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Quick History On Batiks

The ancient history of textiles tends to be sketchy because fabrics disintegrate in time and from weather. The exact origins of batik are uncertain. Fragments, probably of Indian origin, have been found in first century Egyptian tombs. One theory is that batik existed - and may have originated - in Asia and then spread to the Malaysian area. Examples of eighth century batik screens, probably Chinese, are preserved in Japan's Nara Museum.

Whatever its origin, batik was a highly accomplished art form in Java and Bali by the thirteenth century as a pastime for fine ladies. The hand decorated fabrics first appeared in costumes of the aristocracy and were soon used in clothing worn by the entire court.

Specific, readily recognizable motifs, patterns and colors developed. Often one design identified one family or an area. Javanese batiks were soon introduced to Europe where industrialists attempted to produce imitation batiks on a large scale, but found the cost prohibitive.

Today, the trend is to decorate the fabric any way the artist envisions; to apply design by any method, traditional or innovative, and even depart from standard procedures. Batik today is used for clothing, hangings, furnishings, relief and stuffed sculpture. It is no longer considered a "pure" art but one which can be combined with other media and methods. The driving force for the artist is to apply the technique for the end desired, rather than allowing the technique to control the artist as an end in itself.
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