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Indonesian batik fabric
Javanese traditional batik, especially from Yogyakarta and Surakarta, has special meanings rooted to the Javanese conceptualization of the universe. Traditional colours include indigo, dark brown, and white which represent the three major Hindu Gods (Brahmā, Visnu, and Śiva). This is related to the fact that natural dyes are only available in indigo and brown. Certain patterns can only be worn by nobility; traditionally, wider stripes or wavy lines of greater width indicated higher rank. Consequently, during Javanese ceremonies, one could determine the royal lineage of a person by the cloth he or she was wearing.
Other regions of Indonesia have their own unique patterns which normally take themes from everyday lives, incorporating patterns such as flowers, nature, animals, folklore or people. The colours of pesisir batik, from the coastal cities of northern Java, is especially vibrant, and it absorbs influence from the Javanese, Arab, Chinese and Dutch culture. In the colonial times pesisir batik was a favorite of the Peranakan Chinese, Dutch and Eurasians..
UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009. As part of the acknowledgment, UNESCO insisted that Indonesia preserve their heritage.
Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are also found in several countries such as Malaysia, Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore. Malaysian batik often displays plants and flowers in basic patterns.
Wax-resist dyed textile from Niya (Tarim Basin),China
Wax resist dyeing technique in fabric is an ancient art form. Discoveries show it already existed in Egypt in the 4th century BCE, where it was used to wrap mummies; linen was soaked in wax, and scratched using a sharp tool. In Asia, the technique was practiced in China during the T'ang dynasty (618-907 CE), and in India and Japan during the Nara period (645-794 CE). In Africa it was originally practiced by the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, Soninke and Wolof in Senegal.
In Java, Indonesia, batik predates written records. GP. Rouffaer argues that the technique might have been introduced during the 6th or 7th century from India or Sri Lanka. On the other hand, JLA. Brandes (a Dutch archeologist) and F.A. Sutjipto (an Indonesian archeologist) believe it is a tradition native to regions such as Toraja, Flores, Halmahera, and Papua. It is noteworthy that these areas were not directly influenced by Hinduism but do have an old tradition of making batik.
GP. Rouffaer also reported that the gringsing pattern was already known by the 12th century in Kediri, East Java. He concluded that such a delicate pattern could only be created by means of the canting (also spelled tjanting or tjunting; IPA: [tʃantɪŋ]) tool. He proposed that the canting was invented in Java around that time.
Batik was mentioned in the 17th century Malaysian literature, Sulalatus Salatin. The legend goes when Laksamana Hang Nadim was ordered by Sultan Mahmud to sail to India to get 140 pieces of serasah cloth (batik) with 40 types of flowers depicted on each. Unable to find any that fulfilled the requirements explained to him, he made up his own. On his return unfortunately, his ship sank and he only managed to bring four pieces, earning displeasure from the Sultan.
In Europe, the technique is described for the first time in the History of Java, published in London in 1817 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles who had been a British governor for the island, during the period when Napoleon occupied Holland. In 1873 the Dutch merchant Van Rijckevorsel gave the pieces he collected during a trip to Indonesia to the ethnographic museum in Rotterdam. Today Tropenmuseum housed the biggest collection of Indonesian batik in the Netherlands. The Dutch were active in developing batik in the colonial era, they introduced new innovations and prints. And it was indeed starting from the early 19th century that the art of batik really grew finer and reached its golden period. Exposed to the Exposition Universelle at Paris in 1900, the Indonesian batik impressed the public and the artisans. After the independence of Indonesia and the decline of the Dutch textile industry, the Dutch batik production was lost, the Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag contains artifacts from that era.
Due globalization and industrialization, which introduced automated techniques, new breeds of batik, known as batik cap (IPA: [tʃap]) and batik print emerged, and the traditional batik which incorporates the hand written wax-resist dyeing technique is known now as batik tulis (lit: 'Written Batik'). At the same time Indonesian immigrants to Malaysia and Singapore brought Indonesian batik with them.
The Javanese aristocrats R.A. Kartini in kebaya and her husband.Her skirt is of batik, with the parang pattern which was for aristocrats. Her husband is wearing a blangkon
Depending on the quality of the art work, dyes, and fabric, the finest batik tulis halus cloth can fetch several thousand dollars, reflecting the fact that it probably took several months to make. Batik tulis has both sides of the cloth ornamented.
In Indonesia, traditionally, batik was sold in 2.25-meter lengths used for kain panjang or sarong for kebaya dress. It can also be worn by wrapping it around the body, or made into a hat known as blangkon. Infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck. Certain batik designs are reserved for brides and bridegrooms, as well as their families. The dead are shrouded in funerary batik. Other designs are reserved for the Sultan and his family or their attendants. A person's rank could be determined by the pattern of the batik he or she wore.
