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Chinese Batik Art

"Batik is a traditional folk craftwork that has been handed down from generation to generation in China's southwest area. It is a way of dyeing cloth after it is coated with wax. Some of the designs on these batiks are bold, while others are fine and smooth 
  
Batik, as one of the most ancient handworks, has been appreciated as a part of ancient Chinese civilization since the foundation of dyeing and weaving technology in China. It is a traditional Chinese folk art which combines painting and dyeing.

The history of batik can be traced back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). Batik used to be popular both in Central and Southwest China. Somehow the batik technique was lost in Central China, but it has been handed down from generation to generation among the ethnic people in Guizhou, a province in Southwest China. Nobody knows how batik was invented, but there are batiks based on the finds in the Mawangdui tomb, which belonged to a noblewoman called Xing Zhui of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), which was excavated in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province, in 1972. Today, a large number of artists have used the traditional art of batik-making in innovative and modern works. They have introduced new themes and have included more cultural and social messages - adding issues and concepts from the modern era to the long line of batik storytelling.

Batik, also known as laran or wax printing, is a form of dyeing or printing folk art made by applying beeswax to create different shapes. The cloth is generally dyed with indigo, and when the wax is removed with hot water, the images appear. Indigo is used chiefly for the basic cloth throughout Guizhou to give dark blues. A paste is made from the harvested plants which have been soaked in a wooden barrel.

Today you can still find batik being done by the ethnic people in Guizhou Province, in the South-West of China. Here the Miao, Gejia and Bouyei girls are highly skilled at batik. They use very finely drawn circular and double spiral designs representing the horns of the water buffalo, symbolizing their ancestor's life and death. Girls start learning to produce batik from the age of 6 and 7 years. The finest work is found on baby carriers, sleeves of their jackets and skirts. The more traditional designs are geometric, where the most skilled wax resist reads as a fine blue line on a white ground. With the influence of the Han Chinese more figurative designs like flowers, birds, fish have been introduced over the centuries.

Batik cloth can be made into garments, scarves, bags, table-cloths, bedspreads, curtains, and other decorative items. However, because the raw material for batik is pure cotton cloth, care must be taken in maintenance to prevent moisture and erosion of the batik cloth in case of mildew-caused worm. Were it bought for use of collection (not for decoration), timely regular exposure to sun is requested. Batik may be washed with water at any time, but do remember not to use cleanser during the washing process in case

of depigmentation, nor use washer in case of damage to the edges because many dyeing paintings are made with edges as their outstanding superficial effects. Ironing may be permissible after washing. After buying the batik products, you may then begin to arrange mounting. At the same time, since batik is made from 100% pure cotton, it is the best choice for making clothes, quilt cover and bed-sheet. If used properly, batik can make your house or office unique and inviting. Batik shall be kept in clean, tidy, neat, dustless and regularly swept environment in the process of collection and maintenance.

 


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