24 September 2006

BATIK : History & Tradition

Batik is a Javanese word and refers to a generic wax-resist dyeing technique used on fabric. The word comes from the Javanese word "amba", meaning ”to write”, and the Indonesian word for dot or point, "titik".The technique is thought to be over a thousand years old, and historical evidence demonstrates that cloth decorated with this resist technique was in use in the early centuries AD in Africa, the Middle East, and in several places in Asia. Although there is no sure explanation as to where batik first was “invented”, many observers believe that it was brought to Asia by travelers from the Indian subcontinent.

Despite the fact that batik may have originated elsewhere, most observers believe that batik has reached its highest artistic expression in Indonesia, particularly in Java. The art of batik was later spread to the rest of the Indonesian archipelago and to the Malay Peninsula, where the popularity of the cloth led to the establishment of many other production centers. Batik has become a very central means of artistic expression for many of the areas of Asia and a deeply integrated facet of Asian culture.

Indonesia is a very diverse country, and Indonesian batik textiles exhibit many styles. Some of the traditional styles carry mystic-influenced patterns, some have illustrations of plant animals and people, and some have extremely intricate patterns. The traditional batik style (usually using earth colors and very intricate), was known to be the style reserved for the nobles at the Java Keraton (court). The contemporary styles have brighter hues compared to the traditional ones.In general, Malaysian batik emphasizes a more contemporary style of brighter hues and more versatile but less intricate patterns. Batik has long been a part of Javanese heritage, and the batik tradition in Malaysia is much younger.