Textile Tradition- Javanese Batik from Indonesia

Batik is a craft which is well known all over the world. It is an ancient art form in decorating cloth using wax and coloured dyes which has been practised for many centuries. ‘In Java, Indonesia, batik is part of an ancient tradition, and some of the finest batik cloth in the world is still made there. ‘The word batik originates from the Javanese tik and means to dot’, (The Batik Guild), which is usually the technique of batik, dotting wax. Another process of Batik is the brushing strokes and lines of the hot wax on cloth using special tools called Tjanting or canting tools, letting it cool, then dying the fabric with a variety of colourful dyes. The wax works as a resist to the dye, so they do not bleed into each other, leaving a wax print/pattern design.


‘Batik: Ancient art of painting in wax’ by Saakshi Khanna (figure 1)

As this technique is so old, it is hard to trace it back to when it first started or when people first applied wax instead of other medias, ‘No one knows exactly where and when people first began to apply wax, vegetable paste, paraffin, or even mud to cloth that would then resist a dye’ (Inger McCabe Elliott). This shows how much Batik has evolved over time, becoming more of a useful and wearable cloth rather than just a piece of art.

Batik designs have changed over the years becoming more elaborate, expressive and exquisite due too a combination of styles usually consisting of; leaves, birds flowers and intricate pattern. This variety made it more popular. Some Javanese woman would make batiks for their own uses, such as home decor, furniture, or on their clothes, and others began to manufacture batik to sell. It is believed that ‘some became well known, their work sought after by wealthy European, Chinese, and Indonesian patrons’,(Julie Berger Hochstrasser). This is when the craft became prominent and was being produced more often.


‘Origins of Batik’ (figure 2)

The modern batik production works in many different ways, still handmade and high-quality, ‘batik is now acquired by collectors and museums’ (Thames & Hudson), not only are people interested in batik style clothing, but also enthusiastic art lovers, intrigued by wall hangings and batik art pieces. The technique has become so popular, ‘there is also a mass-production system for producing textiles as clothing’ (Thames & Hudson). This shows how far batik has developed and changed throughout the years and how much these ancient traditions can live on, still at a high quality and traditional style.

batik 2

‘Batik, Java’ by Blogger (figure 3)

Something I like about batik is how much it has evolved and grown, starting from being a decoration on cloth to now in people homes and being worn by many across the world. Me being interested in interiors and furnishings I find batik a colourful and vibrant way to make a space more homely. There are many different ways of purchasing anything batik but the best place would be directly from Indonesia, where the batik fabric is original and authentic. There is a huge variety of colourful batik patterns and fabrics which you can buy in big rolls, great for home furnishings. ‘Higher end shops also have design consultants who can help you with the layout of the room you are planning to design with your batik fabric and work with you on additional furnishings (pillows, bed covers, and cushions) to complete your colour scheme’ (Batik, the Traditional Fabric of Indonesia), this again shows how knowledgeable people are of Batik and how well known it is. Even if you have to order your fabric online there is a variety of sites you can visit filled with the beautiful batik fabric, ‘The timeless designs of beautiful batik motifs have been utilised by skilled fabric designers around the world who want to share the beauty of batik with an even wider audience across the globe’ (Batik, the Traditional Fabric of Indonesia). This makes me wonder how much further this traditional technique can be pushed in the more modern future.


‘Indonesian Batik History’ by Arda Pratama (figure 4)


Retail: Hobo, Indonesia (figure 5)


1 – The Batik Guild | Web design & hosting

Three Degrees West (2011-2015)


viewed on 23-10-15

2 – figure 1  Saakshi Khanna in Features for Kids

Batik: Ancient Art of Painting in Wax ‘Close up of a Batik artist painting on a white cloth, Indonesia’ (2015)


viewed on 23-10-15

3 – Elliott, I.M (1985)

Batik: fabled cloth of Java

P NO. 1 – Tales on a trade route island

viewed on 24-10-15

4 – Berger Hochstrasser, J. (2011)

Batik Belanda: Transformed Identities Cross Boundaries in the Visual Arts (Or: Eliza van Zuylen and Creativity at the Margins)

Vol. 35, P NO. 2

viewed on 26-10-15

5 – figure 2 – Origins of Batik (2000)


viewed on 26-10-15

6 – Kerlogue, F. (2004)

Batik: design, style & history, London: Thames & Hudson

P NO. 107

viewed on 30-10-15

7 – figure 3 Batik Indonesia-Javanese traditional, the art of painting on fabric

Batik, Java (2014)


viewed on 30-10-15

8 – Batik, the Traditional Fabric of Indonesia (1997-2015)


viewed on 2-11-15

9 – figure 4 – Arda Pratama

Indonesian Batik History (2015)


viewed on 2-11-15

10 – figure 5 – HBL Retail

Hobo, Indonesia (2011)


viewed on 3-11-15


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