Oxford dictionary refers batik as :
- a method (originally used in Java) of producing colored designs on textiles by dyeing them, having first applied wax to the parts to be left undyed; and
- cloth that has been dyed using the batik method.
Batik is a piece of cloth - a piece of cloth made in the traditional manner and used especially in the traditional context – carrying various ornaments of a specific nature (batik ornaments) applied by means of a dye-resist technique using "batik-wax" as the resisting medium. Thus, a piece of cloth may be called batik when it has involved these two basic elements: resist-dyeing with wax and diverse designs specific to batik.
Batik-wax is used in the batik process to cover ornamentation to keep it free from coloring matter during the dyeing process. Batik-wax is a mixture of seven ingredients, namely paraffin, beeswax (kote), residue of pine-gum distillation (gondorukem), cat's-eye resin (damar), microwax, recycled wax (lilin gladhagan), and coconut oil or animal fat. With the exception of microwax, all ingredients are available in the Indonesia.
There are three types of batik-wax, namely lilin klowong for drawing the principal lines of the design (nglowong) and filling them in (ngisen-iseni), lilin tembokan for blocking out areas to remain white (nembok), and lilin biron for covering blue-dyed areas (mbironi). Each type is used for a specific step in the process. There are, in addition, lilin tubs and lilin cap, based on the wax-application process. Lilin tulis is employed in hand-drawn batik, using a writing stylus known as canthing tubs (Fig. 1) which is believed to have been invented within the sphere of the Mataram court in the 17th century. Lilin cap, meanwhile, comes into play with stamp-waxed batik through the use of a design-stamp known as canthing cap (Fig. 2), which became available of the .19th century.
The most suitable material for making batik cloth is fabric woven from natural fibers: cotton, silk, viscose, and so forth. However, as a result of technological progress, batik can now also be worked on cloth woven from synthetic fibers.