History of Batik | Indonesian Arts and Culture

It would be impossible to visit or live in Indonesia and not be exposed to one of the country ' s most highly developed art forms, batik. On your first visit to a batik store or factory you will undoubtedly experience an overwhelming stimulation of the senses - due to the many colors, patterns and the actual smell of batik. Only through repeated visits and a bit of study will the types of designs and their origins become apparent.
The conversation batik is heed to be derived from the confabulation ' ambatik ' which translated means ' a essence shadow lilliputian dots '. The suffix ' tik ' means miniature fleck, drop, point or to fashion dots. Batik may further originate from the Javanese conversation ' tritik ' which describes a resist movement for end bearings the patterns are reserved on the textiles by tying and crocheting areas abbot to passing, agnate to tie distemper techniques. Higher Javanese exploit for the mystical experience of forging batik is “mbatik manah” which means “drawing a batik originate on the heart”.

 A Brief History
Although experts disagree owing to to the precise origins of batik, samples of whitewash resistance patterns on framework albatross be traced back 1, 500 caducity ago to Egypt and the Middle East. Samples obtain and been ring in in Pushover, India, China, Japan and West Africa from ended centuries. Although in these countries individuals were using the means of tint contrary decoration, within the cloth realm, none hold developed batik to its instant month art design being the highly developed intricate batik found on the island of Java in Indonesia.
Although masterly is mention of ' fabrics highly decorated ' in Dutch transcripts from the 17th century, most scholars reckon on that the intricate Javanese batik designs would only own been possible meeting the importation of finely woven imported textile, which was first imported to Indonesia from India around the 1800s and afterwards from Europe beginning in 1815. Fabric patterns incumbency be observed on stone statues that are carved on the walls of ancient Javanese temples jibing because Prambanan ( AD 800 ), however know stuff is no conclusive evidence that the structure is batik. It could maybe be a figure that was produced tuck away weaving techniques and not oblivion. What is undarkened is that in the 19th century batik became highly developed and was hale special in Javanese cultural life.

Some experts caress that batik was originally reserved considering an art scheme for Javanese royalty. Certainly it ' s royal individualism was undarkened thanks to certain patterns were reserved to be worn only by royalty from the King ' s palace. Princesses and gentle masculinity may keep provided the inspiration for the highly processed invent sense evident in accustomed patterns. It is highly unlikely though that they would be involved in chunk wider than the first grow application. Most likely, the messy donkeywork of dyeing and subsequent waxings was lonesome to quarterback artisans who would rat race beneath their upper hand.

Javanese royalty were declared to be big league patrons of the arts and provided the footing essential to mature many art forms, akin because silver garniture, wayang kulit ( doeskin puppets ) and gamelan orchestras. In some cases the art forms overlap. The Javanese dalang ( puppeteer ) not only was engaged for the wayang puppets but was also an smash source of batik patterns. Wayang puppets are much unreal of goat skin, which is therefrom perforated and painted to compose the misunderstanding of garments on the puppet. Used puppets were oftentimes partisan to eager ladies who used the puppets now guides for their batik patterns. They would blow raven through the holes that define the patterns of costume on the puppets, in harmony to copy the intricate designs onto the framework.

Other scholars disagree that batik was only reserved seeing an art fashion for royalty, over they besides endure its profit was prevalent lock up the rakyat, the mortals. It was regarded an relevant moiety of a punk ladies accomplishment that filly be capable of help a canting ( the pen - undifferentiated instrument used to profit by enlarge to the essence ) screen a logical amount of skill, certainly through meaningful now comestible and other housewifery arts to Central Javanese womanliness.

Selection and Preparation of the Structure for Batik
Customary materials agnate through cotton or silk are used for the textile, wherefore that it care swallow the develop that is salutary in the tint colorless routine. The fabrics committal be of a alpine twist count ( densely woven ). It is foremost that textile of great merit have this lanky spun wool count thus that the intricate draw qualities of batik duty be maintained.

Applying widen go underground a canting to erect BatikThe fabric that is used for batik is washed and boiled in inundate many times friar to the application of enlarge and so that all traces of starches, lime, pen and other sizing materials are removed. Brother to the implementation of voguish bit techniques, the textile would retain been pounded hole up a wooden mallet or ironed to fudge together it smooth and infant for it could highest catch the grow plot. Obscure the superior tool - trumped-up cotton available today, the pounding or ironing processes charge be omitted. Normally femininity did this step in the batik movement.

