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Batik fashion

Batik Fashion Fabrics 1
Fabric History

Edited By Pauline Weston Thomas for


Batik Fashion Fabrics


Batik Fabric and Tie Dye Fabric

An Indonesian site visitor who sells batik fabric made in Indonesia sent me this information on batik fabrics and some batik fabric images.  The supplier link for these batik fabrics is at the bottom of this page.

Batik Fabrics & Garments

Batik fabric with frond patternBatik fabric is generally thought of as the most quintessentially Indonesian textile

Batik is an art form. Motifs of flowers, twinning plants, leaves buds, flowers, birds, butterflies, fish, insects and geometric forms are rich in symbolic association and variety. 

There are about three thousand recorded batik fabric patterns and many are considered to be antique fabric designs.

How Batik Craft Artists Make Batik FabricCanting tool

The patterns to be dyed into the cloth are drawn with a canting, a wooden 'pen' fitted with a reservoir for hot, and liquid wax.

In batik workshops, circles of women sit working at clothes draped over frames, and periodically replenish their supply of wax by dipping their canting into a central vat.  Some draw the art designs directly on the cloth from memory and others wax over faint charcoal lines.Batik fabric with motif pattern

This method of drawing patterns in wax on fine machine-woven cotton was practiced as a form of meditation by the female courtiers of Central Java. Traditionally, batik tulis (tulis means 'write' in Indonesian) is produced by women.

19th Century Batik Method

In the 19th century, the application of waxed patterns with a large copper stamp or cap saved the batik fashion industry from competition with cheap printed cloth.  You can still find these batik stamps sometimes in antique shops.

The semi-industrial nature of cap work allows it to be performed by men.  Batik motifs recall characters from the Hindu epics, plants, animals, sea creatures and gamelan melodies.

Batik fabric with leaf patternIn Surakarta rich creams and browns are juxtaposed with tinges of yellowish gold. 

White, undyed cloth is left to contrast with the sombre opulence of brown and blue dyes in Yogjakarta.

The colour palettes of the north coast were influenced by lively marine-trade and the textile traditions of the Chinese and Arab mercantile communities living in port and coastal towns.

The Symbolic Meaning of Batik Motifs

As in other fields of Javanese tradition the motifs of Batik material especially with older antique patterns symbolizes something.  This might be one of the reasons why people still adore batik fabrics up to present date.  Some of the Motifs are:

  1. Sido Mulyo

  2. Sido Dadi

  3. Satrio Wibowo

  4. Tikel Asmorodono

All these antique motifs have great meaning.  Just as with crystals and gem stones it is thought that the woman or man wearing batik fabrics bearing these motifs will be furnished with what she or he wears.

The Cities of Batik

Yogyakarta and Surakarta are the art centres of traditional antique designs of batiks, whilst the north coastal town of Pekalongan is the centre of more modern batiks, using more floral and birds motifs.

There are some well-known artists of batik design in Jogya and Surakarta, as well as some big batik manufacturers with famous trademarks.  The growing production of batik makes way to the establishment of mori (woven cotton fabrics) factories in Jogya and Central Java.  

The Batik Research Institute was founded in Jogya.

Tie and Dye

Tie and Dye is also a resist method of decorating fabric whereby material is tied or sewn in random or specific pattern arrangements sometimes using stitching which is removed after dyeing.  Wherever a resistance to the dye was leaves a pattern. These examples of tie dye fabric are from the same supplier.

Tie dye fabric Tie dye fabric

The effects are generally more random as the dye penetrates areas which are not tied or stitched. (Check back soon for a page on how to do the tie and dye craft.)

Batik fabric is ideal for making into clothes, especially ethnic influenced women's fashions and holiday wear.

Batik Contact in Indonesia

Images and text for this page were supplied by Ms Vita at There you can buy typical antique batik fabrics by the roll as well as a range of other Indonesian specialist products such as authentic coconut oil products and other craft goods of Indonesia. 

Please note we have no connection with this supplier and any goods you purchase from them are at your own risk.

Page Added 28 July 2006


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