Batik, The standard Fabric Of Indonesia

It can be unimaginable to visit or stay in Indonesia and never be exposed to one of the nation’s most highly developed art varieties, batik. On your first go to to a batik store or manufacturing unit you will undoubtedly experience an overwhelming stimulation of the senses – as a consequence of the numerous colors, patterns and the precise scent of batik. Only by way of repeated visits and a bit of research will the types of designs and their origins turn out to be obvious.

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The phrase batik is thought to be derived from the phrase ‘ambatik’ which translated means ‘a cloth with little dots’. The suffix ‘tik’ means little dot, drop, level or to make dots. Batik can also originate from the Javanese phrase ‘tritik’ which describes a resist process for dying the place the patterns are reserved on the textiles by tying and sewing areas previous to dying, just like tie dye strategies. One other Javanese section for the mystical experience of making batik is _mbatik manah_ which suggests _drawing a batik design on the heart_.

A brief History

Although specialists disagree as to the precise origins of batik, samples of dye resistance patterns on cloth may be traced again 1,500 years in the past to Egypt and the Center East. Samples have also been found in Turkey, India, China, Japan and West Africa from past centuries. Though in these nations individuals had been utilizing the strategy of dye resisting decoration, throughout the textile realm, none have developed batik to its current day artwork type as the highly developed intricate batik found on the island of Java in Indonesia.

Though there is mention of ‘fabrics highly decorated’ in Dutch transcripts from the 17th century, most scholars consider that the intricate Javanese batik designs would solely have been doable after the importation of finely woven imported cloth, which was first imported to Indonesia from India across the 1800s and afterwards from Europe beginning in 1815. Textile patterns will be seen on stone statues which are carved on the partitions of historic Javanese temples akin to Prambanan (Ad 800), however there isn’t a conclusive evidence that the cloth is batik. It may presumably be a pattern that was produced with weaving techniques and never dying. What is evident is that within the 19th century batik turned highly developed and was properly ingrained in Javanese cultural life.

Some experts feel that batik was originally reserved as an artwork form for Javanese royalty. Definitely it is royal nature was clear as certain patterns were reserved to be worn solely by royalty from the Sultan’s palace. Princesses and noble girls may have provided the inspiration for the highly refined design sense evident in traditional patterns. It is very unlikely although that they could be involved in any more than the first wax software. Almost definitely, the messy work of dyeing and subsequent waxings was left to court docket artisans who would work under their supervision.

Javanese royalty were known to be nice patrons of the arts and supplied the help essential to develop many art forms, such as silver ornamentation, wayang kulit (leather puppets) and gamelan orchestras. In some instances the artwork types overlap. The Javanese dalang (puppeteer) not only was chargeable for the wayang puppets but was also an essential source of batik patterns. Wayang puppets are normally product of goat skin, which is then perforated and painted to create the illusion of clothing on the puppet. Used puppets had been often bought to eager ladies who used the puppets as guides for his or her batik patterns. They might blow charcoal by way of the holes that define the patterns of clothing on the puppets, in order to repeat the intricate designs onto the cloth.

Different students disagree that batik was only reserved as an art type for royalty, as additionally they feel its use was prevalent with the rakyat, the people. It was regarded an vital a part of a young ladies accomplishment that she be able to handling a canting (the pen-like instrument used to use wax to the cloth) with an affordable quantity of ability, actually as important as cookery and other housewifery arts to Central Javanese girls.

Selection and Preparation of the Cloth for Batik

Natural supplies comparable to cotton or silk are used for the cloth, in order that it could possibly absorb the wax that is applied in the dye resisting process. The fabrics must be of a high thread depend (densely woven). It is crucial that cloth of top quality have this excessive thread rely so that the intricate design qualities of batik will be maintained.

The cloth that’s used for batik is washed and boiled in water many instances prior to the appliance of wax so that every one traces of starches, lime, chalk and other sizing supplies are eliminated. Prior to the implementation of modern-day methods, the cloth would have been pounded with a wood mallet or ironed to make it easy and supple so it could greatest receive the wax design. With the finer machine-made cotton accessible as we speak, the pounding or ironing processes could be omitted. Normally males did this step in the batik course of.

