Nomadic Journey | The Art of Batik Making August 17, 2015 10:00

 

Batik is a technique of wax-resistant dye applied to whole cloth, or cloth made using this technique. Batik making is an age-old tradition in Indonesia, a tradition that similarly found in other countries such as India and Sri Lanka, is believed to have originated from Java somewhere between the 6th and 7th centuries.

On the 2nd of October, 2009, Indonesian Batik making also has the honor of being one of the few ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’, an honor that was bestowed upon it by UNESCO and makes learning how Indonesian Batik is made even more meaningful.

Batik motifs are created through a complex and intricate process that can take up to 3 months. However, even though it takes approximately 3 months to finish one single batik tulis (hand-written batik) design, the end product is well worth the wait and can be sold anywhere in the world for an exponentially high price. The following are the steps involved in the making of Batik tulis designs:

1. A designer creates the desired pattern on the fabric 

Photo Source : Ahmad Salman/AusAID

2. As dictated by tradition, the fabric is then handed over to a woman who covers the pattern on the fabric with wax. A tjanting (read : canting) is a wooden tool that houses a tiny metal cup on one hand and is the tool that is used to spout warm wax on the fabric. A tjanting is used because it allows the wax to be spewed out in accurately with extreme precision over the pattern, allowing for the desired end result. The process of covering the pattern on the fabric with wax itself tends to take a substantial amount of time and also requires spectacular attention to detail.

Photo source : Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures

3. Once the wax has been allowed to set, the fabric is dyed and then hung dry. 

Photo source : Flickr.com

 

4. The fabric is washed using solvent in order to dissolve the wax and, once the wax has been dissolved, is ironed between papers to completely remove even the slightest trace of wax. This step is what gives the batik fabric the vibrant and rich colors that it is so notoriously popular for. 

Photo source : The Nomadic Trails Collection

 

The process described above repeated up to eight times until perfection is achieved. This process creates the three traditional colors (Indigo, Dark Brown and White) that Batik designs were first introduced in. However, the world has evolved, and so has Batik fabric, the modern version of which now features quite a few additional colors.

Batik motifs carry with them designs that are both mesmerizing and timeless, designs that have been used by talented designers and artisans across the globe. You can check out some of our most beautiful and amazing masterpieces created by these designers and artisans here.