The city of Cirebon is on the north coast of Central Java. It has a long history of batik production and is well known for their mix of colours and delicate bird and flower designs. Due to its historical trading patterns Cirebon batik has been influenced by (and has influenced) other areas of Asia in their textile design.
Tulis is the premium style of batik where the entire design is applied by hand using a tool called a canting (pronounced chanting). It is a pen-like instrument made from a small copper reservoir with a spout on a wooden handle. The reservoir holds the hot wax which flows through the spout.
The cloth is then dipped in dye or the colour is painted on. After the cloth is dry the wax is removed by boiling the cloth. The areas treated with wax keep their original colour. This process is repeated as many times depending how many colours are desired. The process can take days or even weeks for more complex designs and colours.
Batik Natural process
Beautiful soft tones as well as strong and vibrant colours are produced using only natural dyes. The process to produce strong colours that last is often a long one. It takes generations of local knowledge which is being lost with the popularity of chemical dyes.
The blue is made from indigo which is grown and harvested locally. It is first soaked in water mixed with lime powder. The lime reacts with the leaf and turns the water blue. It is them fermented for weeks to ensure the colour is strong and will remain in the cloth.
Red, yellow, brown, green and black are produced with various roots and leaves, sometimes mixed together for varying colour tones.