The Indonesians were making Batiks as early as the 12th century.
The technique consists of applying wax or some other type of dye resistant substance (like rice-paste) to cloth to produce a design.
"Batik" is an Indonesian word which means "to dot".
At one point in time, the use of certain motifs was to preserve the Indonesian aristocracy. The rise of Islam in Indonesia contributed to the absence of representation of living things (clouds, birds, lions and dragons, flowers, etc) in Batik motifs on certain islands.
Where Batiks were once worn by people of the royal courts, nowadays it is an important money making industry and trade.
The old traditional method entails hot wax being applied to smooth cloth with the "canting", a pen-like instrument with a small reservoir of liquid wax. This instrument can be made of copper or metal.
The design (motif) is first traced onto the prepared cloth and the patterns drawn in wax on the white cloth or on a cloth previously dyed to the lightest colour required in the finished product.
The wax-covered areas resist colour change when immersed in a dye bath.
The waxing and dying are continued with increasingly dark shades, until the final colours are achieved.
Wax is added to protect previously dyed areas or scraped off to expose new areas to the dye.
Finally, all the wax is scraped off and the cloth boiled to remove all traces of the wax.
The wax mixture usually includes beeswax, paraffin, resins and fats mixed in various proportions.
This type of Batik is called Batik Tulis, which means "written Batik", because the patterns are drawn onto the cloth freehand style.
Mid 19th century, the production of Batiks was speeded up by applying the wax with a metal stamp named a "cap". The caps were also made of copper or metal.
This new cap technique can usually be identified by the repetition of identical patterns, whereas in the freer compositon using the traditional canting method, even repeated geometric motifs vary slightly.
Cap Batik is the newer form but considered TRUE Batik, and NOT to be confused with screen-printed cloth, which completely bypasses the waxing process and is often passed off as Batik.
Some Batiks combine both (canting and cap-) techniques.
Each island and region has it's own traditional motifs and designs.,br>
You will recognize different Batik techniques and designs in the borders of the pages on this site.