The word "batik" comes from Java, Indonesia, and means "printing in wax." In many Asian countries the art of decorating cloth in this way, using wax and dye, has been practised for centuries.
Batik-making uses a process of wax-resist printing where selected areas of the cloth are blocked out by brushing or drawing hot wax over them, and the cloth is then dyed. The parts covered in wax resist the dye and remain the original colour. This process of waxing and dyeing can be repeated to create more elaborate and colourful designs. After the final dyeing the wax is removed and the cloth is ready.
Over the past several decades, the traditional art of batik-making has grown in Sri Lanka and developed its own unique style. The beautiful batik clothes and wall hangings are popular with locals and tourists alike. Many of the designs used in wall hangings represent key traditions and symbols of the country's history and predominantly Buddhist culture. More modern designs are also available, using vibrant colours to create stunning effects.
Craftsmanship and quality – what to expect
All our Sri Lankan batiks are printed on 100% cotton fabrics using traditional methods and made by experienced batik craftsmen. The fact that each one is made by hand makes each one unique and occasional "imperfections" are part of their charm. The intricate designs and beautiful use of colour makes these batik wall hangings truly desirable yet very affordable decorative arts.
One of the most characteristic features of a batik - the network of fine lines throughout the background - is a result of the manner in which it is made. This network is caused by the cracking of the wax resist as it dries and shrinks, or when the cloth is wrinkled or bent. The dye gets into the cracks and penetrates the fibre of the cloth when it is dyed, leaving a print of cracks or wrinkles when the wax is removed. Experienced batik craftsmen use this network of lines to their advantage to enhance the overall appearance of the design.
How to display your batik
There are many ways of displaying your batik wall hanging, but to get the best effect we suggest wrapping the edges of the batik around a wooden backing frame which provides a clean shape and lifts it slightly away from the wall to create depth.
Alternatively, for a more unusual and stunning effect, try lighting your batik from behind, either with an artificial light or by hanging it at a window. For those batiks with bright and contrasting colours this can create a vibrant and dramatic effect.
Many of the batiks are reversible and can be displayed on either side, according to your personal preference.