the cloth is dry, the resist is removed by boiling or scraping the cloth. The areas
treated with resist keep their original colour; when the resist is removed the contrast
between the dyed and undyed areas forms the pattern.[20] This process is repeated
as many times as the number of colours desired.
The most traditional type of batik, called batik tulis (written batik), is drawn using only
the canting. The cloth needs to be drawn on both sides, and dipped in a dye bath
three to four times. The whole process may take up to a year; it yields considerably
finer patterns than stamped batik.[5]

Many Indonesian batik patterns are symbolic. Infants are carried in batik slings
decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and certain batik designs
are reserved for brides and bridegrooms, as well as their families.[21] Some designs
are reserved for royalties, and even banned to be worn by commoners.
Consequently, a person's rank could be determined by the pattern of the batik he or
she wore.[22][23] Further study to the geometry of symbolism in Indonesian batik
showed the applicability of fractal geometry in traditional designs.[24]
Batik garments play a central role in certain Javanese rituals, such as the ceremonial
casting of royal batik into a volcano. In the Javanese naloni mitoni ceremony, the
mother-to-be is wrapped in seven layers of batik, wishing her good things. Batik is
also prominent in the tedak siten ceremony when a child touches the earth for the
first time.[25]
In October 2009, UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral
and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. As part of the acknowledgment, UNESCO
insisted that Indonesia preserve its heritage.[21] The day, October 2, 2009 has been
stated by Indonesian government as National Batik Day,[26] as also at the time the
map of Indonesian batik diversity by Hokky Situngkir was opened for public for the
first time by the Indonesian Ministry of Research and Technology. [27]
The popularity of batik in Indonesia has varied. Historically, it was essential for
ceremonial costumes and it was worn as part of a kebaya dress, commonly worn
every day. The use of batik was already recorded in the 12th century, and the textile
has become a strong source of identity for Indonesians crossing religious, racial and
cultural boundaries. It is also believed the motif made the batik famous.[28]

Examples of Cultural influences on Batik Patterns and Motifs[29]

Batik Pattern Geographic Location Sample

kawung, ceplok,
gringsing, parang, lereng,
truntum, sekar
Native jagad (combination of
Respective areas
Indonesian various motifs) and other
decorative motifs of
Java, Dayak, Batak, Papu
a, Riau, etc.

garuda, banji,
cuwiri, kalpataru,
Hindu- meru or gunungan,
Buddhist semen rama,
pringgondani, sidha asih,
sidha mukti, sidha luhur

besurek or Arabic
Islamic Bengkulu, Cirebon, Jambi
calligraphy, buraq

burung hong (Chinese

phoenix), liong/naga (Chin
Lasem, Cirebon,
ese dragon), qilin,
Chinese Pekalongan, Tasikmalaya, C
megamendung (Chinese-
style cloud), lok tjan
Examples of Cultural influences on Batik Patterns and Motifs[29]

Batik Pattern Geographic Location Sample

jlamprang, peacock, Cirebon, Garut, Pekalongan,

elephant Madura

buketan (floral bouquet),

European fairytale,
European (col colonial images such as
onial era) house, horses, bicycle
and European-dressed

sakura, hokokai,
Japanese Java
chrysanthemum, butterfly

The batik industry of Java flourished from the late 1800s to early 1900s, but declined
during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia.[5] With increasing preference of
western clothing, the batik industry further declined following the Indonesian
independence. Batik has somewhat revived at the turn of the 21st century, through
the efforts of Indonesian fashion designers to innovate batik by incorporating new
colours, fabrics, and patterns. Batik has become a fashion item for many
Indonesians, and may be seen on shirts, dresses, or scarves for casual wear; it is a
preferred replacement for jacket-and-tie at certain receptions. Traditional
batik sarongs are still used in many occasions.[29]
Contemporary men's batik shirt in Solostyle, sogancolour with lereng motif
After the UNESCO recognition for Indonesian batik on 2 October 2009, the
Indonesian administration asked Indonesians to wear batik on Fridays, and wearing
batik every Friday has been encouraged in government offices and private
companies ever since.[30] 2 October is also celebrated as National Batik Day in
Indonesia.[30] Batik had helped improve the small business local economy, batik
sales in Indonesia had reached Rp 3.9 trillion (US$436.8 million) in 2010, an
increase from Rp 2.5 trillion in 2006. The value of batik exports, meanwhile,
increased from $14.3 million in 2006 to $22.3 million in 2010. [31]
Batik is also popular in the neighbouring countries of Singapore and Malaysia. It is
produced in Malaysia with similar, but not identical, methods to those used in
Indonesia. Prior to UNESCO's recognition and following the 2009 Pendet
controversy, Indonesia and Malaysia disputed the ownership of batik culture.
However, Dr Fiona Kerlogue of the Horniman museum argued that the Malaysian
printed wax textiles, made for about a century, were quite a different tradition from
the "very fine" traditional Indonesian batiks produced for many centuries.[32]
Batik is featured in the national airline uniforms of the three countries, represented
by batik prints worn by flight attendants of Singapore Airlines, Garuda
Indonesia and Malaysian Airlines. The female uniform of Garuda Indonesia flight
attendants is a modern interpretation of the Kartini style kebaya with parang
gondosuli motifs.[33][34]

