A great culture comes with an equally amazing apparel. The Chinese has silk, the Japanese the kimono, the Indonesian the Batik. Batik in Indonesia predates written record and is an ancient art form.
Batik are normally used in traditional cultural wear and official national costumes. However, in recent years, the economical varieties are beginning to emerge in household articles. The Batik is one of those garments which are best suited to the heat and humidity of the tropical countries. A good piece of Batik can cost as much as thousands of dollars (batik tulis halus) while a more common one is probably a few dollars.
Having grown up in Indonesia, I am very familiar with this type of clothing. Common people wear the casual clothing at home while the official or dignitaries will wear them at official function. Of course the styles and quality will differ. Nonetheless, they are all batik.
It is handmade using wax resistant dyeing technique.
It may be made using cotton or silk.
It is usually made in Yogyakarta or Surakata (both in Java).
Javanese batik has special meanings rooted to the universe.
Traditionally in indigo, dark brown and white which represent the 3 Hindu Gods.
Patterns may also denote royal lineage of a person and his status in life.
Have no idea what Batik is about? Well, have you seen those air-stewardess from Singapore Airlines at the airports or on board your flights? Yes, that's a uniform made with Batik cloth. Batik is very popular in most South East Asian countries and even spread to as far as South Africa. Nelson Mandela has worn Batik on many occasions, if you may recall. The late mother of President Obama is also an avid collector of Batik.
So, yes, Batik is indeed a worthy art form and yet a most versatile fabric every common people can afford and own.
P.S. When washing Batik for the first time, make sure you soak it in salt water or water mixed with vinegar for at least an hour to prevent the color from running as some of the cheaper Batik has a tendency for its dye to run and stain other clothing. Never mixed batik with light fabrics.
Batik is fabric which is made in Indonesia and other South East Asian countries. It uses the hand written wax resist dyeing technique to render patterns and colors on the cloth material which may be cotton or silk.
Traditional Batik are from Yogyakarta and Surakarta and the designs have special meanings rooted to the Javanese concept of the Universe. Colors are usually in indigo, dark brown and white which represents the 3 major Hindu Gods (Brahma, Visnu & Siva). Certain patterns are only worn by nobility and indicates certain ranking and status in life.
Batik are also found in Asian countries like Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Burma, India, Sri Lanka and Singapore.