What is Batik?

Batik is one of the oldest crafts in the world and originates from the East Indies, in what is known today as Indonesia and Malaysia. Batik actually refers to a method of drawing or painting with wax upon a fabric, after which the material is dyed and the wax removed. The result of this process is a design pattern in silhouette upon the dyed background of the fabric.

Batik was originally an exclusive and very labour-intensive craft  that was conducted under the patronage of the royal houses of Java and the Malay kingdoms. In fact, certain patterns could only be worn by members of the nobility and one could determine the royal lineage of a person by the cloth he or she was wearing.

Today, however, batik has developed into more of a design style rather than a fabric dyeing process. This unique style is characterised by its combinations of delicate floral motifs and other elements inspired from nature, intricate geometrical patterns and strikingly rich hues and colours.

Malayan batik, in particular, developed its own style that is quite different from Javanese batik, with larger and simpler patterns that relied heavily on brush painting to apply colors on fabrics. The colors also tend to be lighter and more vibrant than deeply-hued Javanese batik.