Terminology of Indonesian batik

Batik is traditionally sold in 2.25-metre lengths used for kain panjang or sarong. It is
worn by wrapping it around the hip, or made into a hat known as blangkon. The cloth
can be filled continuously with a single pattern or divided into several sections.
Certain patterns are only used in certain sections of the cloth. For example, a row
of isosceles triangles, forming the pasung motif, as well as diagonal floral motifs
called dhlorong, are commonly used for the head.
However, pasung and dhlorong are occasionally found in the body. Other motifs
such as buketan (flower bouquet) and birds are commonly used in either the head or
the body.[5]

The head is a rectangular section of the cloth which is worn at the front. The
head section can be at the middle of the cloth, or placed at one or both ends.
The papan inside of the head can be used to determine whether the cloth is kain
panjang or sarong.[5]
The body is the main part of the cloth, and is filled with a wide variety of patterns.
The body can be divided into two alternating patterns and colours called pagi-
sore ('dawn-dusk'). Brighter pattern are shown during the day, while darker
pattern are shown in the evening. The alternating colours give the impression of
two batik sets.[5]
Margins are often plain, but floral and lace-like patterns, as well as wavy lines
described as a dragon, are common in the area beside seret.[5]
As each region has its own traditional pattern, batiks are commonly distinguished by
the region they originated in, such as batik Solo, batik Pekalongan, and
batik Madura. Batiks from Java can be distinguished by their general pattern and
colours into batik pedalaman (inland batik) or batik pesisir (coastal batik). Batiks
which do not fall neatly into one of these two categories are only referred to by their
region. A mapping of batik designs from all places in Indonesia depicts the
similarities and reflects cultural assimilation within batik designs.[35]
Javanese Batik[edit]
Inland Batik[edit
A typical inland batik has deep earthy colours with various indigenous patterns
(contemporary kain panjang with sidha pattern from Solo).
Inland batik or batik kraton (Javanese court batik) is the oldest form of batik tradition
known in Java. Inland batik has earthy colour[36] such as black, indigo, brown,
and sogan (brown-yellow colour made from the tree Peltophorum pterocarpum),
sometimes against a white background, with symbolic patterns that are mostly free
from outside influence. Certain patterns are reserved for royalty, while other are worn
on specific occasions. At a Javanese wedding for example, the bride wears specific
patterns at each stage of the ceremony.[37] Noted inland batiks are produced
in Solo and Jogjakarta, cities traditionally regarded as the centre of Javanese
culture. Batik Solo typically has sogan background and is preserved by
the Susuhunan and Mangkunegaran Court. Batik Jogja typically has white
background and is preserved by the Yogyakarta Sultanate and Pakualaman
Coastal Batik[edit]

