From a historical perspective, printed cloth in the Malay peninsular came in the forms of batik pelangi (tie-dyed and stitch or bound resist) (see previous blog post) (from 1770s), wax resist and dye by hand traditional batik (from 1910s), chopped batik (1920s after the first world war) and “kain telepok” (dyed silk printed with gum treated wooden stamps and gold leafed). In the Malay Annals believed to have originated in the 18th century, a type of printed patterned cloth referred to as “kain serasah” had been mentioned whereby purportedly a local sultan had ordered his admiral to obtain the same from India.
In the 1950s, batik was introduced as an art form by Chuah Thean Teng, thus beginning a movement for batik painting with artists such as Ramli Malik, Khalil Ibrahim, Tay Mo-Leong, Fatimah Chik, Toya, Koay Soo Kau, Cheong Soo Pieng, Seah Kim Joo. Soon, commercial interests and a booming tourist trade ensured the popularity of batik chop into the array of batik products that could be found in Malaysia. Eventually, you would even find faux batik in the form of “batik digital” (digitally printed batik designs) and “batik skrin” (screen printed fabric with batik designs).
Today, Malaysia is most known for its “batik lukis” or hand drawn (with tjanting wax application) and hand dyed batik. This form of batik was first introduced in the 1960s eventually receiving support from the government as a recognized national craft. Malaysian batik lukis is distinctly elegant and artistic due to the free-form expression allowed in this technique with floral, geometric and abstract designs. Malaysian batik artisans today are skilled in a number of craft techniques, combining styles to produce a batik design “brand” is purely Malaysian.
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