In the beginning, there was a dot …
My friend, who came to visit me about a week ago, was adamant about buying ‘batik‘ in Indonesia instead of in Malaysia or Singapore. I always assumed batik was a special type of cloth printed with intricate tribal-inspired designs. It therefor surprised me to be presented with ‘batik bali‘ by a shop owner which was basically just a cheerful yellow number with black polka dots.
“Oh, she’s probably pulling my ‘bule‘ leg” – I thought. But I went home confused and thinking “now there’s something I should blog about” 🙂
And so with the help of the internet, here are 10 things I found out about Batik – but you might want to view this video I found for you first:
- It is a technique of wax-resist dying applied to whole cloth or cloth made using this technique.
- To make batik, selected areas of the cloth are blocked out by brushing or drawing hot wax over them, and the cloth is then dyed. The parts covered in wax resist the dye and remain the original colour. This process of waxing and dyeing can be repeated to create more elaborate and colourful designs.
- Batik is found in many other Asian countries but the Indonesian batik is the best known. (my friend did her homework!)
- Indonesian batik made in Java is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique and the quality of workmanship.
- UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2009.
- The word batik originates from the Javanese word “tik” which means “little dots” or “to dot”, and the word “ambatik” which means a cloth with little dots.
- It’s believed by some experts that batik might have originally been reserved for Javanese royalty since certain patterns were reserved to be worn only by royalty from the Sultan’s palace.
- Batik cloth must be of natural materials like cotton or silk so that it can absorb the wax. The cloth must also be of high thread count to maintain batik’s intricate design qualities.
- Major batik designs are the “kawung” which consists of intersecting circles, “ceplok” consisting of geometric designs, and “parang” consisting of slanting rows of knife-like segments running in parallel diagonal bands.
- The evolution of Indonesian batik has been influenced by exposure to foreign cultures. Batik Indonesia, also known as Batik Modern, is made of bright colors and was influenced by Indonesia’s freedom from Dutch colonial rule.
So I was right about it being of “intricate” design. I best go back to that shop owner and haggle now that I am armed with new knowledge 😉 Oh but wait, I’m not really into polka dots XD XD