Sacred Dance of Bedhoyo Ketawang. The batik is wrapped around the body
For special occasions, batik was formerly decorated with gold leaf or dust. This cloth is known as prada (a Javanese word for gold) cloth. Gold decorated cloth is still made today; however, gold paint has replaced gold dust and leaf.
Batik garments play a central role in certain rituals, such as the ceremonial casting of royal batik into a volcano. In the Javanese naloni mitoni "first pregnancy" ceremony, the mother-to-be is wrapped in seven layers of batik, wishing her good things. Batik is also prominent in the tedak siten ceremony when a child touches the earth for the first time. Batik is also part of the labuhan ceremony when people gather at a beach to throw their problems away into the sea.
Contemporary batik, while owing much to the past, is markedly different from the more traditional and formal styles. For example, the artist may use etching, discharge dyeing, stencils, different tools for waxing and dyeing, wax recipes with different resist values and work with silk, cotton, wool, leather, paper or even wood and ceramics. The wide diversity of patterns reflects a variety of influences, ranging from Arabic calligraphy, European bouquets and Chinese phoenixes to Japanese cherry blossoms and Indian or Persian peacocks..
In Indonesia, batik popularity has its up and downs. Historically it was essential for ceremonial costumes and it was worn as part of a kebaya dress, which was commonly worn every day. According to Professor Michael Hitchcock of the University of Chichester (UK), batik "has a strong political dimension. The batik shirt was invented as a formal non-Western shirt for men in Indonesia in the 1960s. It waned from the 1960s onwards, because more and more women chose western clothes. However, batik clothing has revived somewhat in the 21st century, due to the effort of Indonesian fashion designers to innovate the kebaya by incorporating new colors, fabrics, and patterns. Batik is a fashion item for many young people in Indonesia, such as a shirt, dress, or scarf for casual wear. For a formal occasion, a kebaya is standard for women. It is also acceptable for men to wear batik in the office or as a replacement for jacket-and-tie at certain receptions.
In one form or another, batik has worldwide popularity. Nelson Mandela wears a batik shirt on formal occasions, the South Africans call it a Madiba shirt. The Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza wore an Indonesian kebaya and batik on her wedding day. The late mother of United States president Barack Obama, Ann Dunham was an avid collector of Batik. In 2009, an exhibition of Dunham's textile batik art collection (A Lady Found a Culture in its Cloth: Barack Obama's Mother and Indonesian Batiks) toured six museums in the United States, finishing the tour at the Textile Museum..
Batik is often worn in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and southern Thailand, brought there by Indonesian immigrants or merchants in the 19th century. The flight attendants of Indonesian, Singaporean, and Malaysian national airlines all wear batik in their uniform. Batik sarongs are also designed as wraps for casual beachwear.
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 famous artists to create batik paintings which grace many homes and offices.
Types and Variations of Batik
Javanese Kraton Batik (Javanese court Batik)
Javanese keraton (court) Batik is the oldest batik tradition known in Java. Also known as Batik Pedalaman (inland batik) in contrast with Batik Pesisiran (coastal batik). This type of batik has earthy color tones such as black, brown, and dark yellow (sogan), sometimes against a white background. The motifs of traditional court batik have symbolic meanings. Some designs are restricted: larger motifs can only be worn by royalty; and certain motifs are not suitable for women, or for specific occasions (e.g., weddings).
The palace courts (keratonan) in two cities in central Java are known for preserving and fostering batik traditions:
• Surakarta (SoloCity) Batik. Traditional Surakarta court batik is preserved and fostered by the Susuhunan and Mangkunegaran courts. The main areas that produce Solo batik are the Laweyan and Kauman districts of the city. Solo batik typically has sogan as the background color. Pasar Klewer near the Susuhunan palace is a retail trade center.
• Yogyakarta Batik. Traditional Yogya batik is preserved and fostered by the Yogyakarta Sultanate and the Pakualaman court. Usually Yogya Batik has white as the background color. Fine batik is produced at Kampung Taman district. Beringharjo market near Malioboro street is well known as a retail batik trade center in Yogyakarta.
Pesisir Batik (Coastal Batik)
Cirebon batik depicting sea creatures
Pesisir batik is created and produced by several areas on the northern coast of Java and on Madura. As a consequence of maritime trading, the Pesisir batik tradition was more open to foreign influences in textile design, coloring, and motifs, in contrast to inland batik which was relatively independent of outside influences. For example, Pesisir batik utilizes vivid colors and Chinese motifs such as clouds, phoenix, dragon, qilin, lotus, peony, and floral patterns.
• Pekalongan Batik. The most famous Pesisir Batik production area is the town of Pekalongan in Central Java province. Compared to other pesisir batik production centers, the batik production houses in this town is the most thriving. Batik Pekalongan was influenced by both Dutch-European and Chinese motifs, for example the buketan motifs was influenced by European flower bouquet.
