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Pet Sins January 2009

Indian influences on East Asian and Southeast Asian fabric traditions

Indonesian batik fabric has become famous worldwide for the beautiful and complexity of its patterns. Batik is a Malayo-Indonesian word that has entered the English language as a generic term, refering to the wax-resist dyeing technique for creating patterns on fabric. According to popular tradition in the Malay world, the process for making batik was introduced from India.1 India is said to be the originator of batik.2 For a further exploration of this topic, visit the Australian Government exhibit Sari to Sarong: 500 years of Indian and Indonesian textile exchange, which explores the influence of Indian trade cloths on local fabric making in island Southeast Asia.

Shibori - the Japanese traditional art of tie-dyeing, stitch-dyeing, fold-dyeing and wrap-dyeing - has also been attributed to an Indian origin.3 As in the case of batik, indigenous creativity took an imported craft in new artistic directions.

The books listed in the sidebar mention the history of the export of batik textiles from India to other parts of Asia.

  1. "Many Traditions, One Strand" exhibit at the Asian Civilizations Museum
  2. India Crafts - Batik Arts
  3. Kyou no shibori, Indo to de au exhibit literature