What is Batik?

Batik means “to write with wax” in the local language Javanese.


Batik is a traditional Indonesian colouring process: The technique of wax-resist dyeing. The wax is applied in a specific pattern to the cloth and resist dyes. Therefore, it allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour and removing the wax with boiling water. As a result, the pattern stays white.


Many Indonesian batik patterns are symbolic. Infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and certain batik designs are reserved for brides and bridegrooms, as well as their families.


Since 2009, Indonesian Batik is inscribed on the representative list of UNESCO intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

It's important to differentiate between three different kinds of batik:


Batik Tulis is the original and most detailed of all batik kinds. Every line is hand-drawn with the traditional tool called "canting". It can take up to several months to create one cloth depending on how many colours are used and how detailed the patterns are.


Batik Cap was developed to apply wax to a big cloth more sufficiently. The artisan uses a stamp ("cap") out of copper with the desired pattern.


Batik Tekstil is the cheap imitate and can't really be called batik, since the patterns are machine-made.


Of course, Dewi bags are only made out of Batik Tulis and Batik Cap to ensure high quality and appreciate the cultural value of batik :)

"Nowadays, technology makes it possible to machine batik motives to the cloth. And while these do keep the patterns in the public eye, to us they are missing an essential ingredient...their soul."


- Batik Winotosastro

How is Batik made?

Step 1: Applying the wax

 Hot wax is applied to the cloth in the desired pattern. Either using the tool "canting" or "cap".


Canting = every line is drawn by hand.

Cap = the patterns are applied using a stamp.

Step 2: Colouring

During the colouring process the wax will stay on the cloth. As a result, the patterns will stay white after the wax has been removed. The wax resist the dyeing.

Step 3: Removing the wax


The fabric is being dipped into boiling hot water and stirred around. Through the heat the wax disengages itself from the fabric. As a result, the pattern stays white, while the rest of the fabric is coloured.

After the wax has been removed, it will be recycled and used again ♻

Click here to get a deeper insight.

More about batik

  • Blog post: Interview with Sabine Bolk, a Batik researcher and activist.
  • Blog post: Interview with Guave, a fair fashion label working with Batik.