Malaysian batik sarongs: a study of tradition and change

Legino, R 2012, Malaysian batik sarongs: a study of tradition and change, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Art, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Malaysian batik sarongs: a study of tradition and change
Author(s) Legino, R
Year 2012
Abstract In Malaysia, batik sarongs were introduced from the Island of Java. The batik technique is a continuous tradition, which contributed new decorative techniques for fabric printing. Sarongs were adapted as common comfortable clothing and were suitable for the tropical climate.

Malaysian batik makers began to make their own sarongs to meet the demand of the local market and over time developed their own expression of the art form. Malaysian batik was influenced by its location, history and cultural diversity. The position of batik in art and culture was interrelated to the issues of cultural development in the country.

This research explores the preservation and maintenance of batik sarongs as an integral part of the textile cultural heritage. The specific focus of this study is on traditional batik sarongs produced in Malaysia with their design characteristics identified. The overview of related literature examined models of analysis of textiles − such as kimonos, shawls, saris and Javanese batik sarongs − to organize this research. These provided important interpretive tools for cataloguing the fabric designs.

Documents and pictures of batik sarongs were selected from the earliest records made by Malaysian and foreign writers. A diverse range of samples of Malaysian traditional batik sarongs were viewed, photographed and catalogued. They were gathered from personal collections, museums, and galleries in Malaysia. In addition, samples of Malay batik sarongs were sourced from museums and galleries in Singapore, Jakarta and Melbourne.

In this research, I was able to draw directly on my experience with Malay traditional batik sarongs, which I have worn every day and collected over the years. A digital camera and scanner were the primary tools used in documenting the batik motifs that came from drawings, slides, photographs or actual samples. The digital images were important in the process of tracing, which was aided by the use of Adobe Illustrator© software.

The drawings from the tracing were used to analyse the characteristics of design layout and motifs to show their complexity, influences and development. The photos and tracing method assisted in cataloguing batik archival data to be stored in cultural heritage organizations. These significant design influences have impacted on the clothing traditions and craft techniques in Malaysia. Moreover, the implementation of the national cultural policy identified key characteristics in Malaysian batik design, and promotes batik makers to adhere to design principles as a form of maintaining national heritage and to avoid disputes over cultural ownership.

The research recommends ways to study Malaysian traditional batik sarongs and improve the conservation quality, while safeguarding the textile heritage.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Art
Keyword(s) Malaysian batik sarong
Adobe Illustrator© tracing
sarong layout
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Created: Tue, 11 Dec 2012, 16:07:08 EST by Brett Fenton
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