Strict industry requirements differentiate the different qualities of the cloth used today, which include Primissima (the very best) and Prima. The cloth high quality is often written on the sting of the design. A lesser high quality cloth which is commonly utilized in Blaco.

Batik Design Tools

Though the artwork type of batik is very intricate, the tools which might be used are still very simple. The canting, believed to be a purely Javanese invention, is a small thin wall spouted copper container (typically known as a wax pen) that’s connected to a brief bamboo handle. Normally it is approximately eleven cm. in size. The copper container is crammed with melted wax and the artisan then makes use of the canting to attract the design on the cloth.

Canting have different sizes of spouts (numbered to correspond to the dimensions) to realize varied design results. The spout can range from 1 mm in diameter for very high quality detailed work to wider spouts used to fill in massive design areas. Dots and parallel lines could also be drawn with canting that have up to 9 spouts. Sometimes a wad of cotton is fastened over the mouth of the canting or attached to a stick that acts as a brush to fill in very large areas.

For close-up pictures of canting.


The wajan is the container that holds the melted wax. It appears to be like like a small wok. Normally it’s manufactured from iron or earthenware. The wajan is positioned on a small brick charcoal stove or a spirit burner known as an ‘anglo’. The wax is kept in a melted state whereas the artisan is applying the wax to the cloth.


Totally different varieties and qualities of wax are used in batik. Common waxes used for batik consist of a mixture of beeswax, used for its malleability, and paraffin, used for its friability. Resins will be added to extend adhesiveness and animal fats create larger liquidity.

The very best waxes are from the Indonesian islands of Timor, Sumbawa and Sumatra; three types of petroleum-primarily based paraffin (white, yellow and black) are used. The amounts mixed are measured in grams and differ in response to the design. Wax recipes will be very carefully guarded secrets and techniques. Various colours of wax make it possible to disguise different elements of the pattern via the assorted dying stages. Bigger areas of the pattern are crammed in with wax that is cheaper quality and the upper quality wax is used on the more intricately detailed sections of the design.

The wax have to be saved at the correct temperature. A wax that is too cool will clog the spout of the canting. A wax that is simply too sizzling will flow too quickly and be uncontrollable. The artisan will typically blow into the spout of the canting before applying wax to the cloth in an effort to clear the canting of any obstructions.


Creating batik is a very time consuming craft. To satisfy rising calls for and make the fabric extra inexpensive to the plenty, within the mid-19th century the . cap. (copper stamp – pronounced chop) was developed. This invention enabled a higher quantity of batik manufacturing in comparison with the normal method which entailed the tedious utility of wax by hand with a canting.

Every cap is a copper block that makes up a design unit. Cap are manufactured from 1.5 cm huge copper stripes which might be bent into the form of the design. Smaller items of wire are used for the dots. When complete, the sample of copper strips is connected to the handle.

The cap should be exactly made. That is very true if the sample is to be stamped on each sides of the fabric. It is imperative that both sides of the cap are equivalent in order that sample might be constant.

Generally cap are welded between two grids like pieces of copper that can make a base for the top and the underside. The block is lower in half at the middle so the pattern on every half is an identical. Cap fluctuate in size and form relying on the sample they’re needed for. It is seldom that a cap will exceed 24 cm in diameter, as this is able to make the handling too tough.

Males usually handle the applying of wax using cap. A chunk of cloth that entails a sophisticated design might require as many as ten units of cap. The utilization of cap, versus canting, to use the wax has lowered the period of time to make a cloth.

Immediately, batik quality is outlined by cap or tulis, the second that means hand-drawn designs which use a canting, or kombinasi, a combination of the two techniques.


Traditional colors for Central Javanese batik were made from natural elements and consisted primarily of beige, blue, brown and black.

The oldest color that was utilized in conventional batik making was blue. The coloration was made from the leaves of the Indigo plant. The leaves have been blended with molasses sugar and lime and left to stand in a single day. Generally sap from the Tinggi tree was added to act as a fixing agent. Lighter blue was achieved by leaving the cloth in the dye bath for brief durations of time. For darker colors, the cloth could be left in the dye bath for days and will have been submerged up to 8 – 10 occasions a day.

