The term “batik fabric” refers to a type of fabric that is originated from Indonesia. The fabric is dyed with special coloring that forms interesting motifs. Though its origin traces back to Indonesian culture, fabrics made with batik technique exist in several other countries in Asia. Indonesian batik fabrics, however, are the most well-known mainly due to the fact that they have existed for a longer period and that there are a lot more varieties in patterns, courtesy of a history of acculturation spanning for centuries. Indonesian batik fabrics are also popular thanks to the fact that they are made with pattern, technique, and workmanship quality that are more developed as compared with others. As a testament to this, in October 2009, Indonesian batik was officially designated a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.
In Indonesia itself, batik fabric is available in many forms and origins. As a matter of fact, within the country, batik fabrics are made distinctive based on the place they are made in. There are Javanese batik (of which there are two more subtypes: the inland and the coastal batik), Sumatran batik, Balinese batik, and Sundanese batik. Each has its own specific markers that set one apart from the others.
In terms of the process, a sheet of batik fabric started as a plain sheet at first. The cloth is then applied with a type of wax which covers it wholly. This wax prevents dye from coloring the entire surface of the cloth, making it possible for the artisan to employ selective dying method using a special tool (with spout on it, called canting) to draw patterns and motifs. A more modern method of making batik is through the use of a copper stamp to print motifs on the surface of the cloth (called cap). The word batik is of Javanese origin. Etymologically, the word supposedly consists of two root words: amba ‘to write´ and titik ‘dots’. The last syllable of the first word is taken and joined with the last syllable of the second word, forming a new word we all know today. Encyclopedia Britannica first recorded the word in 1880 but at the time the word was spelled as battik rather than the one with single letter L today. The pattern of the fabric reflects various influences of a variety of cultures that exist in Indonesia such as India, Islamic, Japanese, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese.