Wax resist dyeing of fabric is an ancient art form.
It already existed in Egypt in the 4th century BC, where it was used to wrap mummies; linen was soaked in wax, and scratched using a stylus. Sutjipto believe Indonesian batik is a native tradition, since another regions in Indonesia such as Toraja, Flores, Halmahera, and Papua, which were not directly influenced by Hinduism, have an age-old tradition of batik making.
The art of batik is most highly developed in the island of Java in Indonesia. The carving details of clothes worn by East Javanese Prajnaparamita statues from around the 13th century show intricate floral patterns within rounded margins, similar to today's traditional Javanese jlamprang or ceplok batik motif.
In Java, all the materials for the process are readily available — cotton and beeswax and plants from which different vegetable dyes are made. The motif is thought to represent the lotus, a sacred flower in Hindu-Buddhist beliefs.
This evidence suggests that intricate batik fabric patterns applied with the canting existed in 13th-century Java or even earlier.
In Europe, the technique was described for the first time in the History of Java, published in London in 1817 by Stamford Raffles, who had been a British governor for Bengkulu, Sumatra.
In 1873 the Dutch merchant Van Rijckevorsel gave the pieces he collected during a trip to Indonesia to the ethnographic museum in Rotterdam.
Today the Tropenmuseum houses the biggest collection of Indonesian batik in the Netherlands.
The Dutch and Chinese colonists were active in developing batik, particularly coastal batik, in the late colonial era.
They introduced new patterns as well as the use of the cap (copper block stamps) to mass-produce batiks.
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