What is Batik?
The most common misconception is that batik are textiles with distinctive traditional javanese motif.
This misconception degrades the true value of batik and leads to cheap copy printed clothes with traditional javanese motif and call it batik. The misconception cost genuine batik artist a lot and almost leads to Indonesia treasured heritage art to extinction.
Batik actually has 2 meaning. The process and the product.
Batik as a process refers to method (originally used in Java) of producing coloured designs on textiles by dyeing them, having first applied wax to the parts to be left undyed.
Batik as a product refers to finish good, coloured textiles processed batik process (wax resist dye process).
Batik As Process
Hand Drawn Batik
Hand drawn batik is done by applying wax to the textiles using traditional tool called Canting.
Stamp batik is done by applying wax to a stamp and stamp it to the textile
Here’s a sneak peek how a batik artist applying the wax for hand drawn batik process.
Every single detail was done by hand. Truly a masterpiece.
Key Batik Process Differentiator
One and only
Every single stroke is unique, just like your signature
Hand stroke is flexible, it can move around easily making any curves and shapes
Beauty of imperfection
Nobody’s perfect, hand stroke can miss the trace and the wax not applied evenly
Stamping process bring repeated predictable pattern
Batik stamp usually made of copper and the stiffness make it very difficult to copy delicate pattern
Stamp will bring high accuracy of trace but not 100% accuracy due to liquid wax absorption to the textile
Batik as Product
When we talk about batik as a product, it’s where the variation all about.
We’ll try to cover it shortly here
Most people usually ask it as what batik is this…while actually they refer to which area produced this batik?
Indonesia is a very big country and each area has it’s own trademarks that differentiate itself from other area.
Lasem batik for example, it’s a mix between local and Chinese culture. It’s trademark motif is Latohan (seaweed like plants), Sekar Jagad (flowers), butterflies, dragon, peacock, burung hong (phoenix), etc.
Apart from the motif, there other variation of batik is it’s style.
- Bledak: It is made by covering most of the fabric with wax and only the main motif is not blocked resulting very distinctive motif on white background
- Selendang/Sling: It has higher length to width ratio compared with other batik.
- Pagi Sore/Morning Evening: A piece of batik sheet is divided equally on it’s center where the left side has totally different design, colour, and motif compared to the right side.
How is it priced?
In general, batik sheet is valued based on material, workmanship, art and historical value.
Hand drawn batik can only be made on high quality material.
Generally, it was made from high quality cotton with high thread count.
A small percentage of batik is made from silk.
Due to delicate nature of silk, it’s more common to find it used for stamped batik or simpler/small size batik.
The biggest cost component for hand drawn batik is for it’s workmanship.
- Motif: the more details in the design, the more time required to complete, the more it costs
- Colour agent: dye using natural substance will cost more compared with synthetic colour.
- Colour combination: wax need to be reapplied every time colour is changed. The more colour combination, the more expensive it will be. The cost and value will increase exponentially based on the motif and colour combination.
- Experience and accuracy: hand drawn batik requires a lot of patience and experience to trace the motif using wax and canting. As the difficulty of the motif increase, the more accuracy required.
The true value of hand drawn batik is in it’s artistic and historical value.
Just like paintings, there’s no definite price tag for a hand drawn batik (batik tulis).
It’s a masterpiece, produced with love and care from the batik artist.
It’s a traditional art and requires time to produce while the demand still increasing outpacing supply