Due to its technique, culture, art value and national heritage for centuries,
Batik was designated as a Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage of Indonesia by UNESCO in October 2009.
The word Batik is originally from Javanese language “mbatik”.
“Mba” means to do and “tik” means a dot. Batik is an art mostly created on a a piece of cloth.
Batik is originally from the island of Java, Indonesia. The Javanese people have created and worn Batik as their daily attire for centuries. Batik has many patterns and colors, representing certain parts of Java, where every region has its unique Batik characteristic, according to their culture, lifestyle and history. Patterns and colors also symbolize social status and some can only be worn for specific ceremonies.
There are three techniques in creating Batik. Batik Tulis or hand drawn Batik, Batik Cap or hand-stamped Batik and Batik Kombinasi, collaboration of both techniques. Batik Tulis are the most unique and expensive ones, due to the meticulous works and lengthy process the artists have to create. For Batik Cap, the artists use copper stamps, which had been crafted into Batik designs. For Batik Kombinasi, the artists collaborate both Tulis and Cap technique by using the copper blocks to make larger patterns and the canting to draw small details.
- A cloth is washed, soaked and beaten with a large mallet and hand dry under the sun.
- Patterns are drawn with pencil on the dry cloth.
- The patterns are trace using hot wax, usually made from a mixture of paraffin or bees wax, 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. Canting 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 maybe used. For hand-stamped Batik, a cooper block with batik patterns is used.
- The cloth is dipped into boiling water to remove the wax.
- The areas treated with resist keep their original color; when the resist is removed the contrast between the dyed and undyed areas forms the pattern.
- This process is repeated as many times as the number of colors desired. Most traditional and premium batik tulis or hand-drawn Batik, the artist creates the painting on both sides. The whole process may take up to a year, depending on the patterns and number of colors.
Nowadays, Batik has become more and more popular locally and internationally. It is not only for fashions, but also for home decors, toys, bags, accessories, and many others. Besides cotton, artists have now created Batik on silk, rayon, chiffons, pineapple fibers, etc. Some have developed the art of Batik on a piece of wood, creating homewares and decors.
Batik Warna Alam has also gained popularity, despite the higher price. Warna means color, alam means nature. Batik warna alam is Naturally Hand dyed Batik. The techniques and process of creating the designs are exactly the same. Only the dyeing processes is different. The natural ingredients used to create colors are made from plants, such as Indigofera for blue, cocos nuclear for beige to light brown, camelia sinensis, for brown, curcuma for yellow and allium ascalonicium for reddish orange. However, this natural dyeing process can only be applied on a natural material, such as cotton, wool and silk.
What’s Ikat? What’s the difference between Ikat and Batik?
Ikat is an Indonesian language word, which depending on context, can be the nouns: cord, thread, knot and the finished ikat fabric as well as the verbs “to tie” or “to bind”. It has a direct etymological relation to Javanese language of the same word. Thus, the name of the finished ikat woven fabric originates from the tali (threads, ropes) being ikat (tied, bound, knotted) before they are being put in celupan (dyed by way of dipping), then berjalin (woven, intertwined) resulting in a berjalin ikat- reduced to ikat. It is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric.
In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered to create a new pattern and the yarns dyed again with another colour. This process may be repeated multiple times to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns.
When the dyeing is finished all the bindings are removed and the yarns are woven into cloth. In other resist-dyeing techniques such as tie-dye and batik the resist is applied to the woven cloth, whereas in ikat the resist is applied to the yarns before they are woven into cloth. Because the surface design is created in the yarns rather than on the finished cloth, in ikat both fabric faces are patterned.
A characteristic of ikat textiles is an apparent “blurriness” to the design. The blurriness is a result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth. The blurriness can be reduced by using finer yarns or by the skill of the craftsperson. Ikats with little blurriness, multiple colours and complicated patterns are more difficult to create and therefore often more expensive. However, the blurriness that is so characteristic of ikat is often prized by textile collectors.