In traditional batik, the second shade utilized was a brown color known as soga. The coloration could range from light yellow to a darkish brown. The dye got here from the bark of the Soga tree. Another shade that was traditionally used was a darkish purple color known as mengkuda. This dye was created from the leaves of the Morinda Citrifolia.

The ultimate hue depended on how long the cloth was soaked within the dye bath and the way usually it was dipped. Skilled artisans can create many variations of these conventional colours. Except for blue, inexperienced would be achieved by mixing blue with yellow; purple was obtained by mixing blue and red. The soga brown coloration mixed with indigo would produce a dark blue-black color.

Design Process

The define of the pattern is blocked out onto the cloth, traditionally with charcoal or graphite. Traditional batik designs make the most of patterns handed down over the generations. It is rather seldom that an artisan is so expert that he can work from reminiscence and would not want to draw an outline of the pattern earlier than making use of the wax. Often designs are traced from stencils or patterns referred to as pola. Another technique of tracing a pattern onto a cloth is by laying the cloth on a glass table that is illuminated from below which casts a shadow of the sample onto the cloth. The shadow is then traced with a pencil. In large batik factories right this moment, males normally are in charge of drawing the patterns onto the cloth. Click here to see the step-by-step course of of constructing batik.


As soon as the design is drawn out onto the cloth it is then ready to be waxed. Wax is utilized to the cloth over the areas of the design that the artisan wishes to stay the original colour of the cloth. Usually this is white or cream.

Female staff sit on a low stool or on a mat to apply the wax with a canting. The fabric that they’re engaged on is draped over mild bamboo frames called gawangan to permit the freshly utilized wax to cool and harden. The wax is heated within the wajan until it is of the desired consistency. The artisan then dips her canting into the wax to fill the bowl of the canting.

Artisans use the wax to retrace the pencil outline on the fabric. A small drop cloth is kept on the lady. s lap to protect her from hot dripping wax. The stem of the canting is held with the right hand in a horizontal place to forestall any accidental spillage, which drastically reduces the value of the ultimate cloth. The left hand is positioned behind the fabric for assist. The spout doesn’t contact the fabric, but it surely held simply above the realm the artisan is working on. To make sure the sample is well outlined, batik is waxed on each sides. True tulis batik is reversible, because the pattern should be an identical on each sides.

Probably the most skilled artisans usually do first waxings. Filling in of massive areas could also be entrusted to less skilled artisans. Errors are very tough to correct. If wax is unintentionally spilt on the cloth, the artisan will try to remove the undesirable wax by sponging it with hot water. Then a heated iron rod with a curved finish is used to try to carry off the remaining wax. Spilled wax can never be completely eliminated so it’s crucial that the artisans are very cautious.

If the cap methodology is utilized, this process is normally completed by males. The cap are dipped into melted wax. Just below the floor of the melted wax is a folded cloth roughly 30 centimeters square. When this cloth is saturated with wax it acts like a stamp pad. The cap is pressed into the fabric till the design side of the cap is coated with wax. The saturated cap is then stamped onto the fabric, leaving the design of the cap. This process is repeated till all the cloth is lined. Often cap and canting methods are mixed on the same piece of cloth.

Higher high quality batik could also be waxed utilizing canting in one a part of Indonesia after which despatched to a different part of Indonesia the place the cap a part of the method is completed. On better high quality cap fabric nice care is taken to match the sample exactly. Decrease grade batik is characterized by overlapping lines or lightened colored strains indicating the cap was not utilized accurately.


After the preliminary wax has been applied, the fabric is prepared for the first dye bath. Historically dying was done in earthenware tubs. Immediately most batik factories use massive concrete vats. Above the vats are ropes with pulleys that the fabric is draped over after it has been dipped into the dye bath.

The waxed fabric is immersed in the dye bath of the first shade. The amount of time it is left within the bath determines the hue of the coloration; darker colours require longer durations or numerous immersions. The fabric is then put into a cold water bath to harden the wax.

