Batik painting is an ancient art known to have been practised in ancient Egypt, where early variants of the technique were used in mummification. 

Other early examples of the craft were known in many parts of the world, including Tang Dynasty China, but the methods most associated with the batik we inherit today were developed within the Javanese cultures of Indonesia, and later passed in to Malay traditions, where it has developed its own colourful style and is popular both as a decorative art and a skilfully utilised medium for high fashion. 

The essential method of batik making involves the soaking of cloth, most usually silk or cotton, which are then tempered by gentle beating before the application of wax, often in traditional patterns using a variety of tools, or in the case of modernist designs, by highly skilled freehand application, as a barrier to dye absorption. 

The process is often repeated several times, masking out different successive areas of the cloth enabling repeat dying using different colours and building up complex patterns, colour overlays and highly stylised pictures, which have also become very popular with visitors. 

In contrast with the intricate, often dark hued traditional patternation of Indonesian Batik, which is still practised extensively today, modern Malaysian batik, though still available in more traditional forms, now utilises brighter and more shimmeringly vibrant colours, with a distinct contemporary edge. 

In the hands of adepts the resultant artworks are often strikingly beautiful, composed of highly reflective yet subtle hues, and modern exponents of the art create lush often brilliantly conceived designs that are highly sought after as fashion fabrics for use high end clothing and add also a touch of classy refinement to even the most elegant and fashionably modern homes, producing stunningly sumptuous contemporary curtains, cushions, coverings and artworks. 

If you have artistic flair, and wish to expand your repertoire, it is possible to study the art in several locations in Malaysia, where you can learn the techniques involved and even try your hand at making your own designs. 

Even if you don’t have the skills to create your own masterwork, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fun of experimentation, and a trip to a batik artist’s workshop can be a delightful place to spend some hours absorbed in this fascinating craft, and is also great fun for the kids if you travelling as a family.