Malaysian batik crafts, cloths and clothing

Batik wall hangings in a shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Batik maker in a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia museum.
Batik wall hangings in a shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Batik, the striking method of wax-resistant dyeing cloth for clothing or decoration, originated in parts of Indonesia, but is widely practiced and popular in Malaysia. Malaysian batik is known for its depictions of plants — lushly colorful, with highly evocative and impressionistic patterns of leaves and stems. Birds and butterflies also appear on Malaysian batik, and some artists do landscape-type work on their batik.

Malaysian batik has become important as a mode of dress in Malaysia. Although most of the population tends to wear either traditional (Indian or Muslim) clothing or typical Western fashions (jeans and t-shirts), batik clothing can be worn at more formal or celebratory occasions. Although batik originated elsewhere, its Malaysian form is quite revered and respected in its home country, and beloved by people all over the world for its beauty and even whimsy.

Batik as decoration

In addition to its use in sarongs and other clothing, batik can be used purely as decorative art. Many shops in Malaysia create lovely, original pieces of batik on cloth that is then framed and sold as wall art. With their wonderful swirls of color and varied color schemes, it is possible to find just the exact one that fits the room or space you are decorating.

One of the many batik books available
One of the many batik books available

Making your own batik

Of course, if you have the time and the creativity (hint: you do have the creativity!) you can make your own batik. There are several books that detail the supplies you’ll need and go through the processes of the craft of batik. These also generally offer ideas and inspirations and examples to help you refine your creative vision and make the batik that is most fun and fulfilling for you.

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