When the specified coloration has been achieved and the fabric has dried, wax is reapplied over the areas that the artisan wishes to keep up the first dye color or one other color at a later stage in the dying process.

When an space that has been coated with wax beforehand must be uncovered so that it may be dyed, the utilized wax is scraped away with a small knife. The world is then sponged with sizzling water and resized with rice starch before it’s re-immersed in the following dye bath.

If a marble impact is desired, the wax is deliberately cracked earlier than being positioned in the dye bath. The dye seeps into the tiny cracks that create the fine lines that are characteristic of batik. Traditionally, cracks were an indication of inferior cloth especially on indigo color batik. On brown batik, nevertheless, the marble effect was accepted.

The number of colours in batik represents how many instances it was immersed in the dye bath and what number of times wax needed to be applied and eliminated. A multicolored batik represents much more work that a single or two-colour piece. Numerous dye processes are usually mirrored in the value of the cloth. Nowadays, chemical dyes have just about changed conventional dyes, so colors are countless and far more liberally used.

Particular Remedies to the Batik Cloth

Prada or Gold Cloth

For special events, batik was formerly decorated with gold lead or gold mud. This cloth is known as Prada cloth. Gold leaf was used in the Jogjakarta and Surakarta area. The Central Javanese used gold mud to decorate their Prada cloth. It was utilized to the fabric utilizing a handmade glue consisting of egg white or linseed oil and yellow earth. The gold would stay on the cloth even after it had been washed. The gold could follow the design of the cloth or may take by itself design. Older batiks might be given a brand new look by making use of gold to them. Gold decorated cloth continues to be made right this moment; nevertheless, gold paint has changed gold dust and leaf.

Batik Designs

Although there are thousands of different batik designs, particular designs have historically been associated with traditional festivals and particular religious ceremonies. Previously, it was thought that sure cloth had mystical powers to ward off unwell fortune, while different pieces could convey good luck.

Sure batik designs are reserved for brides and bridegrooms as well as their families. Different designs are reserved for the Sultan and his household or their attendants. An individual’s rank may very well be decided by the sample of the batik he/she wore.

Generally, there are two classes of batik design: geometric motifs (which are typically the sooner designs) and free form designs, that are based mostly on stylized patterns of pure kinds or imitations of a woven texture. Nitik is the most well-known design illustrating this effect.

Sure areas are identified for a predominance of certain designs. Central Javanese designs are influenced by traditional patterns and colours. Batik from the north coast of Java, near Pekalongan and Cirebon, have been vastly influenced by Chinese language culture and impact brighter colors and extra intricate flower and cloud designs.

Excessive style designs drawn on silk are extremely popular with wealthy Indonesians. These exceptionally excessive-high quality pieces can take months to create and costs a whole bunch of dollars.


Kawung is another very outdated design consisting of intersecting circles, recognized in Java since at least the thirteenth century. This design has appeared carved into the partitions of many temples throughout Java equivalent to Prambanan near Jogjakarta and Kediri in East Java. For a few years, this sample was reserved for the royal court docket of the Sultan of Jogjakarta. The circles are generally embellished inside with two or more small crosses or other ornaments corresponding to intersecting traces or dots. It has been suggested that the ovals would possibly characterize flora such as the fruit of the kapok (silk cotton) tree or the aren (sugar palm).


Ceplok is a normal name for a complete series of geometric designs primarily based on squares, rhombs, circles, stars, and so on. Though basically geometric, ceplok can also represent abstractions and stylization of flowers, buds, seeds and even animals. Variations in colour intensity can create illusions of depth and the overall effect shouldn’t be unlike medallion patterns seen on Turkish tribal rugs. The Indonesian population is largely Muslim, a religion that forbids the portrayal of animal and human forms in a practical manner. To get around this prohibition, the batik worker does not try to precise this matter in a practical form. A single ingredient of the kind is chosen after which that aspect is repeated repeatedly within the pattern.


