How Batik Block is Made?

Batik Kaftans using block tecnique.

You might be curious on how a batik block kaftan such as the above is made. I had the opportunity to visit one of the batik sheds in Terengganu earlier this year and thought to share it with other that might not have the chance such as me.

A batik block pattern or here we call it chop are first derived from the inspiration of pembatik (batik people). They would first thought of designs they would like to have, usually in flora and fauna. Then, they will commision a tukang tembaga (akin to steel smith but instead of steel they would use copper). This tukang would then used stripes of tembaga to fashion the design and affixed this design to a pemegang (handle). Copper is used as batik block will used copper to defined the design before colour are added either by hand or by immersing the cloths into specific colour dyes.

Butterfly Batik Block Patterns

Among the batik chop available, I really fancy this one. A very nice butterfly pattern, you can see the intricacies of the design.

Some of the pattern with wax used for the kaftan designs.
For a kaftan, usually only one batik chop is used. For sarongs (I will feature this later), at least two batik chop will be used. One for the main panel, the other used for the remainder of the fabric, usually another one would be used for the upper and bottom fringe of the sarong.

In the above picture as well you can see the wax holder. To used, the wax will be cooked until they are in their liquid form. The chop will be dipped around 1/2, shaken a bit to remove the excess wax and then applied to plain cloth. The work is hot and the workers need to be quick to ensure the wax does not harden or else, the pattern will not be smooth i.e. cracked etc.

After a period of time, these copper batik chop would be retired as the pattern is out of date with emergence of new patterns. Sometimes the pattern is retired as it has developed defects due to numerous time of being soak with boiling liquid wax and stamped on the cloth with force. It will then be returned to the coppersmith to be liquidated again and made into new batik chops. Sometimes, the owner would just preserve it akin to documenting their batik chop progress, similar to this batik shed owner. I hope he preserved them for a long time as it would be a rare item even extinct if we do not appreciate it now.