Batik the art of wax resist

A wax-resist process in which wax is used to cover the desired pattern area,
to obtain the design after dyeing and finishing.

She looked towards her new born baby boy as he lay in the cot and she began to tell him a story of a great dragon, a peacock, and the butterflies. And as he smiled, as if he understood every word she said, she painted the things that she spoke of - objects that she saw in her surrounding, yet these were symbols and motifs of life itself.

But this was no ordinary painting. She used a thin paint brush and dipped it into the beeswax and with small sturdy strokes painted it onto the fabric to create the picture that she had in mind.

Batik tracing and painting.

Batik is a Javanese term denoted for wax resist process. It dates back to 4th century B.C where the Egyptian mummies were wrapped in batik painted cloths. This beautiful craft spread to China and Japan but developed and popularized in Java. In India, Batik was first introduced in Shantiniketan by Rabindranath Tagore when he visited Java after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature and later on it spread to other parts of Bengal and other pockets of India.

The popular methods of batik are using a tjant – which is a pen-like instrument made of copper with a spout and a wooden handle. Batik may also be done with a tjap which is a copper block stamp. However, in contemporary times, wooden blocks, stencils, sponges or brushes are also used. Paraffin wax, beeswax or other resins may be used as a resist. Once the designs are printed, they are dyed and boiled to remove the wax. Batik may be done on fabric, leather or even paper!

Each piece of Batik is unique because it is meticulously hand-painted. This art is done in many countries like India, Indonesia, China, Japan, and Sri Lanka. The methods and motifs are as unique as the country in which it is produced. Batik in West Bengal, India is still widely produced in areas like Mecheda, Shantiniketan and Shrirampur.

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