In contrast, a typical coastal batik has vibrant colours with patterns drawn from
numerous cultures (kain panjang with lotus motifs from Semarang, 1880).
Coastal batik is produced in several areas of northern Java and Madura. In contrast
to inland batik, coastal batiks have vibrant colours and patterns inspired by a wide
range of cultures as a consequence of maritime trading.[36] Recurring motifs include
European flower bouquets, Chinese phoenix, and Persian peacocks.[21] Noted
coastal batiks are produced in Pekalongan, Cirebon, Lasem, Tuban, and Madura.
Pekalongan has the most active batik industry.[5]
A notable sub-type of coastal batik called Jawa Hokokai is not attributed to a
particular region. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in early 1940, the
batik industry greatly declined due to material shortages. The workshops funded by
the Japanese however were able to produce extremely fine batiks called Jawa
Hokokai.[5] Common motifs of Hokokai includes Japanese cherry blossoms,
butterflies, and chrysanthemums.
Another coastal batik called tiga negeri (batik of three lands) is attributed to three
regions: Lasem, Pekalongan, and Solo, where the batik would be dipped in red, blue,
and sogan dyes respectively. As of 1980, batik tiga negeri was only produced in one
Sundanese Batik[edit]
Sundanese or Priangan Batik is the term for batik from the Priangan region of West
Java and Banten.[38] Although Priangan batiks can use a wide range of colours, a
preference for indigo is seen in some of its variants. Natural indigo dye made
from Indigofera is among the oldest known dyes in Java, and its local
name tarum has lent its name to the Citarum river and the Tarumanagara kingdom,
which suggests that ancient West Java was once a major producer of natural indigo.
Noted Priangan batik is produced in Ciamis, Garut, and Tasikmalaya. Other
traditions include Batik Kuningan influenced by batik Cirebon, batik Banten that
developed quite independently, and an older tradition of batik Baduy.
Batik Banten employs bright pastel colours and represents a revival of a lost art from
the Sultanate of Banten, rediscovered through archaeological work during 2002
2004. Twelve motifs from locations such as Surosowan and several other places
have been identified.[39]
Batik Baduy only employs indigo colour in shades ranged from bluish black to deep
blue. It is traditionally worn as iket, a type of Sundanese headress similar
to Balinese udeng, by Outer Baduy people of Lebak Regency, Banten.[40]
Sumatran Batik[edit]
Trade relations between the Melayu Kingdom in Jambi and Javanese coastal cities
have thrived since the 13th century. Therefore, coastal batik from northern Java
probably influenced Jambi. In 1875, Haji Mahibat from Central Java revived the
declining batik industry in Jambi. The village of Mudung Laut in Pelayangan district is
known for producing batik Jambi. Batik Jambi, as well as Javanese batik, influenced
the Malaysian batik.[41]
The Minangkabau people also produce batik called batiak tanah liek (clay batik),
which use clay as dye for the fabric. The fabric is immersed in clay for more than 1
day and later designed with motifs of animal and flora.[42] The Batik from Bengkulu, a
city on west coast of Sumatra, is called Batik Besurek, which literary means "batik
with letters" as they draw inspiration from Arabic calligraphy.
Balinese Batik[edit]
Batik making in the island of Bali is relatively new, but a fast-growing industry. Many
patterns are inspired by local designs, which are favoured by the local Balinese and
domestic tourists.[43] Objects from nature such as frangipani and hibiscus flowers,
birds or fishes, and daily activities such as Balinese dancer and ngaben processions
or religious and mythological creatures such as barong, kala and winged lion are
common. Modern batik artists express themselves freely in a wide range of
Contemporary batik is not limited to traditional or ritual wearing in Bali. Some
designers promote batik Bali as elegant fabric that can be used to make casual or
formal cloth. Using high class batik, like hand made batik tulis, can show social

A batik craftsman making batik. Malaysian batik are usually patterned with floral
motifs with light colouring.
Main article: Malaysian batik
Batik was mentioned in the 17th century Malay Annals. The legend goes
when Laksamana Hang Nadim was ordered by Malacca King, Sultan Mahmud, to
sail to India to buy 140 pieces of serasah cloth (batik) with 40 types of flowers
depicted on each. Unable to find any that fulfilled the requirements explained to him,
he made up his own. On his return unfortunately his ship sank and he only managed
to bring four pieces, earning displeasure from the Sultan.[45][46]
The method of Malaysian batik making is different from those of Indonesian
Javanese batik, the pattern being larger and simpler with only occasional use of
the canting to create intricate patterns. It relies heavily on brush painting to apply
colours to fabrics. The colours also tend to be lighter and more vibrant than deep
coloured Javanese batik. The most popular motifs are leaves and flowers. Malaysian
batik often displays plants and flowers to avoid the interpretation of human and
animal images as idolatry, in accordance with local Islamic doctrine.[47] However, the
butterfly theme is a common exception.
Indians are known to use resist method of printing designs on cotton fabrics, which
can be traced back 2000 years. Initially, wax and even rice starch were used for
printing on fabrics. Until recently batik was made only for dresses and tailored
garments, but modern batik is applied in numerous items, such as murals, wall
hangings, paintings, household linen, and scarves, with livelier and brighter
patterns.[20] Contemporary batik making in India is also done by the Deaf women
of Delhi, these women are fluent in Indian Sign Language and also work in other
vocational programs.[48]
Sri Lanka[edit]
Main article: Batik industry in Sri Lanka

