Batik is a traditional great art craft from Indonesia. It is not clear precisely which peoples discovered that portions of a material could be impregnated with wax to create intricate dye patterns. But in South-East Asia especially in Indonesia, batik was elevated to a genuine art form, through the most notably on the island of Bali and above all Java, which is renowned for producing the most beautiful, finely crafted batiks in the world. The United Nations has decided to recognize Indonesian batik as one of the world’s important cultural traditions.
The batik process produces a design on textiles through the use of a dye-resist, usually wax, which prevents the dye from penetrating the covered areas of the fabric, thus creating a pattern in negative. Batik is usually done on good-quality cotton fabric, although silk can be used.
Hand-drawn batik whose technique in making motif is painting manually with the touch of very high art and the color restraint (wax) is applied on the cloth by way similar to writing (using “canting”). The canting is dipped into a pot of hot wax and then allowed to flow through the spout on to the fabric. The fabric is hung over the frame . On thicker fabrics the waxing is carried out on both sides. This process is carried out by the women. The motifs of traditional court batik have symbolic meanings. Some designs are restricted: larger motifs can only be worn by royalty; and certain motifs are not suitable for women, or for specific occasions. In general, the process of hand-drawn batik is very slow and time consuming. Fine quality handmade batik is very expensive and the production of such works is very limited.
The other way to making batik is “cap batik”. “Cap batik” is a stamp for making batik, these cap are made from hundreds of pieces copper arranged to create a picture or pattern. Sometimes cap are welded between two grids like pieces of copper that will make a base for the top and the applying wax with cap bottom. The block is cut in half at the center so the pattern on each half is identical. Cap vary in size and shape depending on the pattern they are needed for. It is seldom that a cap will exceed 24 cm in diameter, as this would make the handling too difficult. The cap are a work of art in themselves. The stamps 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.
Combines both techniques on one cloth. First the main design is waxed with a cap, then the batiker adds details with the canting. Combines Batik is priced in the mid-range.
Batik is a craft that has high artistic value and has become part of the culture of Indonesia (especially Java) since long. Javanese women in the past made their skills in batik for a living, so in the past, batik work is exclusively women’s work and it’s not something special, it’s just what you wear everyday. Now men and women often wear traditional batik for special occasions only.