History of Batik Art
The history of batik art, textile art that uses a wax-resist dying technique, is hard to trace precisely. There are different historical opinions of where it originated. The earliest examples of batik textiles are from the Middle East, Far East, Central Asia and India. Some of these examples date back as many as 2,000 years. West Africa also has a long history of using batik techniques, but these techniques also use cassava, rice paste and other resist materials in place of wax. It is unclear whether each region developed its own variety of batik art independently or if cultural exchanges through trade spread the batik techniques from one region to another.
Some experts assert that batik art originated on the Indonesian island of Java. This view is influenced in part by the fact that the word "batik" seems to have Javanese origins. Batik is also a national art form in Indonesia. There is some disagreement as to how batik textiles were used in ancient Javanese culture. Some scholars believe that batik prints were reserved exclusively for royalty and nobility. Others believe that creating batik textiles was an essential skill for all women regardless of social status. Most scholars agree, however, that different batik motifs had different significance and would be worn different occasions.
Throughout history, batik textiles have been used both for art and for fashion. Japanese batik screens from the Nara period (AD 710-794) are one example of artistic batiks. There are also ancient frescoes in India that depict head wraps and garments that suggest batik techniques. By the 17th century, batik textiles were heavily exported from Central and Eastern Asia. By the 19th century, Dutch factories were producing batik textiles. German created a way to mass-produce batiks in the early 1900s. Today, batik textiles are available all around the world and used as tapestries, clothing and in quilting and other crafts.