The Art of Batik

‘Batik' refers to the art of dyeing fabric by making use of a resist technique; covering areas of cloth with a dye-resistant substance to prevent them absorbing colors. The term “Batik” is an Indonesian-Malay word thought to be derived from the word 'ambatik' which translated means 'a cloth with little dots'.

The technique of Batik dates back a thousand years and can be traced to India, ancient Africa, the Middle East and in several places in Asia. Presently Batik is an internationally popular art form and is a part of Asian culture as a whole. The scope of artistic freedom and experimentation of Batik painting has contributed to its immense popularity. As patterns are applied by actual drawing rather than by weaving with thread, the artists can put forth their best in terms of creativity

and imagination. Batik fabric is also popular for its durability. The colors in Batik are much more resistant to wear than those of painted or printed fabrics because the cloth is completely immersed in dye and the areas not protected by resist are allowed to absorb hues to the extent that the colors do not easily fade.

The history of Indian batik can be traced as far back as 2000 years. Indians knew resist method of printing designs on cotton fabrics long before any other country had even tried it. Indian cotton and dyes were very popular. The indigo blue was one of the earliest dyes to be used. Batik is created in several ways like splash method, screen-printing method, and hand painting one is by a Kalamkari pen.

The art of batik is a three-stage process of waxing, dyeing and dewaxing (removing the wax). There are also several sub-processes like preparing the cloth, tracing the designs, stretching the cloth on the frame, waxing the area of the cloth that does not need dyeing, preparing the dye, dipping the cloth in dye, boiling the cloth to remove wax and washing the cloth in soap. The characteristic effects of the batik are the fine cracks that appears in the wax, which allow small amounts of the dye to seep in. The use of wax properly is also important to get the desired pattern. Cloths like cambric, poplin, voiles, and pure silk are used. Natural colors derived from barks of trees, leaves, flowers and minerals are used in Batik fabric.

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