Saga Behind Hand Batik Art - The Oldest Fabric Art in the World
- by Sumana Bhattacharya
Batik is not definitely something native to India, rather it is derived from the Indonesian word Ambatik, which is easy to translate in wax writing. A 2000-year-old art predominant in areas like Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and India. An ancient handloom art form and fabric painting clubbed with wax before dyed.
Batik is a sure shot sign of sophistication and cultivation owing to its delicate motifs that include flowers, birds, nature at its best. This fabric paint comes more with a three-dimensional approach that adds depth and texture. So the batik art silk sarees available with us predominantly shows nature forms and features.
Brief History Behind Batik Art
The term batik is said to derive from the Indonesia word is known as "amba" means to write and "titik" means dots. These dots refer to the dots used to make a pattern with the molten wax. However, batik art has spread out of the Indonesian territory and has moved to regions like India. The popular places in India where batik is highly popular are Shantiniketan in West Bengal, Mundra in Gujarat, Injambakkam in Tamil Nadu and Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
Features that make Batik Art stand out in the crowd
- A time-consuming process so artisans need to toil a lot
- The whole technique is done by hand and so it is a meticulous process
- The fabric goes through a wax process before being dyed.
- The de-waxing process is done carefully to bring out the colors of the design.
- In general, there are three methods of batik printing: Splash, screen print, and hand painted
- A Tjanting pen or a Kalamkari pen to do the batik
- The batik gives the artisans particular artistic freedom as every design is true of a kind and ingrained with artistic style
- Typically a batik is done on the silk or cotton sarees, dupattas, wall hangings and contemporary products like bags, home furnishings, etc.
How is Batik Art Done?
Batik is done through a three-step process:
- applying the wax
- removing the wax
The traditional way of applying the molten wax is done through a Tjanting pen or Kalamkari pen, fitted with a bowl to hold the wax. This is the most unique method to apply wax and create unique designs.
Even with the use of wooden blocks and screen printing, you can make batik designs. The designs get etched on the blocks and the design is then mounted on the screen and waxed to the fabric.
After the wax is applied it is dipped in color. The patterns covered with wax retains the color rest get faded. Fine cracks develop on the surface of the wax and allow a small amount of the dye to seep through. For this, batik art gets a crack pattern often. The fabric is slowly dried and the next set of wax is used, again dipped in next color and the process gets repeated multiple times to create elaborate motifs.
In the final stage, the fabric is de-waxed and boiling water is used to melt down the wax and washed in soap to remove the final traces of wax.
NOTE: However, at times you might feel that the silk sarees available with us online retain a waxy touch as silk does not leave the feel soon.
Batik growth in Bengal
It was Rabindranath Tagore who traveled to Java in Indonesia and was fascinated with the exquisite art of batik. He brought back several pieces of fabric with the hope to revive the traditional technique in India. The study of Batik art was introduced in Vswabharati University in Shantiniketan. Thousands of artists got involved with the art and gradually spread across India making three more centers in Gujarat and MP.
Experimentation with Batik in India continues where we use vegetable colors, natural dyes to reduce the costs and create eco-friendly methods of production. Apart from dying on silk and cotton sarees, you will find the Shantiniketan artistic does batik on leather goods, like side bags, clutches, file covers, wallets, etc. These all get exported at quite exorbitant prices to various parts of India and outside India.
To know the kind of collection in hand batik we have at IndyVogue you have to take a tour of our recent Collections like this one in -
Sumana Bhattacharya completed her Masters in Economics from the University of Calcutta & was working with the Department of Education, Govt. of West Bengal to provide training to the teachers in Government Schools. She moved to USA in 2005 after getting married & is the mother of 2 kids. She is the one that drives IndyVogue every day, every hour, every minute and every second. Salute to her and her undying spirit.