A batik craftswoman brush painting with wax in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Over the past century, batik making in Sri Lanka has become firmly established. The
Sri Lankan batik industry is a small scale industry which can employ individual
design talent and mainly deals with foreign customers for profit. It is now the most
visible of the island's crafts with galleries and factories, large and small, having
sprung up in many tourist areas. Rows of small stalls selling batiks can be found all
along Hikkaduwa's Galle Road strip. Mahawewa, on the other hand, is famous for its
batik factories.[49][50]
Batik is done by the ethnic people in the South-West of China.
The Miao, Bouyei and Gejia people use a dye resist method for their traditional
costumes. The traditional costumes are made up of decorative fabrics, which they
achieve by pattern weaving and wax resist. Almost all the Miao decorate hemp and
cotton by applying hot wax then dipping the cloth in an indigo dye. The cloth is then
used for skirts, panels on jackets, aprons and baby carriers. Like the Javanese, their
traditional patterns also contain symbolism, the patterns include the dragon, phoenix,
and flowers.[51]
In Africa, where batik was originally imported by Dutch merchants
from Indonesia (then the Netherlands East Indies), paste made from starch or mud is
used as a resist instead of wax. The most developed resist-dyeing skills are to be
found in Nigeria where the Yoruba make adire cloths. Two methods of resist are
used: adire eleso which involves tied and stitched designs and adire eleko that uses
starch paste. The paste is most often made from cassava starch, rice, and other
ingredients boiled together to produce a smooth thick paste. The Yoruba of West
Africa use cassava paste as a resist while the Soninke and Wolof people in Senegal
uses rice paste. The Bamana people of Mali use mud as a resist.[11]
What is Batik?

Batik is both an art and a craft, which is becoming more popular and well known in
the West as a wonderfully creative medium. The art of decorating cloth in this way,
using wax and dye, has been practised for centuries. In Java, Indonesia, batik is part
of an ancient tradition, and some of the finest batik cloth in the world is still made
there. The word batik originates from the Javanese tik and means to dot.
To make a batik, selected areas of the cloth are blocked out by brushing or drawing
hot wax over them, and the cloth is then dyed. The parts covered in wax resist the
dye and remain the original colour. This process of waxing and dyeing can be
repeated to create more elaborate and colourful designs. After the final dyeing the
wax is removed and the cloth is ready for wearing or showing.
Contemporary batik, while owing much to the past, is markedly different from the
more traditional and formal styles. For example, the artist may use etching,
discharge dyeing, stencils, different tools for waxing and dyeing, wax recipes with
different resist values and work with silk, cotton, wool, leather, paper or even wood
and ceramics.
Batik is historically the most expressive and subtle of the resist methods. The ever
widening range of techniques available offers the artist the opportunity to explore a
unique process in a flexible and exciting way.
The History of Batik

