Sunday, May 22, 2011

Natural Batik Village, Balok

Some friends visited us this week, so we took them out to the Natural Batik Village, where batik materials are produced, by hand, and local art crafts are produced and sold.  It is located in Kampung Balok, about a 15-minute drive north of Kuantan along the beach road.

Batik is the Malay word for the wax-resist dying technique for coloring cloths and producing cloth paintings.

An earlier post highlighted the Adina Batik shop in Kuantan, and the Natural Batik Village is one of the other two batik factories which is known to us.  To call it a factory, however, does not do the craft work justice.

At Natural Batik Village, teams of artists turn cotton and silk cloth into works of art, either for dress, wall hangings, paintings, or to be used in producing cenderamata (Malay for handicrafts) such as purses, bandannas, bed coverings and so forth.

Some designs are drawn free-hand, using copper canting (also known as tjanting) which enables a fix line of hot wax to be laid down.  The cloth is then dyed with only the waxed portion retaining the color covered by the wax.

Free Hand Design Using Canting

Artist Applying Dye
For a regular, consistent pattern of wax to be applied, copper blocks are dipped in hot wax and used to lay out the design.

Copper Block Used for a Consistent Pattern

Large Selection of Copper Blocks
Material for Clothing Undergoing Dye Process
The Natural Batik Village also provides classes for tourists and other who wish to learn the art of batik.  In addition to the production of batik cloth, there is a shop attached to the "factory" which sells a variety of batik material and Malaysian-produced crafts.

Batik Village Shop
Brilliant Colors...

Beach Wear...

Sensible Clothing...

And Souvenirs (Cenderamata)
Beside the main building housing the "factory" and shop are smaller shops selling an interesting array of items.  I was intrigued by some of the wooden carvings, which included a giant spider and shore birds.

Giant Carved Wooden Spider

Carved Wooden Shore Birds
The shops also had a collection of "Huh?" items for sale: things that one would not affiliate with a tourist souvenir and clothing shop.  My favorite was a brass cat door knocker that was probably produced to look ancient (and thus, more expensive).  There was also a large painting of a nude (European?) woman that was completely out-of-place.  Batik painting of village scene, batik painting of orchids, batik painting of scene from the Ramayana, LARGE EUROPEAN NUDE, Batik painting of a man fishing, .... The owner assured us that there had been TWO of such paintings and one was sold, so apparently there is (was) a market for that oddity.

Brass Cat Door Knocker
So, if you are touring through the Kuantan area, be sure to check out the Natural Batik Village.  It is only a few meters from the turn-off to the De Rhu resort road in the village of Balok.  Teak and his gang highly recommend it, just be aware that a European nude painting may surprise you!


  1. Malaysian Batik - an oxymoron? If Sukarno had done the right thing, Malaysia would be just another province of Indonesia :)

    1. How insensitive and malicious of you!

  2. Cultures within Asia and SE Asia borrow freely from the cultures surrounding them. I see no problem with that since it enriches everyone: a rising tide lifts all boats, even the half-sunken, neglected ones.

  3. Thank you for writing about us! This is our current website: