Each country has its own traditional crafts that have been passed on for centuries. Some are dying arts due to neglect, serious efforts are on to revive them. These skills are still preserved, practiced and produced. Malaysia’s Batik is one such traditional textile art. The Batik Sarongs of Malaysia which were once considered everyday wear have been replaced. Tastes have changed, today modern garments are preferred choice. The traditional textile art would have passed into oblivion but for the efforts that are on to preserve this knowledge. Kraftangan, government run schools of Malaysia include this traditional art in the curriculum.
Batikers today make elegant designs with cool crisp colors in traditional methods. In terms of print, color, designs you get a good variety. Flowers and leaves are most common motifs. You will hardly find human or animal forms, the reason being Islamic norms forbid human and animal motifs for decorations. Some batikers produce bright modern look which appeals more to the tourists. Women too are employed in the batik making process.
There are two types of Batiks in Malaysia: Hand drawn batik and Block printed Batik. The former one more time consuming and expensive and there is ‘uniqueness’ to it. Block printed technique is good for mass production.
Special tours are conducted for visiting tourists to get a glimpse of their working styles. With economic downturn many talented batikers had to shut down their shops, but increasing tourist interests in such traditional hand-stamped and block-printed batik fabrics keep them going. I once got a Batik fabric from a Malaysian blogger friend when we met up in Bangalore. Most of you may know her, she blogs at “Keats The Sunshine Girl”. These pictures are of that fabric which I got as gift.
So, now you know what to pack and wrap as gift for your loved ones back home when you tour Malaysia!