Indonesian Batik has been designated by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of oral and Intangible heritage of humanity on 2 October 2009. As part of the agreement, UNESCO inisisted that the country preserve their heritage.
Batik is a cloth that is traditionally made by manual wax resist dying technique. Wax resist dyeing technique in fabric is an ancient art form which existed in Indonesia since the 6th - 7th century. Other records even believe that it is a native tradition first developed in remote islands around the archipelago.
In Indonesia there are two techniques to apply wax on the cloth:
1) Hand drawn "Batik Tulis"
"Tulis" means writing and therefore the technique of "Batik Tulis" refers to the process to apply wax on the cloth by hand drawing. This is the most ancient technique which usually is done by women. It requires a great artistique sense and care. The wax is applied by a pen like tool called "Canting" and is very time-consuming.
2) Hand stamped "Batik Cap"
"Cap" means stamped and therefore the technique of "Batik Cap" refers to the process to apply wax on the cloth by putting it onto pre-carved wooden or copper blocks before stamping the fabric. Handstamped Batik was developed by the Javanese in the 20th century and revolutionized batik production. By block printing - usually done by man - the wax onto the fabric, it became possible to mass-produce Batik much faster and in bigger quantities than by the "Batik Tulis" technique.
Unfortunately today most Indonesian refer Batik to a certain kind of pattern rather to a dying technique. In addition mass manufacturers produce clothes printed with Batik pattern not using the wax-resisted dying technique and sell them as Batik for very low prices. As a result the traditional Batik manufacturer can hardly compete with those printed equivilants. They rather focus on high end niche markets for devoted Batik collectors or produce very simple hand stamped Batik especially for the tourism market.
A lady is drawing the motives filings on the cloth by a penlike tool called "canting". Cantings are used in different degrees of subtleties. This lady draws the finest possible lines with a "Canting" in size 0.
A man doing hand stamped Batik which is also called "Batik Cap". They are made with copper blocks covered with hot wax before being stamped on the cloth.