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Batik painting studios can be found throughout the city of Yogyakarta, normally combined with adjoining gift shops that sell the finished batik products such as shirts, sarongs and framed cloths.

I visited two different batik painting studios along Jalan Sido Mukti near the entrance to the Sultan's Palace in Yogyakarta.


Batik painting has an aesthetic quality printed all over it. This traditional method of making decorative cloths has reigned in Indonesia and Malaysia for centuries. Witnessing the process of painting a piece of cloth into an exquisite art that has won the world over is something that you should do when visiting this historical city.

Batik painting is very artistic, crafty and personalised. By that, I mean batik is mostly hand-painted and is not mass-produced in a factory far, far away (read: Nike shirts). Although, in parts of Malaysia, I do know about the need to utilise blocks of batik prints for the mass market. While there isn't anything particularly wrong with such fact, the aesthetic quality between painted and printed batik should differ greatly, in term of appearance and pricing.

In Yogyakarta, one could witness the painting process up close. Liquid hot wax will be poured into a pencil-like equipment called canting or tjanting (pronounced like "chanting"). The tjanting is then used to draw shapes and motifs on a piece of empty cloth, normally white in colour, on which the hot wax will take form into the intended hand movement. Normally, the motifs used on the drawing are derived from natural objects such as plants, leaves, birds, etc.

After a while, the wax will solidify into a subtle border, in which colourful inks will be poured in. The wax will ensure that the inks will stay within the enclosure to get the intended effect of the original drawing. After the inks dry, the piece of cloth will be dipped into boiling water to remove the wax. As a result, you will get the shapes and motifs of the original drawing transformed into the now ready-to-use batik cloth.

If wearing such delicate arts as your beach-party sarongs or formal dinner shirts is not your cup of tea, worry not. There are also framed batik paintings available through the city. These frames can easily be hung on your walls with batik drawing of your choice.

Something that you need to experience while in Yogyakarta. Just be wary of unscrupulous tourist guides who may try to solicit you to purchase at selected gift shops for personal commission.

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