Batik: Southeast Asia and Batiks

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Batik influences throughout history

Batik is the art of wax resistance techniques applied to fabrics originating in South East Asia, on the north coast of the island of Java, Indonesia. Indonesian batik is unique and unequaled. Centuries ago, the demand for Indonesian batik skyrocketed, and Indonesian batik knock-offs were produced and sold throughout the trade routes to Asia, India, the Middle East, and Africa. To prevent the production of knock-offs, famous batik artists signed their work, which noted authentic ness of the piece (Drakeley 1997: 72). Batik has had a long-standing importance for the Indonesian people, representing their culture, history, and religion throughout centuries of outside influences from foreign cultures. The Hindu kingdom arrived in Indonesia, directed through trade routes, to spread the Hinduism, arriving around 200 BC (Zoetmulder 1982: 16). These trade routes were commonly used by merchants to trade foreign goods in exchange for new items to bring home. The Hindu culture left its mark on Indonesia, influencing its art, religious beliefs, and traditions. The batiks produced in Indonesia during this time are a reflection of the power the Hindu influences. A reoccurring symbol portrayed on Hindu and Buddhist influenced batiks is the lotus flower, paisley print, and the elephant. The elephant holds symbolic meaning of success in Hindu beliefs. The Hindu influence during this time reflected the art that was produced by the people, and was considered the “Golden Age” of Indonesian history (Santosa 2003: 20). Buddhism arrived in Indonesia shortly after. This influence arrived during the 9th century, which gave way to themes of Buddhist and Hindu gods, and floral motifs on batik textiles. "In esoteric Buddhism, the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein, the lotus blossoms; that is why the Buddha sits on a lotus bloom." (Drakeley 1997: 72)

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