We get this question a lot. Let’s face it. Most of you will come to know batik from your trips to Bali and Jogjakarta markets. Batik would probably come to your sight in the shape of fun dresses, sarongs and the odd handbags.
Oh but that's not all! There's so much more to Batik than what meets the eyes.
However, before we dig into the why, let’s level-set our understanding of what Batik truly means. Simply put, Batik is a technique to apply colours and patterns on fabric. Batik is a resist-dyeing method that uses wax to prevent dye from reaching all parts of a piece of cloth, thereby creating the desired patterns.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s take a journey through time to truly understand where we’re coming from.
The earliest records Batik dates back to the Sui Dynasty of China between 581 and 618 AD. Other evidence suggests that not only is Batik an ancient form of art, it is also very widespread in Asia and Europe, with early batik artefacts found date back as far as 2000 years.
Believed to be introduced from India during the 6th century, Indonesian Batik has gone through hundreds of years of development under various rulers and their courts. Various patterns that were created reflect the past political states of Indonesia itself. Indonesia used to be heavily influenced by Hinduism, and, with the caste system, the patterns were used to denote social status. Similar to how the colour purple was reserved for royalties in Europe, certain Batik designs were reserved for the royal families of Indonesia. Designs such as the Parang motives can only be worn by royalties, and the early rulers mandated that Batik must be worn in court .
While rich in history, with each area having its own batik story and patterns created, the original Batik technique is declining in usage due to the time and manpower required to produce one piece of clothing.
What we’ve found rather exciting is the fact that we’ve seen a steady stream revival of Batik, and other traditional techniques, in the past few years. The revival sees a significant interest from designers and craftmakers alike to infuse Batik into their modern creations. We created Kisaku out of our desire to truly show these creations to the wider world. And at the same time, lending a hand to those artisans and craftmakers who’d like to take their skills to the next level. A win-win situation for all, we say.
Note that the term Batik has expanded beyond its original intended meaning. Worry not, we will cover it in our next post.
Stay tune and stay true!