Dancers – Batik is an ancient system of textile designing that evolved in the Indonesian island of Java. It reached India through trade. It is still practiced traditionally in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India, and Sri Lanka among many others.
This craft uses hot wax and cold dyes and is a wax-resist dyeing technique. It can be done only on pure cotton and pure silk as synthetic material cannot withstand hot wax. Traditionally naphthol dyes are used in batik. The wax that is used is essentially a combination of paraffin and pure beeswax. Batik is reversible and wherever the wax cracks the color seeps in giving batik its unique cracked effect. The design is first traced onto a washed white cotton fabric. Then the black outline is given after which the waxing commences. All the areas that are to remain white are first covered in wax. Then the entire fabric is dyed in the next color which is usually yellow. After this, the cloth is dried in the shade and all the areas that are to remain yellow are waxed. Then the entire fabric is dyed in the next color. This process is repeated till the final color is reached. Then the entire fabric is boiled in soap water till all the wax melts away. It is then washed well and ironed. At each stage when the cloth is dyed, the wax cracks, making the color seep into the design giving it a cracked effect. This is what makes batik unique. The design can be seen on both sides of the cloth also. Batik is washable. It needs to be protected from direct sunlight, however.
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