painting is a highly beautiful and an ancient art form. Batik paintings
represent a highly unique form of art involving various figures and patterns
drawn on the pieces of fabrics. These paintings are believed to have originated
in Indonesia wherein the original word referred to the dots on clothes. Batik
represents the wax-resist dye technique, used in textiles. This art is believed
to be more than one thousand years old. Batik art work is widely practised in
regions like Java (Indonesia) and India. India is known for its rich tradition
in Batik paintings and truly exquisite works of Batik art continue to be
procured from different regions of India. From the Javanese origin the word
batik is taken. The word 'ambatik' means to mark with spots or dots. In
a wider sense, it signifies drawing, painting or writing. The word batik is
derived from the Javanese word 'amba' which means write and 'tik'
which means a dot. In October 2009, the UNESCO has acknowledged batik art as a “Masterpiece
of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
experts disagree as to the precise origins of batik, samples of dye resistance
patterns on cloth can be traced back 1,500 years ago to Egypt and the Middle East.
Samples have also been found in Turkey, India, China, Japan and West Africa
from past centuries. Although in these countries people were using the
technique of dye resisting decoration, within the textile realm, none have
developed batik to its present-day art form as the highly developed intricate
batik found on the island of Java in Indonesia.
there is mention of 'fabrics highly decorated' in Dutch transcripts from the
17th century, most scholars believe that the intricate Javanese batik designs
would only have been possible after the importation of finely woven imported
cloth, which was first imported to Indonesia from India around the 1800s and
afterwards from Europe beginning in 1815. Textile patterns can be seen on stone
statues that are carved on the walls of ancient Javanese temples such as
Prambanan (AD 800), however there is no conclusive evidence that the cloth is
batik. It could possibly be a pattern that was produced with weaving techniques
and not dying. What is clear is that in the 19th century batik became highly
developed and was well ingrained in Javanese cultural life.
experts feel that batik was originally reserved as an art form for Javanese
royalty. Certainly, it's royal nature was clear as certain patterns were
reserved to be worn only by royalty from the Sultan's palace. Princesses and
noble women may have provided the inspiration for the highly refined design
sense evident in traditional patterns. It is highly unlikely though that they
would be involved in any more than the first wax application. Most likely, the
messy work of dyeing and subsequent waxing was left to court artisans who would
work under their supervision.
royalty was known to be great patrons of the arts and provided the support
necessary to develop many art forms, such as silver ornamentation, wayang
kulit (leather puppets) and gamelan orchestras. In some cases, the art
forms overlap. The Javanese dalang (puppeteer) not only was responsible
for the wayang puppets but was also Tambil Miring Design an important
source of batik patterns. Wayang puppets are usually made of goat skin,
which is then perforated and painted to create the illusion of clothing on the
puppet. Used puppets were often sold to eager ladies who used the puppets as
guides for their batik patterns. They would blow charcoal through the holes
that define the patterns of clothing on the puppets, in order to copy the
intricate designs onto the cloth.
scholars disagree that batik was only reserved as an art form for royalty, as they
also feel its use was prevalent with the rakyat, the people. It was
regarded an important part of a young lady’s accomplishment that she be capable
of handling a canting (the pen-like instrument used to apply wax to the cloth)
with a reasonable amount of skill, certainly as important as cookery and other
housewifery arts to Central Javanese women.
Batik creation involves 3 basic steps – waxing, dyeing, and scraping
(removing). Overall, the process is one where firstly the wax is used for
creating designs on certain pre-defined areas on the fabric. Secondly the
fabric is dyed and then the wax is removed by scraping or by boiling the cloth
so that the wax peels off. The result is a beautiful piece of cloth with some
very unconventional designs. Traditionally, it is used on Cotton or Silk
materials such as cotton or silk are used for the cloth, so that it can absorb
the wax that is applied in the dye resisting process. The fabrics must be of a
high thread count (densely woven). It is important that cloth of high quality
have this high thread count so that the intricate design qualities of batik can
cloth that is used for batik is washed and boiled in water many times prior to
the application of wax so that all traces of starches, lime, chalk and other
sizing materials are removed. Prior to the implementation of modern-day
techniques, the cloth would have been pounded with a wooden mallet or ironed to
make it smooth and supple so it could best receive the wax design. With the
finer machine-made cotton available today, the pounding or ironing processes
can be omitted. Normally men did this step in the batik process. Strict
industry standards differentiate the different qualities of the cloth used
today, which include Primissima (the best) and Prima. The cloth
quality is often written on the edge of the design. A lesser quality cloth
which is often used in Blaco. For Cotton fabrics, a gentle wash with a regular
detergent is recommended. For silk fabrics, dry cleaning is recommended for its longevity.
from the fabric used and the diversity in designs, there are four different
techniques of making a Batik printed piece of cloth. In the splash method, the
wax is splashed over the fabric in a random fashion and then the dye is poured.
This results in a virtual explosion of random designs and colours. Then there
is a screen-printing process – This method involves the use of a stencil to
etch the designs in an orderly and defined manner. The hand painting method
essentially uses the art of Kalamkari to draw the designs and separate the wax.
A fourth method used is the scratch and starch resist method.
batik, although having strong ties to traditional batik, utilizes linear
treatment of leaves, flowers and birds. These batiks tend to be more dependent
on the dictates of the designer rather than the stiff guidelines that have
guided traditional craftsmen. This is also apparent in the use of colour that
modern designers use. Artisans are no longer dependent on traditional (natural)
dyes, as chemical dyes can produce any colour that they wish to achieve. Modern
batik still utilizes canting and cap to create intricate designs.
horizon of batik is continuing to widen. While the design process has remained
basically the same over the last century, the process shows great progress in
recent decades. Traditionally, batik was sold in around 2.5-meter lengths used
for kain panjang or sarong in traditional dress. Now, not only is
batik used as a material to clothe the human body, its uses also include
furnishing fabrics, heavy canvas wall hangings, tablecloths and household
accessories. Batik techniques are used by artists to create batik paintings
which grace many homes and offices. Fine quality handmade batik is very
expensive and the production of such works is very limited. However, in a
Modern Batik world that is dominated by machines, there is an increasing
interest in materials that have been handmade. Batik is one of these materials.
being an attire to be worn as traditional ceremonies like birth, wedding and
death, Batik prints have come a long way and become icons of chic clothing and
fashion statements around the world. Due to its simplistic designs and delicate
art forms, batik is loved by all. It can be placed over a piece of canvas to
create a masterpiece painting or stitched as curtains, sofa covers or quilts to
lighten up the offices or homes.Batik is historically one of the most
expressive and subtle of all the resist methods. The ever-widening range of
techniques available offers the artist the opportunity to explore a unique
process in a flexible and very exciting way. The process of batik brings
unexpected elements of surprise and delight which is why so many artists find
it so fascinating and quite addictive.
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