Parang was once used completely by the royal courts of Central Java. It has several advised meanings comparable to ‘rugged rock’, ‘knife pattern’ or ‘damaged blade’. The Parang design consists of slanting rows of thick knife-like segments working in parallel diagonal bands. Parang normally alternated with narrower bands in a darker contrasting coloration. These darker bands include one other design aspect, a line of lozenge-shaped motifs call mlinjon. There are lots of variations of this fundamental striped pattern with its elegant sweeping traces, with over forty parang designs recorded. The most famous is the ‘Parang Rusak’ which in its most classical form consisting of rows of softly folded parang. This motif also appears in media apart from batik, including woodcarving and as ornamentation on gamelan musical devices.

Washing Batik

Harsh chemical detergents, dryers and drying of fabrics within the sun may fade the colors in batik. Historically dyed batiks needs to be washed in cleaning soap for delicate fabrics, equivalent to Woolite, Silky or Halus. Advantageous batik in Indonesia is washed with the lerak fruit which could be purchased at most conventional markets. A bottled version of this detergent is also obtainable at batik stores. You should definitely line dry batik in a shady area and not in direct sunlight.

Trendy Batik

Fashionable batik, though having strong ties to conventional batik, utilizes linear therapy of leaves, flowers and birds. These batiks are typically extra dependent on the dictates of the designer reasonably than the stiff guidelines that have guided traditional craftsmen. This can be obvious in the usage of shade that modern designers use. Artisans are no longer dependent on conventional (natural) dyes, as chemical dyes can produce any coloration that they wish to achieve. Trendy batik nonetheless utilizes canting and cap to create intricate designs.

Fashion designers such as Iwan Tirta have aggressively introduced batik into the world style scene. They have done much to promote the Indonesian art of batik gown, in its traditional and trendy types.

The horizon of batik is constant to widen. While the design course of has remained mainly the identical over the past century, the method shows great progress in current many years. Historically, batik was bought in 2 1/4 meter lengths used for kain panjang or sarong in conventional dress. Now, not solely is batik used as a cloth to clothe the human physique, its makes use of additionally include furnishing fabrics, heavy canvas wall hangings, tablecloths and family equipment. Batik methods are utilized by well-known artists to create batik paintings which grace many homes and offices.

Nice high quality handmade batik is very costly and the production of such works could be very limited. Nevertheless, in a world that is dominated by machines there is an growing interest in supplies which were handmade. Batik is one of those supplies.

During your stay in Indonesia, benefit from your time here to be taught extra in regards to the fascinating world of batik. Have a batik costume or males’s business shirt made for you by a seamstress or tailor. Visit batik factories in Jogjakarta, Surakarta or Pekalongan to see for yourself how the intricate course of is conducted or ask questions of batik artisans giving demonstrations in stores similar to Sarinah or Pasaraya in Jakarta. You’ll come away with sense of marvel over the time, effort and persistence put into the creation of each batik cloth. You too could soon grow to love the distinctive waxy scent of batik and your batik acquisitions will present many memories of your stay in Indonesia. Your assist of the batik business may also ensure that this art kind grows to even greater peaks.

Batik Dwelling Furnishings

One of the distinct pleasures of living in (or visiting) Indonesia is the chance to buy some actually magnificent home furnishings made from batik. As the fabric is really unique to Indonesia, this is certainly the perfect place to purchase genuine batik! Batik factories can product batik to your order, with custom colors and designs in large rolls, ready to use for your private home decoration tasks. The a hundred% cotton fabric is normally preshrunk in the batik dying process and other fabrics are often accessible with the batik design, ought to your design necessities warrant. Increased finish outlets also have design consultants who can assist you to with the format of the room you’re planning to design with your batik fabric and work with you on extra furnishings (pillows, bed covers, and cushions) to complete your color scheme.

In case you are unable to visit Indonesia, however are still concerned about batik fabric, the very best place to start is by searching for batik prints in major fabric shops, or store online for batik fabric. With the attractive batik designs accessible, you will be on your way to creating your personal batik creations for your home. The timeless designs of beautiful batik motifs have been utilized by expert fabric designers all over the world who want to share the great thing about batik with an even wider audience throughout the globe. You’ll quickly be getting compliments from visitors to your property about the gorgeous residence furnishings fabricated from batik, or your new wardrobe pieces!

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