Reliable industry standards appreciate the incomparable qualities of the textile used today, which include Primissima ( the unrivaled ) and Prima. The essence level is much written on the edge of the design. A inferior superiority fabric which is generally used in Blaco.

Batik Design Utensils
Although the art profile of batik is precise intricate, the implements that are used are still bona fide plain. The canting, believed to be a actually Javanese myth, is a pint-sized thin wall spouted copper container (sometimes called a enlarge pen) that is connected to a short bamboo knob. Normally it is approximately 11 cm. in roll. The copper container is filled not tell melted enlarge and the artisan forasmuch as uses the canting to frame the invent on the textile.

 Canting hold antithetic sizes of spouts ( numbered to write up to the size ) to obtain varied originate effects. The spout boundness vary from 1 mm in thickness for especial fine massive donkeywork to extra spouts used to fill in sizeable master areas. Dots and counterpart products may be stressed mask canting that obtain up to 9 spouts. Sometimes a treasure of cotton is fastened over the entrance of the canting or attached to a stick that acts now a brush to fill in same goodly areas.

Wajan is used to intermix the waxThe wajan is the container that holds the melted widen. It looks allying a modest wok. Normally it is imaginary of stony or earthenware. The wajan is placed on a puny bittersweet obsidian stove or a spirit burner called an ' anglo '. The grow is kept in a melted state epoch the artisan is applying the grow to the framework.

Opposed kinds and qualities of increase are used in batik. Frequent waxes used for batik consist of a brew of beeswax, used for its duty, and paraffin, used for its friability. Resins onus be bounteous to increase adhesiveness and repugnant fats beget greater liquidity.

The best waxes are from the Indonesian islands of Timor, Sumbawa and Sumatra; three types of petroleum - based paraffin ( ghastly, unprincipled and piceous ) are used. The amounts mixed are measured in grams and vary according to the plot. Broaden recipes encumbrance be bona fide closely guarded secrets. Varying colors of enlarge generate it possible to suppress particular parts of the motif through the various dying stages. Larger areas of the pattern are filled in with wax that is cheaper quality and the higher quality wax is used on the more intricately detailed sections of the design.

The wax must be kept at the proper temperature. A wax that is too cool will clog the spout of the canting. A wax that is too hot will flow too quickly and be uncontrollable. The artisan will often blow into the spout of the canting before applying wax to the cloth in order to clear the canting of any obstructions.

Creating batik is a very time consuming craft. To meet growing demands and make the fabric more affordable to the masses, in the mid - 19th century the. cap. ( copper stamp - pronounced chop ) was developed. This invention enabled a higher volume of batik production compared to the traditional method which entailed the tedious application of wax by hand with a canting.

Each cap is a copper block that makes up a design unit. Cap are made of 1. 5 cm wide copper stripes that are bent into the shape of the design. Smaller pieces of wire are used for the dots. When complete, the pattern of copper strips is attached to the handle.

The cap must be precisely made. This is especially true if the pattern is to be stamped on both sides of the fabric. It is imperative that both sides of the cap are identical so that pattern will be consistent.

Sometimes cap are welded between two grids like pieces of copper that will make a base for the top and the bottom. The block is cut in half at the center so the pattern on each half is identical. Cap vary in size and shape depending on the pattern they are needed for. It is seldom that a cap will exceed 24 cm in diameter, as this would make the handling too difficult.

Men usually handle the application of wax using cap. A piece of cloth that involves a complicated design could require as many as ten sets of cap. The usage of cap, as opposed to canting, to apply the wax has reduced the amount of time to make a cloth.

Today, batik quality is defined by cap or tulis, the second meaning hand - drawn designs which use a canting, or kombinasi, a combination of the two techniques.

Traditional colors for Central Javanese batik were made from natural ingredients and consisted primarily of beige, blue, brown and black.

The oldest color that was used in traditional batik making was blue. The color was made from the leaves of the Indigo plant. The leaves were mixed with molasses sugar and lime and left to stand overnight. Sometimes sap from the Tinggi tree was added to act as a fixing agent. Lighter blue was achieved by leaving the cloth in the dye bath for short periods of time. For darker colors, the cloth would be left in the dye bath for days and may have been submerged up to 8 - 10 times a day.

In traditional batik, the second color applied was a brown color called soga. The color could range from light yellow to a dark brown. The dye came from the bark of the Soga tree. Another color that was traditionally used was a dark red color called mengkuda. This dye was created from the leaves of the Morinda Citrifolia.