• Cirebon Batik. Also known as Trusmi Batik because that is the primary production area. The most well known Cirebon batik motif is megamendung (rain cloud) that was used in the former Cirebon kraton. This cloud motif shows Chinese influence.
• Lasem Batik. Lasem batik is characterized by a bright red color called abang getih pithik (chicken blood red). Batik Lasem is heavily influenced by Chinese culture.
• Tuban Batik. Batik gedog is the speciality of Tuban Batik, the batik was created from handmade tenun (woven) fabrics.
• Madura Batik. Madurese Batik displays vibrant colors, such as yellow, red, and green. Madura unique motifs for example pucuk tombak (spear tips), also various flora and fauna images.
Indonesian Batik from other areas
• Garut Batik. This type of batik is produced by Sundanese people in the Garut district of West Java province. Despite applying traditional Javanese court motifs such as parang, Garut batik uses lighter and brighter colors compared to Javanese court batik.
• Banten Batik. This type of batik employs bright and soft pastel colors. It represents a revival of a lost art from the Sultanate of Banten, rediscovered through archaeological work during 2002-2004. Twelve motifs from locations such as Surosowan and several other places have been identified.
• Java Hokokai Batik. This type is characterized by flowers in a garden surrounded by butterflies. This motif originated during the Japanese occupation of Java in the early 1940s.
• Balinese Batik. Balinese batik was influenced by neighbouring Javanese Batik and is relatively recent compared to the latter island, having been stimulated by the tourism industry and consequent rising demand for souvenirs (since the early 20th century). In addition to the traditional wax-resist dye technique and industrial techniques such as the stamp (cap) and painting, Balinese batik sometimes utilizes ikat (tie dye). Balinese batik is characterized by bright and vibrant colors, which the tie dye technique blends into a smooth gradation of color with many shades.
• Jambi Batik. Trade relations between the Melayu Kingdom in Jambi and Javanese coastal cities have thrived since the 13th century. Therefore, the northern coastal areas of Java (Cirebon, Lasem, Tuban, and Madura) probably influenced Jambi in regard to batik. In 1875, Haji Mahibat from Central Java revived the declining batik industry in Jambi. The village of Mudung Laut in Pelayangan district is known for producing Jambi batik. This Jambi batik, as well as Javanese batik, influenced the batik craft in the Malay peninsula.
• Riau Batik.
• Palembang Batik.
• Aceh Batik.
A Batik Tulis maker, applying melted wax
following pattern on fabric using canting,
Yogyakarta (city), Indonesia.
Melted wax (Javanese: malam) is applied to cloth before being dipped in dye. It is common for people to use a mixture of beeswax and paraffin wax. The beeswax will hold to the fabric and the paraffin wax will allow cracking, which is a characteristic of batik. Wherever the wax has seeped through the fabric, the dye will not penetrate. Sometimes several colours are used, with a series of dyeing, drying and waxing steps.
Dipping cloth in dye.
Thin wax lines are made with a canting, a wooden handled tool with a tiny metal cup with a tiny spout, out of which the wax seeps.
After the last dyeing, the fabric is hung up to dry. Then it is dipped in a solvent to dissolve the wax, or ironed between paper towels or newspapers to absorb the wax and reveal the deep rich colors and the fine crinkle lines that give batik its character. This traditional method of batik making is called batik tulis.
For batik prada, gold leaf was used in the Yogjakarta and Surakarta area. The Central Javanese used gold dust to decorate their prada cloth. It was applied to the fabric using a handmade glue consisting of egg white or linseed oil and yellow earth. The gold would remain on the cloth even after it had been washed. The gold could follow the design of the cloth or could take on its own design. Older batiks could be given a new look by applying gold to them.
Industrialization of Technique
The application of wax with a canting is done with great care and therefore is very time-consuming. As the population increased and commercial demand rose, time-saving methods evolved. Other methods of applying the wax to the fabric include pouring the liquid wax, painting the wax with a brush, and putting hot wax onto pre-carved wooden or copper block (called a cap or tjap) and stamping the fabric.
The invention of the copper block (cap) developed by the Javanese in the 20th century revolutionized batik production. By block printing the wax onto the fabric, it became possible to mass-produce designs and intricate patterns much faster than one could possibly do by using a canting.
Batik print is the common name given to fabric which incorporates batik pattern without actually using the wax-resist dyeing technique. It represents a further step in the process of industrialization, reducing the cost of batik by mass-producing the pattern repetitively, as a standard practice employed in the worldwide textile industry.
For both batik tulis and batik cap, the following rules apply:
• Hand wash, or best just soak the cloth
• Use very little detergent, best to use lerak
• Hang the batik directly, do not squeeze the cloth
• Do not hang in direct sunlight
• The iron should not directly touch the cloth, best to use a steam iron
• Silk batik is best dry-cleaned
• Do not spray perfume onto the cloth directly
Videos on Batik
Batik Process Demo.m4v
Batik Republic : Basic Understanding Of Batik Painting