BATIK - INTERESTING INTRODUCTION
Fall has fallen, and winter is on its way, yet
another season seems to be prominent due to batik springing up
everywhere! This ancient printing craft originated in Java, and has been
practiced there for centuries. Batik is generally observed as an
indigenous Indonesian (Java) textile, although influences from all corners of
the world have enriched its inherently beautiful design. Fashions and
furnishings are utilizing batik prints in increasing numbers, causing their
industries to acknowledge the beauty and artistry of this brilliant 2,000
are generally composed of flower motifs, twinning plants, leaves and buds,
birds, butterflies, fish, geometric forms and patterns, small animals and
insects. The innovations in batik patterns are endless, as there are
nearly 3,000 varieties on record. The word “batik” is in Indonesian in
origin, and occurs as “ambatik” in Javanese; it means “drawing” and
“writing.” These two words describe what it means to print batik: to draw
patterns and designs free hand with hot wax, followed by painting between the
waxed sections. Then the fabric is re-waxed, cloth dyed, and boiled.
the batik technique can be done in a factory for mass production, or in smaller
quantities per yard; this is done by hand, which is the traditional way to
batik print. The factory method was put in place c.1850 in order to
compete with a burgeoning European fashion market. This method uses a
metal stamp, called a “cap,” to apply the hot wax; the stamp is heated, dipped
in the hot wax, and the surface of the cap is then pressed on to the
cloth. The traditional method, done by hand, utilizes a wooden, pen-like
“canting” filled with the hot, liquid wax that is drawn on to the fabric’s
steps are the same regardless of the beginning method. The newly waxed
cloth must be laid out on a table to be painted. Colors are brushed
between the wax lines to complete the designs. Then the colored areas are
re-waxed in black so the background dyes do not penetrate the new pattern.
cloth is dyed. It is washed in or pulled through a chemical agent that
helps the dye to bond to the cloth. After the excess bonding agent drips
off, the cloth is pulled through the dye to produce the illustrious
color. Lastly, the cloth is boiled. Stirring the cloth in boiling
vats allows the excess wax to be scooped off using perforated ladles.
After the excess wax is removed, the brilliance in design and color are
revealed, and a finished batik print is ready for use.
and upholstery industries are utilizing batik patterns now more than
ever. They’re popping up all over the runways, shopping centers, and
furniture showrooms. The urban fashion industry is embracing the
tradition by manufacturing sarongs, scarves, dresses, jackets, and accessories
for the ready-to-wear market. This facet of the industry focuses on the
West African, Middle Eastern, and Native American batik tradition. These
cultures influenced mainstream batik printing, as well as inventing new styles.
Eastern population often favored the patterns that were based on the patola
designs from India, as well as designs that featured the color green.
Historically, green was a sacred color in the Muslim faith. The
introduction of Islam to this area also affected batik printing in that the
Islamic faith forbade the depiction of life-like pictures; this prompted the
use of stylized patterns without representation of human or animal forms.
They generally printed their batik designs on cotton, voile, or silk, much like
the traditional batik printing is done.
African and Native American batik prints often depict the activities of people
interacting in daily life. The patterns show people grinding corn,
carrying water or firewood, braiding hair, dancing in ceremonies, praying for
rain, or showing caricatures of emotions. Many of their batik patterns
are printed on Kente cloth or mudcloth, cotton, or voile. These cultures
brought the use of new fabrics to the forefront of the batik revolution.
Eastern, West African, and Native American cultures popularized these
traditional patterns through clothing beginning in the late 1960’s. The
upholstery and furnishings industry became familiar with the batik tradition
much earlier, yet prominence did not come until the early 1950’s; its
popularity has yet to decrease.
Several different cultures have influenced
the patterns and designs of this facet of the industry.
contributed to the batik design are most evident in the addition of more flower
and bird motifs, border patterns, and incorporating the use of pinks, yellows,
and blues. Dutch and Eurasian women have favored the use of European
floral bouquets, birds, bees, trees and butterflies in their patterns, a trend
that is one of the most popular in use today. All three cultures
influenced the design and color combinations so heavily, that batik is often
associated with their influential characteristics.
are so common in our society today, that it’s hard to imagine a life without
their beauty. Batik prints are in our art, on our loveseats, and in our
wardrobe. They’re hanging over our bay windows, and adorning our walls
with their elegance. Batik printing, patterns and designs have enriched
many facets of an artistic heritage that encompasses many regions of the world.
that started on a small island 2,000 years ago has evolved into a
world-renowned practice. Fashions and furnishings helped bring the beauty
of this tradition to world wide prominence. Batik apparel was formerly the
clothing of aristocracy; batik is now the art of the world.