Batik is an ancient craft dating back at least 2,000 years. There is archaeological evidence of it in Egypt, Persia, India, China and Japan. It is believe that the first batik cloths in Indonesian derived from migrant influences in the 7th – 8th century AD. Especially in Java, a simple processing method called paster batik was developed. A starch paste resist was applied with stick and brushes to coarse cotton cloth or wooden fibres, resulting in material called “kain sambut”. The paste was made from cooked rice flour or fine crushed peanut mixed with lime. During the 12th-14th century, under the Majapahit empire, batik was developed with more sophistication, using beeswax mixed with resin to replace the rice flour paste. By the 14th century, the canting (pron “chun-thing”) came into common use. This is a light and thin copper tube mounted on a bamboo handle. The tube is dipped constantly into the hot wax to be applied with more precision and delicacy and allowing a serious of dots and lines to be applied. The term batik, which is thought to arise from the Indonesian word “bertitik”, (having dots), now became the normal terminology for the process.
Batik came to be worn not only as a sarong skirt, but also to cover the upper body, especially for women’s clothing. The traditional “selendang” (shawl or stole) was developed, and apart from its decorative purpose, was often used from many carrying purposes. At the same time, a long-sleeved batik bloused, known as kebaya, became the normal costume for Javanese women. The kebaya ranges in length from mid-hip to knee-lenght. Early kebayas showed a Chinese influence and had a high Chinese collar. Later European influence let to the addition of lace and other embroidered materials. (this article was taken from “Notes about Batik”, by Isti Monfries).