Malaysia. Remember tie dying T-shirts using rubber bands and wild, bold colors? Well this gentleman in the photo is practicing the centuries old art of batik. Cloth is hand coated with removable wax and then dyed much like tie dying, with beautiful, intricate patterns and colors.
Batik has worldwide popularity (Obama’s late mother was an avid collector) and is designated a Masterpiece of Intangible Humanity by UNESCO, the World Heritage folks (a masterpiece of what??? Basically non material art forms including dance, language and sports). Since I have never heard of this designation, I wondered what else were called Masterpieces.
An interesting cross section of activities, it turns out represent our traditions and habits. Carpet weaving in Azerbaijan, the Royal Ballet in Cambodia, the Bejing Opera, Tightrope Walking in South Korea, Falconry in Belgium and of course, as we now know, Batik in Southeast Asia. All designated Masterpieces. Very interesting.
But back to batik. As an important part of various cultures, Indonesian officials ask government employees wear batik on Fridays; Singapore and Malaysian Airlines have batik as part of the flight attendants uniform and Nelson Mandela wears batik on formal occasions. So I am researching taking a batik class and looking at samples of batik on line. It just adds to my whole new world. What fun!