Evidence of early examples of batik have been found in the Far East, Middle East,
Central Asia and India from over 2000 years ago. It is conceivable that these areas
developed independently, without the influence from trade or cultural exchanges.
However, it is more likely that the craft spread from Asia to the islands of the Malay
Archipelago and west to the Middle East through the caravan route. Batik was
practised in China as early as the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618). These were silk batiks
and these have also been discovered in Nara, Japan in the form of screens and
ascribed to the Nara period (AD 710-794). It is probable that these were made by
Chinese artists. They are decorated with trees, animals, flute players, hunting
scenes and stylised mountains.
No evidence of very old cotton batiks have been found in India but frescoes in the
Ajunta caves depict head wraps and garments which could well have been batiks. In
Java and Bali temple ruins contain figures whose garments are patterned in a
manner suggestive of batik. By 1677 there is evidence of a considerable export
trade, mostly on silk from China to Java, Sumatra, Persia and Hindustan. In Egypt
linen and occasionally woollen fabrics have been excavated bearing white patterns
on a blue ground and are the oldest known and date from the 5th century A.D. They
were made in Egypt, possibly Syria. In central Africa resist dyeing using cassava and
rice paste has existed for centuries in the Yoruba tribe of Southern Nigeria and
Indonesia, most particularly the island of Java, is the area where batik has reached
the greatest peak of accomplishment. The Dutch brought Indonesian craftsmen to
teach the craft to Dutch warders in several factories in Holland from 1835. The Swiss
produced imitation batik in the early 1940s. A wax block form of printing was
developed in Java using a cap.
By the early 1900s the Germans had developed mass production of batiks. There
are many examples of this form of batik as well as hand-produced work in many
parts of the world today. Computerisation of batik techniques is a very recent
Reproduced from The Art of Batik, written and published by The Batik Guild, 1999
Batik in Java

There is nowhere in the world where the art of batik has been developed to the
highest standards as in the island of Java in Indonesia. All the raw materials for the
process are readily available - cotton and beeswax and many plants from which the
dyes are made.
It is not known when the batik was first made but the traditional skills were
particularly well developed over hundreds of years in Central Java around
Yogyakarta and Solo under the patronage of the Sultan and his court. Designs were
copies and in some cases the cloths could only be used by certain people or on
certain occasions. The royal families had their own proscribed designs. On the coast
designs were developed differently, influenced by settlers from China, the Dutch
colonists and traders from India and Arabia.
Two methods of applying wax are used:
1The cloth is hung over the frame and the design is drawn on with a canting, a small
copper cupped spout which is attached to a bamboo or wooden handle. The canting
is dipped into a pot of hot wax and then allowed to flow through the spout on to the
fabric. On thicker fabrics the waxing is carried out on both sides. This process is
carried out by the women.

Javanese woman working using a canting

2The cloth is stretched on to long tables and a cap or copper stamping tool is used.
This is dipped into a pan of hot wax and pressed on to the fabric. This enables the
design to be repeated many times and is usually done on both sides of the fabric by
men. This is a much faster method of wax application.

Javanese man using a copper stamp

The traditional dyes used are deep indigo blues and soga browns and these are still
the characteristic colours for work in central Java. Towards the end of the 19th
century chemical dyes were introduced in the coastal regions and as a result of this
the colours are usually brilliant and more varied.
The final hand made lengths of cloth, known as Tulis, may take several months to
produce and are consequently very expensive. Everywhere in Indonesia people still
wear clothing made from batik cloth and the tourist industry has opened up a new
market for cheap batik clothing and pictures.
Batik in China

China has a long history of batik production dating back to the sixth century. Today
you can still find batik being done by the ethnic people in Guizhou Province, in the
South-West of China. Here the Miao, Bouyei and Gejia people use a dye resist
method that is different from the Han Chinese. There are also many different sub
groups within the Miao minority. The Miao place great emphasis on their costumes
which are made up of decorative fabrics which they achieve by pattern weaving and
wax resist. Almost all the Miao decorate hemp and cotton (not silk) by applying hot
wax then dipping the cloth in an indigo dye. The cloth is then used for skirts, panels
on jackets, aprons and baby carriers.
Indigo is used chiefly for the basic cloth throughout Guizo to give dark blues. A paste
is made from the harvested plants which have been soaked in a wooden barrel.
Wax resisted fabric was probably one of the earliest forms of decoration in Guizhou
as all the materials were at hand. Beeswax is the main ingredient but other resins or
wax are possibly added. The wax resist never exploits crackle, the aim is to produce
a clear image and beeswax is both tenacious and flexible. The wax is often heated in
a little pot, resting in hot embers.
Once applied the wax appears black on the fabric but at the end of the process the
wax is removed from the fabric. The fabric is then rinsed in cool water and air dried.
The beeswax can be reused.
The usual tools for applying wax are of copper and brass with bamboo handles.
They are made from 2 small triangular pieces of metal, their apexes bound to a
bamboo holder by copper wire. It is held like a pen either upright or at a slant to the
cloth which is laid flat on a board. This tool lends itself to the drawing of straight or
slightly curving lines.
Chinese batik workers
The Miao, Gejia and Bouyei girls are highly skilled at batik. They use very finely
drawn circular and double spiral designs representing the horns of the water buffalo,
symbolising their ancestor's life and death. Girls start learning to produce batik from
the age of 6 and 7 years. The finest work is found on baby carriers, sleeves of their
jackets and skirts. The more traditional designs are geometric, where the most
skilled wax resist reads as a fine blue line on a white ground. With the influence of
the Han Chinese more figurative designs like flowers, birds, fish have been
introduced over the centuries.
Batik in Africa

