Batik is should I say a very artful craft which exercises your creativity to its limit as well as teaches you to rightly restrain.
Batik originated it seems in the Far East,Middle East,Central Asia and India maybe 2000 years ago.The exact place of its origin is still a mystery but evidence in the form of silk cloth ascribed with depictions typical to these dynasties shows that Batik was practised in China during the Sui dynasty as well as in Japan during the Nara dynasty.In India, the wall frescoes in the Ajanta caves shows head gears and garments which resemble a Batik design.The same applies to the temple ruins of Java and Bali in Indonesia where figures have been found wearing garments sporting a Batik design.In Egypt,the mummies were wrapped in indigo blue cloth with white patterns on it which is very suggestive of Batik designs!
Although this craft was prevalent in many places,it reached its peak and got the most recognition because of the island of Java in Indonesia where it was practised widely and brilliantly too!
The word Batik originated from the Javanese word ‘Ambatik’ which means a dotted cloth.
It is a very painstaking and an elaborate craft.To make a Batik,usually a silk or a cotton cloth is used which is either white or beige in colour. The length of the procedure depends on the numbers of colours to be incorporated in the design;the more the colours the more lengthy the procedure.
Procedure to get a tricoloured batik cloth :
Firstly, designs are pencilled onto the cloth and the molten wax (usually beeswax) is applied over the pattern completely with an instrument called Tjantings. Secondly,the cloth is the dyed in its first dye bath of a chosen colour. The cloth gets dyed in that colour except in the places where it has been waxed. Thirdly, the cloth gets waxed again with a lower quality molten wax on the dyed part in the pencilled design. Fourthly ,it gets dyed again in its second dye bath. The areas covered by the first wax application remain white and the ares covered by the second wax application remain the colour of the first dye bath. Fifthly,the wax is removed from the cloth by immersing it in hot water or or it is scrapped off by applying slight heat to the cloth. In the sixth step,the cloth is again waxed by the artist on the areas which he wants to remain white and then it is immersed in its third dye bath to get the final colour in places required.Lastly, the wax is scrapped off to give you a incredibly beautiful designed piece of art-The Batik cloth!
Here below is a link to the making of this beautiful art which has been uploaded by UNESCO:
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UNESCO: Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity – 2009
Description: The techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik. Clothes with everyday designs are worn regularly in business and academic settings, while special varieties are incorporated into celebrations of marriage and pregnancy and into puppet theatre and other art forms. The garments even play the central role in certain rituals, such as the ceremonial casting of royal batik into a volcano. Batik is dyed by proud craftspeople who draw designs on fabric using dots and lines of hot wax, which resists vegetable and other 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. The wide diversity of patterns reflects a variety of influences, ranging from Arabic calligraphy, European bouquets and Chinese phoenixes to Japanese cherry blossoms and Indian or Persian peacocks. Often handed down within families for generations, the craft of batik is intertwined with the cultural identity of the Indonesian people and, through the symbolic meanings of its colours and designs, expresses their creativity and spirituality.
© 2007 by KADIN Indonesia Foundation and Indonesia Batik Museum Institute
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. Nowadays,in Indonesia too the designs on the cloth are done on a big scale using big design blocks.Computerisation of batik techniques is a very recent development.
The essence of this craft is first and fore most is due to its ‘hand-madeness’ which should be respected,treasured and preserved.We can as always do our little bit by encouraging and supporting it by buying hand-made batik cloth.
LONG LIVE INCREDIBLE HANDS!