Elaborately patterned batik sarong from Malaysia
The elaborate pattern and vibrant colours of this Malaysian batik sarong would have required a great deal of skill to create and the finished garment would have been a status symbol for the wearer. The complex design features peacocks as well as other birds, butterflies and a variety of floral motifs. At least six different colours can be identified and each colour would require at least one new layer of wax to be applied to the fabric. The painstaking process would have been repeated many times to create a design this complex.
Batik is an intricate process that uses wax to ‘resist’ or block the dye in certain areas to create the pattern. The wax is usually applied using a small pen like tool that holds a small reservoir of wax that can be melted over a heat source to allow it to flow from the tip of the tool. A new application of wax has to be carried out for each colour and stage of the design. Precise lines are needed to create complex patterns and for the highest quality batik, the design would be drawn onto both sides of the cloth in perfect alignment. The characteristic ‘cracking’ of batik fabrics comes from the wax layer cracking slightly as the cloth is immersed in the dye bath.