What is Batik?

Batik is the ancient art of dyeing cloth using a resist. A resist is a substance which prohibits dyes from penetrating the fabric; it is most often melted wax, but starch, oils, flour paste and even mud have been used. The art may have been practiced more than 2000 years ago and evidence of this has been discovered in most Eastern and Middle Eastern countries, including China, Japan, India, Persia and Africa.
Although it is unsure where it originated, it was on the islands of Indonesia that the art was perfected. The name is derived from the Indonesian word 'tik' which means drop, referring to drops of hot wax.

To begin the process, melted wax is applied to the areas of a white cloth that are to remain white and then the fabric is dyed with the palest color that is to be used. After the cloth has dried, melted wax is applied to the areas that are to remain the dyed color and then it is dyed the next darker shade which is then in turn waxed. This alternating waxing and dyeing is repeated until the desired effect is achieved, with the darkest color being last. The hardened wax may crack leaving a way for dye to absorb into the fabric, giving it a veined look which is indicative of batik. The wax is then removed by ironing, boiling, dry cleaning or with solvents.Different tools can be utilized for the application of the wax. A tjanting, which can come in many shapes and sizes is most often used and allows for very precise work. It consists of a small metal reservoir, mounted on a handle, with a spout from which the wax flows. Brushes and carved wood or shaped metal printing blocks called tjaps may also be used.

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