Patterns of various motifs produced with the "canting" hand-drawn technique on high-quality fabrics such as natural silk makes Malaysian batik more charming and elegant than stamped batik from other countries.
The delicate manufacturing process (repeated waxing, dip-dyeing, boiling) with the application of liquid wax patterns of flora, fauna and abstract motifs then dyed with colour, makes our batik heritage more aesthetic and permanently fresh, not jaded by time.
A descendant of the legacy of Terengganu batik artists, Wan Mohd Hafiz Wan Mohd Ariffin, said Malaysian batik needs to be preserved because it features better quality patterns and fabrics than similar products from Indonesia and China.
"Among the significant differences is that Terengganu painted batik is produced through the technique of pinning, using wax (as a resist to colour) with cloth stretched on a frame. Most Malaysian batik use natural silk which is more comfortable and cool on the skin.
"This technique also makes our painted batik more refined and beautiful than ordinary printed batik. Abstract motifs are the choice nowadays, but traditional motifs such as flora (climbing floral design) and fauna still have a grip on batik enthusiasts," the managing director of Noor Arfa Holdings Sdn Bhd told Bernama here today.
According to Wan Mohd Hafiz, along with the development of knowledge and culture, Malaysian batik is now not only produced using natural silk, but the variety has increased with the use of several other types of fabric such as cotton, crepe and polyester, thus giving consumers a wider choice.
"To apply the Syaria compliant concept in the production of men's áttire, for example, materials such as cotton fabric, crepe silk and Dubai crepe are used to replace the original silk fabric that is taboo for Muslim men.
"We personally met with the mufti to get an opinion on the law of 'hakam’. At first it felt like a waste because silk fabric is more expensive, but our priority is to ensure our customers are free of niggling worries," he said.
Wan Mohd Hafiz said the uniqueness of Malaysian batik also makes it more expensive, with some tagged at thousands of ringgit for exclusive batik categorised as 'high end' or 'masterpiece' products.
"There are also batik products that are cheap because they use more economical materials, which can sell for as low as RM35, depending on the intricacy," he said.
Meanwhile, Wan Mohd Hafiz said the government's move to make it mandatory for civil servants to wear batik every Thursday, reflects the determination to raise the dignity of the nation’s art heritage.
"The batik industry has been quite gloomy in the last few years... less than 100 batik entrepreneurs are still surviving in Terengganu. Now batik has become a fad again and the demand for products such as shirts, baju kurung and kain pasang (fabric) has increased up to three times.
"This government initiative should be commended and is very good, it was done at the right time to not only boost and re-colour the batik industry, but encourage economic generation through the small and medium enterprise sector," he said.
Meanwhile, a batik dealer in Pasar Payang, Norasiah Awang, 57, said since last week her shop was overrun by customers looking for batik shirts to wear to the office.
"So far I have sold about 300 pieces of batik shirts and kain pasang. Many shops are out of stock and waiting for new supplies from distributors," she said, elated because the batik industry was exalted with the government's initiative to wear patriotism on the sleeve.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency