Batik, is one of Indonesia’s most beloved and prized cultural heritage. Hailing from Java, the art of batik refers to a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, or cloth made using this technique.
For its significance in Indonesia’s culture and history, The UNESCO has even officially recognized batik as a unique hallmark of Indonesia’s heritage to add shadow puppets, and keris, the traditional dagger as aspects of the country’s cultural heritage. Although not customary, many offices has unofficially made Friday as Batik day, as their employees are encouraged to wear their most favourite Batik to work.
In the wake of the much celebrated Batik Day celebrated on every 2 October, many celebrate it in unique ways. One with the most creative edge was what Grand Mercure Kemayoran did for 3 days, from 4th to 6th of October 2016, where a complimentary ‘membatik’ class was held for any visitors and hotel guests to participate.
What’s New Jakarta recently took part of the activity, and gained some fascinating insights about the art of Batik. Traditionally, Batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a canting or by printing the resist with a copper stamp, also known as ‘cap’.
The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colours are desired.
This traditional way, is the most authentic way of making batik, which results will set you back hundreds of thousands of rupiah, or even millions for a piece of design. This is what differentiate the premium batiks, and the cheap factory-grade ‘batik’ design that is printed using regular garment printing methods to press its production costs.
If you’ve only seen batik being made by skilled hands of professional batik painters, it might look simple, as a lot of time, it is ‘just’ tracing. But from scooping the malam or wax (a mixture of wax and spices) to the canting, to the drawing process on the cloth, the process takes a lot of care and dexterity. I had a lot of trouble even just to keep the wax from dripping all over the place! After several tries, I finally got the hang of it, although it’s nothing like how the skilled instructors swirl around with their cantings.
The best part was, after I was done with my batik, I got to take home my batik drawing results as a souvenir! How cool is that?
We’d like to thank Grand Mercure Kemayoran to give us the opportunity to learn the magnificent art of Batik making!
Superblok Mega Kemayoran, Jl. H Benyamin Sueb Kav B6, Kota Baru Bandar Kemayoran, Central Jakarta
Phone: (021) 22601111