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‘The History of Batik’ Dot’s Workbox Art Art Please let me know if you find any broken links Copyright     ‘Dot’s Workbox’ 2011 - 2015
Batik art is a very old art form used for decorating cloth with wax resist and dyes. Evidence of it has been found all  over the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia and India from as long ago as 2000  years. Batik artists in China and Japan made batik pictures around 600 AD on silk using beeswax which resists cracking.
Some of these were used for covering screens. They show a wide variety of countryside scenes. In India, batik would have been  executed on cotton cloth so, although no pieces exist today, there is evidence from frescoes in the Ajunta caves that garments and head wraps were decorated with this medium.  
The   oldest   discoveries   of   what   is   to   be   assumed   batik   art   (600   AD)   are   from   excavations   in   Egypt. These   show   blue   and   white   patterns   on   linen   or   occasionally   wool   fabrics.   Central   and   West   Africa also   have   a   history   in   this   art   form   except   that   instead   of   using   wax   as   a   resist,   they   use   cassava   and rice paste.
Batik   is   most   prevalent   in   Indonesia   on   the   island   of   Java.   It   began   as   a   rich   person's   pastime   with servants   doing   the   messy   work.   It   then   became   an   important   trading   item.   In   1835   the   Dutch,   who colonized   Java,   took   some   craftsmen   from   here   back   to   Holland   so   that   they   could   teach   the   art   in their   factories.   From   that   time   on   it   was   produced   on   a   greater   scale   throughout   Europe   with   the Germans developing more efficient dyes.
Batik art was originally produced for Royalty and important families. Certain designs identified different people's positions socially or were a symbol of their family. Some designs had very specific meanings that made a personal statement about the wearer. Today batik cloth is worn by rich and poor alike and the methods of decorating the cloth are more varied. As in the past, natural fabrics (cotton, silk, linen) are the best to use as they absorb the dyes better.
A 'tjanting' tool was used to apply the wax. This is a copper-tipped pen with a reservoir, now known as a 'cant'. It is still in use but now in conjunction with other methods such as stencilling, stamping and brushing.
Historically the dyes used for batik, or for that matter the colouring of any piece of cloth, would all have come from natural sources - mainly plants, but some insects. Now most dyes around the world are chemically produced as this ensures richer, more vibrant colours
tjanting tool gif
  Batik Cloth         Tjanting tool
Blackberry jpg Cochineal Insect jpg
Cochineal Insect    Blackberry