Wax resist dyeing technique in fabric is an ancient art form. Discoveries show it already existed in Egypt in the 4th century BCE, where it was used to wrap mummies; linen was soaked in wax, and scratched using a sharp tool. In Asia, the technique was practised in China during the T'ang dynasty (618-907 CE), and in India and Japan during the Nara period (645-794 CE). In Africa it was originally practised by the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, Soninke and Wolof in Senegal.
In Java,Indonesia, batik predates written records. G. P. Rouffaer argues that the technique might have been introduced during the 6th or 7th century from India or Sri Lanka. On the other hand, JLA. Brandes (a Dutch archeologist) and F.A. Sutjipto (an Indonesian archeologist) believe Indonesian batik is a native tradition, regions such asToraja,Flores,Halmahera,and Papua which were not directly influenced by Hinduism and have an old age tradition of batik making.
Rouffaer also reported that the gringsing pattern was already known by the 12th century in Kediri .
He concluded that such a delicate pattern could only be created by means of the canting tool. He proposed that the canting was invented in Java around that time.
Batik was mentioned in the 17th century Malay Annals. The legend goes when Laksamana Hang Nadim was ordered by Sultan Mahmud to sail to India to get 140 pieces of serasah cloth (batik) with 40 types of flowers depicted on each. Unable to find any that fulfilled the requirements explained to him, he made up his own. On his return unfortunately, his ship sank and he only managed to bring four pieces, earning displeasure from the Sultan.
In Europe, the technique is described for the first time in the History of Java, published in London in 1817 by Sir Thomas Standford Rafless who had been a British governor for the island. In 1873 the Dutch merchant Van Rijckevorsel gave the pieces he collected during a trip to Indonesia to the ethnographic museum in Rotterdam. The Dutch were active in developing batik in the colonial era, they introduced new innovations and prints.
Due to globalization and industrialization, which introduced automated techniques, new breeds of batik, known as batik cap and batik print emerged, and the traditional batik, which incorporates the hand written wax-resist dyeing technique is known now as batik tulis (lit: 'Written Batik'). At the same time, Indonesian immigrants to Malaysia and Singapore brought Indonesian batik with them.
|Example of Batik Cap|