Print this page

Batik

Skirt cloth, late 19th century, Java, Indonesia. Skirt cloth, late 19th century, Java, Indonesia. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. IS.131-1984.

Batik is an Indonesian term widely used to denote a method of cloth decoration that uses a resist dyed technique. Batik designs are created by applying molten wax, or sometimes a rice paste, onto the ground cloth and then dyeing it in a cold dye bath. The areas of cloth covered by the wax remain undyed.

Multiple waxing and dyeing to create a multi-coloured design is common. After each dyeing stage, the unwanted wax is removed (by boiling, melting or scraping it off) and fresh wax is applied to all the areas that are not to be coloured with the next dye. This process is continued until the desired pattern is created.

There are different ways of applying the wax, such as using a fine pointed stick, a small tool with a funnel or metal blocks. The tradition of making batiks can be found in many countries, such as China, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines and Sri Lanka, but the Indonesian batiks (especially those from Java) are some of the most well-known.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 10 August 2016).

CN

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 August 2016 20:16