Indonesia has a rich textile tradition dating back many hundreds of years, and if there’s one fabric that’s found across all the archipelago’s thousands of islands, it’s batik. The repeating patterns worn across sarongs and shirts are a national symbol, while Javanese batik experts can deduce what city and social class an individual comes from by the pattern they are wearing. What Is Batik?
Batik is a type of cloth dyed using the wax-resist method: A pattern is painted on in wax, and then the cloth is dyed. Once the wax is melted off, blank areas are left. The cloth can be dyed over and over again with different patterns, creating incredibly complex designs. The best batik is still waxed by hand, with the most authentic produced using natural dyes, but the overwhelming majority of what you’ll find on sale is a factory product made with chemical dyes.
Ways to Experience Balinese Batik Art
Bali’s batik art tradition may not be as long as that of neighboring Java, but you can still experience this Indonesian art form on the island. Here are a few suggestions.
- Visit a workshop: Batubulan and Tohpati villages are home to a number of workshops where you can watch batik being produced.
- Get hands-on: The Arma Museum and Resort in Ubud offers 2-hour classes in Balinese batik, where you create your own designs using traditional Balinese motifs.
- Shop at a market: Klungkung Market has a stellar selection of batik, while you’ll find affordable machine-made batik at Ubud Traditional Art Market as well.
- Explore a boutique: Threads of Life in Ubud stocks rare, hand-made fabrics from across the archipelago.