There are examples of batik textiles in many parts of Africa but the most developed
skills are to be found in Nigeria where the Yoruba people make adire cloths. Two
methods of resist are used: adire eleso which involves tied and stitched designs and
adire eleko where starch paste is used. The paste is most often made from cassava
(a root plant) flour, rice, alum or copper sulphate boiled together to produce a
smooth thick paste. The Yoruba of West Africa used cassava paste as a resist while
the people of Senegal use rice paste. The paste is applied in two different ways.
By using freehand drawing of traditional designs using a feather, thin stick, piece of
fine bone or a metal or wooden comb-like tool. This is done by women.
Forced through a thin metal stencil with a flexible metal or wooden tool. This enables
accurate repeat patterns to be achieved. This is done by men.

The patterning of cloth is usually a family tradition

handed down from mother to daughter as a cottage
industry. The cloth is usually divided into squares or rectangles and designs
represent everyday tools, carvings, beadwork, activities or traditional images of the
artists own culture or tribal history. An eleko cloth is usually made up of two, two and
a half yard pieces sewn together.
Many women work alone but group dyeing sessions are more cost effective. The
more commercial cloths are the stencil products and are often produced by men.
The traditional dye is indigo from a plant which grows throughout Africa. In many
places these are now cultivated and different varieties produce a variation of the dark
blue colour. Once the paste resist is dry, the fabric is dyed in large clay pots or pits
dug in the earth. After drying the paste is scraped off to reveal a white or pale blue
design. The usual cloth is cotton but highly prized clothing using wild silk is
sometimes produced. In recent years other cloths using African designs have been
produced in Britain (Manchester cloths) and Holland. These mass produced fabrics
are machine made. Some are now produced in various African countries.
Mud Cloth
This fabric is made by the Bamana people of Mali. The ground fabric is woven of
hand spun cotton yarn in narrow strips on the mans double-heddle loom. The cloth is
then dyed yellow and the design applied with river mud. This 'saddens' the yellow,
turning it dark brown. The yellow dye in the unpainted areas is then discharged with
a caustic preparation bleaching out these areas and returning them to their original
colour. This produces cloth with the characteristic dark brown and white pattern.

About Batik
Batik is a "resist" process for making designs on fabric. The artist uses wax to prevent dye
from penetrating the cloth, leaving "blank" areas in the dyed fabric. The process, wax resist
then dye, can be repeated over and over to create complex multicolored designs.
Batik is especially unique due to the way certain wax blends will "crackle" during handling,
allowing lines of color to come through on resisted areas.
Batik can be done with many types of dye & wax on cotton, silk and other natural fabrics.
Most weights will work, provided the wax penetrates all the way through the fabric, but the
finer weaves work best for detail work. We used cotton, but feel free to use what you want.
Silk is a little more challenging to work with because of its unique wicking properties.
Batik masters employ a process of repeated waxing and tub dyeing to achieve their final
result. This method requires mastery of color mixing and over dyeing; as each layer of dye is
applied over the last a new color is produced. You don't have to be a batik master, however,
to get some great fun results.
This method uses repeated layers of wax and dye applied to the fabric, yielding an
overlapping color design. If you plan to do multiple layers you will want to dye your colors
from lightest to darkest.
Step 1: Pre-wash your fabric to remove any impurities that might interfere with dyeing. We
recommend using Synthrapol for this.
Step 2: Pre-dye a few of your fabrics in some different base colors, we did some in #3
Golden Yellow and #25 Turquoise.
Step 3: Start melting your premixed Batik Wax in the little melting pot, or for bigger
projects, in a double boiler, electric wax pot, or old electric frying pan set at about 220-
230F **

Step 4: Stretch the fabric on a Frame or Hoop, that will keep the fabric flat and horizontal or
you can work on some newsprint paper or a piece of cardboard if you don't have a frame.
This is often easier with larger pieces of fabric.
Step 5: Start applying your wax with tools of your choice...

You can use Tjanting tools to create detail and fine line designs. We used the single spout
Tjanting to create this fun leaf pattern.
A double spouted Tjanting can give you fun effects or parallel lines. We used it to make a
wavy random design across this fabric.

Brushes are very easy to use for larger designs and are a great way to get kids in on the fun.
Make bold designs like circles, stripes and funky polkadots.

In Indonesia, wax designs are repeatedly stamped onto the fabric with intricate metal stamps
made of copper called Tjaps or Caps (pronounced "chops") but you don't need anything so
fancy to start. We stamped this fabric with a squiggly potato masher (photo).
Pro-Tip: You can make fun stamps out of just about anything that will take the heat of the
wax: the cut ends of some veggies like celery bundles and bell peppers can make fun prints.
Look around and experiment.
Remember: When applying wax, no matter what method you are using, regulate the
temperature so that it penetrates the fabric; not so cool that it just turns yellowish and sits on
top, and not so hot that all your lines spread out too much. The wax should have a clear
appearance, indicating it has penetrated to the other side. Flip fabric over and apply wax
anywhere it has not. Thin layers of very hot wax will often allow some dye to stain the fabric
under the wax, whereas a thicker buildup will keep the wax off.
Step 6: Tub Dye the fabric, first using the lightest or brightest color that will be on the piece
and will mix well with successive colors, for example yellow; then the next dye bath could be
turquoise, which would actually mix with the yellow to dye the fabric green in all the un-
waxed areas. Remember, after Soda Ash has been added to the dyebath, don't leave your
waxed fabric in for more than 30 minutes more, as soda ash eats away the wax eventually,
exposing areas to unwanted dye.

Step 7: Rinse and gently hand wash the fabric in Synthrapol and allow to dry. Use lukewarm
water so as not to melt your wax!
Step 8: Repeat steps 2-6 above for each color you plan for your batik, waxing areas after
each dyebath that you want to remain that most recent color, and re-waxing any areas that
look eroded from the Soda Ash. Tub dye your darkest areas last.
Step 9: Remove the Wax using one of these methods:
Boil the wax out. Choose a pot to become your official wax pot that will comfortably hold
your fabric and fill with water and a dash of Synthrapol, or other liquid detergent, to get the
wax and any excess dye away from the fabric. Bring this to a simmer and add fabric. Stir the
fabric around in the boiling water keeping it submerged. After a few minutes the wax will
melt out of the fabric and float to the top. When the wax seems completely removed from the
fabric, remove from heat and allow the water to cool. Be sure that the fabric sits on the
bottom of the pan, avoiding the floating wax residue. You can weigh it down with rocks or
something heavy. Allow to cool, then peel the hardened wax off the surface and remove the

Pro-Tip:You can reuse this wax for your next project as long as the water has dried out of it.
Iron the wax out. Sandwich your fabric between layers of absorbent paper and iron, to melt
the wax out. This process often leaves a wax residue that looks like a grease spot and won't
come out, so it is not our favorite.
Step 10: Wash your fabric one last time in the washing machine with Synthrapol to remove
any left over dye you couldn't get out by hand. Dry your fabric.

Now you can get to sewing, quilting, wrapping or just hang it up because it looks so good you
can't bare to cut it up!

**Note: BE CAREFUL! If you heat the wax over 240F, it can give off toxic smoke or burst
into flames! Work with hot wax in a well ventilated area (it gives off fumes) and never leave
hot wax unattended! In case of flaming emergency, DO NOT douse flaming wax with water!
You can douse the flames with baking soda or a fire extinguisher. However, if you use the
appliances recommended above, and exercise prudence and care, you should be able to
control the temperature of the wax safely. We NEVER recommend using pots directly on the
stove! Some folks are trying out our new Soy wax, which melts at a much lower temperature
than the other waxes, reducing the chances of overheating. It is not as sturdy as the other
waxes, especially on exposure to the soda ash, but folks are carefully working with its
limitations because it is a renewable resource and totally non-toxic, including the fumes.

Minat Terkait