What is batik?

The word batik is thought to derive from the Indonesian word "tik" which means dots-- denoting a certain method of applying colored patterns or designs to finished fabrics.
Picture credit: Dr George Henry

The process of making batik.

The process of batik is simple but tedious. Finely woven cotton and occasionally silk are used to make traditional batik. There were two parallel traditions in batik, one for the royalty and one for the common people.
The first step is to apply the hot wax. There are several methods of waxing. The most popular methods are canting method and cap method


After the initial waxing, the cloth thus prepared is then dyed in indigo vat and dried in the sun on long sticks. The oldest and first dye to be applied in classical Indonesian batik was blue made from the leaves of the indigo plant. Indigo dyeing was usually done by men.
The cloth is first pulled through a chemical agent which helps the dye to bond to the cloth. It is left to drip and is then pulled through the dye.

Batik Creating an Identity -- Lee Chor Lin.

Chemical dyes produce more predictable results and offer better resistance to sunlight and frequent washing. After the colors are obtained, the fabrics is rinsed thoroughly and it is then transferred to boiling water. The finished products are brilliant in both design and color. Producing a high quality batik may take anywhere from five weeks to over a year.


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