• Short Summary

    Batik printing is a highly skilled craft of long standing in the indonesian isle of Java.

  • Description

    Batik printing is a highly skilled craft of long standing in the indonesian isle of Java.

    At Jogjakarta, a Batik Research Centre is constantly developing new methods to improve the quality of printing and create modern designs, without breaking a tradition going back well over a thousand years.

    Batik printed cloth has become an Indonesian export article, but the greatest demand is to be met in Indonesia itself where men wear it as a "K???in", instead of trousers, and women use it for the "sarong", their main dress, while both sexes need it for their head dresses.

    Basically, the technique involves putting a fabric through several stages of dyeing, during each of which a different part of the fabric is covered by a dye-resistant wax so that ultimately a pattern or design of undyed parts emerges.

    The cloth, in this case white cambric, is first prepared with liquid starch to give a firm background for printing and prevent wax from penetrating into the material. A wooden hammer is used to smooth out the starched cambric into an even flat surface.

    A pattern is traced on the prepared cloth and the background, which is to remain white, gets a covering of thick wax on both sides. The cambric then goes into a tub filled with a dye solution and is thoroughly boiled for a week.

    After this, the wax is scraped form the cloth, other parts are covered with wax and exposed to a different dye. This process is repeated until all desired colours are in place. Each colour is "boiled in" up to twenty times to prevent fading.

    When the colours - obtained form indigo dye, ferrosulphate, and extracts from the bark of different trees - are fast, the cloth is steeped in a lime and alum solution and finally put in hot water to remove all remaining wax.

    All printing is done by hand, and it takes anything form two to 18 months to complete one piece of material. Ordinary batik cloth sells at 200 rupees per piece, approximately GBP2, while a more elaborate example of this ancient craft, with ornate patterns and in several colours, may easily fetch GBP150...not an exorbitant sum for one and a half years hard work.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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    Available on request
    Black & White
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