The history of batik is not entirely clear. People all over the world have been decorating fabrics using the resist method for over 2,000 years. Early samples have been found in the Far East, Middle East and India. Samples have also been found in Turkey, China, Japan and West Africa.
It is generally accepted, however, that it is the island of Java in Indonesia that is the heartland of batik. Over centuries Indonesian artisans have been developing this ancient craft to its present day art form. The raw materials needed – cotton, beeswax, and the plants for making the dyes - indigo for blues and soga for browns - are all readily available on the island.
Batik was introduced to the Netherlands from Indonesia by the Dutch traders in the 1800’s, and thence to the rest of Europe, where it became very fashionable. Nowadays, although batik is still used in South East Asia for clothing, in Europe and America it is more often found in the form of paintings.
For more information on the history of batik, please visit the Batik Guild website at www.batikguild.org.uk