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Batik Material: The Traditional Batik Fabric

Updated on September 4, 2019

Color Batik Explosion Colorful Substances Friendly

Color Batik Explosion Colorful Substances Friendly
Color Batik Explosion Colorful Substances Friendly | Source


Traditional batik dye resist technique is synonymous with present Indonesia. It features overwhelming sensory delight with large array of designs and colors. Not to mention the unique smell and brilliant dot shaped patterns.

Top Producers of Batik

Top producers of batik are India, Indonesia, Egypt, and China. Others are Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Senegal.

  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Egypt
  • China
  • Sri Lanka
  • Malaysia
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal

What is batik?

Batik is the creative art of cloths dyeing using hot wax to cover portions in a dye resist method to produces decorative cloths. The method involves freehand drawing or use of stencil to create patterns.

The hot wax is re- traced over the patterns, dye applied then etching to remove wax. The English translation of an Indonesian word tik reference to familiar dot patterns is batik

Brief History

Wax resist dyed textile was discovered in Egypt 4th century BC, Tang Dynasty China 618-907AD. Other geographical locations with similar designs are Wolof in Senegal and Yoruba people of West Africa.

More ancient forms are found in the Nara Period Japan 645-794 AD, 13th century Indonesia. Modern Highly developed techniques are attributed to Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Native traditional Indonesian batik are found in Java, Papua, Halmahera, Flores and Toraja.

Popular Traditional Indonesian Batik

There are many traditional batik distinct to different geographical locations. Popular with tourists we have inland batik, Javanese, Sudanese, Balinese and Sumatran batik.

Batik Indonesia Traditional People Style Material

Batik Indonesia Traditional People Style Material
Batik Indonesia Traditional People Style Material | Source

Choice of medium

It is important to choose the right medium for the process. The dye method is applicable on ceramic, wood, leather and cloth. Best fabric used in traditional methods are wool or cotton.

  • Ceramic
  • Wood
  • wool
  • Leather
  • Silk
  • Cotton

Design Tools


Tools used in the design process are simple and easy to source. Tool include dyes, wax, wajan, cap, canting. Wajan is a small container made from earthenware or iron. It holds the melted wax and placed on a charcoal stove to keep the wax in melted state.


Canting is a small Javanese thin walled spouted copper container attached to a short bamboo handle. The copper container holds the melted wax used to draw the pattern/design. Delicate designs is achieved with different sized spouts. While some canting have different number of spouts.

Copper stamp

Cap or copper stamp are bent copper wire in the desired design. Most are precise wide copper stripes to provide consistency then attached to the handle. Cap varies in size from 1.5cm to 20cm in diameter.

Cap method

A cloth approximately 30 centimeter square is saturated with melted wax. A cap involves dipping in melted wax then pressing on fabric leaving design of cap. The job is a preserve for men who stamp onto the fabric until the cloth is covered.


The wax of choice is the beeswax kept at room temperature. Other additives are petroleum based paraffin, resins, animal fat. Wax is placed on areas of design to retain original color.


Once wax is applied to trace the pattern the cloth is immersed in dye bath. The longer it stays in the bath the darker the color.


Things needed to create the design are the fabric material, hot wax. Others are cotton, plant dyes, beeswax, different dyes, etching tool. Mass produced ones are made with copper block stamps, stiff brush and canting.

  • fabric material
  • hot wax
  • cotton
  • plant dyes
  • beeswax
  • different dyes
  • etching tool
  • copper block stamps
  • stiff brush
  • stencil
  • discharge dyeing
  • wool, cotton, silk
  • canting

How to Make Batik

To produce batik a craftsman or woman first selects the material. Then wash and boils the cloth to remove dirt. The person then uses a large mallet to beat the cloth. Next step is to use a pencil to draw patterns.

Then combine plant resins, paraffin and beeswax to make a dye resist hot wax or simply buy one from the store. Next apply the wax to retrace the patterns. The wax blocks select areas of the cloth when the dye is introduced. It is the placed in cold water to harden the wax.

The covered portion resists the dye while the remaining portion takes the color of the dye. The resist is removed by boiling the cloth and wax is etched off maintaining the original color of the cloth. To create more elaborate designs leave the wax on and repeat the wax and dye process.

Steps – Processing

  1. Prepare the cloth
  2. Use a pencil to draw initial pattern
  3. Apply hot wax to pattern
  4. Dye the cloth
  5. Boil cloth
  6. Scrape the wax.
  7. Dry finished cloth

Traditional Colors

The color choice for traditional batik are basic and simple. Traditional colors favored by craftsmen are red, blue or brown. To achieve Blended effect they repeating dye process for multicolored outcome.

Indonesian-batik and culture

Batik plays a significant role in Indonesian culture and heritage. The cloth has symbolic roles in daily lives of the people. Certain patterns are reserved for royalty, Javanese rituals, and marriage ceremonies. Other cultural significance include garments for bridegroom, bride or family gatherings. The importance of the art is given prominence by the Indonesian government official Batik Day.

  • Reserved for royalty
  • Used in Javanese rituals
  • Common to marriage ceremonies
  • Worn by bridegroom, bride
  • Used in family gatherings
  • Batik Day

Patterns and Motifs

Cultural influence on batik patterns and motifs is found in native Indonesia. Others influences are found Hindu- Buddhist religion, Chinese culture and Madura region of India. European Influence as seen in the colonial era on batik patterns are fairytale, horses.

Indian patterns include images of elephants, jlamprang, peacocks. Chinese influence on patterns is wadasan,lok tjan, cloudy skys, qilin, burung hong. Hindu-Buddhist patterns are semen rama, siddha asih siddha mukti, siddha luhur. Islamic influence include buraq, Arabic calligraphy, besurek. Native Indonesian patterns are lereng, parang, ceplok, banji.


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