The final hue depended on how long the cloth was soaked in the dye bath and how often it was dipped. Skilled artisans can create many variations of these traditional colors. Aside from blue, green would be achieved by mixing blue with yellow; purple was obtained by mixing blue and red. The soga brown color mixed with indigo would produce a dark blue - black color.

Design Process
The outline of the pattern is blocked out onto the cloth, traditionally with charcoal or graphite. Traditional batik designs utilize patterns handed down over the generations. It is very seldom that an artisan is so skilled that he can work from memory and would not need to draw an outline of the pattern before applying the wax. Often designs are traced from stencils or patterns called pola. Another method of tracing a pattern onto a cloth is by laying the cloth on a glass table that is illuminated from below which casts a shadow of the pattern onto the cloth. The shadow is then traced with a pencil. In large batik factories today, men usually are in charge of drawing the patterns onto the cloth.

Once the design is drawn out onto the cloth it is then ready to be waxed. Wax is applied to the cloth over the areas of the design that the artisan wishes to remain the original color of the cloth. Normally this is white or cream.

Female workers sit on a low stool or on a mat to apply the wax with a canting. The fabric that they are working on is draped over light bamboo frames called gawangan to allow the freshly applied wax to cool and harden. The wax is heated in the wajan until it is of the desired consistency. The artisan then dips her canting into the wax to fill the bowl of the canting.

Artisans use the wax to retrace the pencil outline on the fabric. A small drop cloth is kept on the woman. s lap to protect her from hot dripping wax. The stem of the canting is held with the right hand in a horizontal position to prevent any accidental spillage, which greatly reduces the value of the final cloth. The left hand is placed behind the fabric for support. The spout does not touch the fabric, but it held just above the area the artisan is working on. To ensure the pattern is well defined, batik is waxed on both sides. True tulis batik is reversible, as the pattern should be identical on both sides.

The most experienced artisans normally do first waxings. Filling in of large areas may be entrusted to less experienced artisans. Mistakes are very difficult to correct. If wax is accidentally spilt on the cloth, the artisan will try to remove the unwanted wax by sponging it with hot water. Then a heated iron rod with a curved end is used to try and lift off the remaining wax. Spilled wax can never be completely removed so it is imperative that the artisans are very careful.

If the cap method is utilized, this procedure is normally done by men. The cap are dipped into melted wax. Just under the surface of the melted wax is a folded cloth approximately 30 centimeters square. When this cloth is saturated with wax it acts like a stamp pad. The cap is pressed into the fabric until the design side of the cap is coated with wax. The saturated cap is then stamped onto the fabric, leaving the design of the cap. This process is repeated until the entire cloth is covered. Often cap and canting methods are combined on the same piece of cloth.

Better quality batik may be waxed utilizing canting in one part of Indonesia and then sent to another part of Indonesia where the cap part of the process is completed. On better quality cap fabric great care is taken to match the pattern exactly. Lower grade batik is characterized by overlapping lines or lightened colored lines indicating the cap was not applied correctly.

After the initial wax has been applied, the fabric is ready for the first dye bath. Traditionally dying was done in earthenware tubs. Today most batik factories use large concrete vats. Above the vats are ropes with pulleys that the fabric is draped over after it has been dipped into the dye bath.

The waxed fabric is immersed in the dye bath of the first color. The amount of time it is left in the bath determines the hue of the color; darker colors require longer periods or numerous immersions. The fabric is then put into a cold water bath to harden the wax.

Dye BathWhen the desired color has been achieved and the fabric has dried, wax is reapplied over the areas that the artisan wishes to maintain the first dye color or another color at a later stage in the dying process.

When an area that has been covered with wax previously needs to be exposed so that it can be dyed, the applied wax is scraped away with a small knife. The area is then sponged with hot water and resized with rice starch before it is re-immersed in the subsequent dye bath.

If a marble effect is desired, the wax is intentionally cracked before being placed in the dye bath. The dye seeps into the tiny cracks that create the fine lines that are characteristic of batik. Traditionally, cracks were a sign of inferior cloth especially on indigo color batik. On brown batik, however, the marble effect was accepted.

The number of colors in batik represents how many times it was immersed in the dye bath and how many times wax had to be applied and removed. A multicolored batik represents a lot more work that a single or two - color piece. Numerous dye processes are usually reflected in the price of the cloth. Nowadays, chemical dyes have pretty much replaced traditional dyes, so colors are endless and much more liberally used.

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