Around 1930 the ‘real’ batik production started, stamping with wax directly on the fabric. Long before this production got started, Batik, especially from Java, was known and used in the area that is now Malaysia. The Malays learned the techniques and adopted the patterns from the Javanese.
Even today, elements of patterns from the Javanese textiles are continued and developed in many of the textiles that are produced by block printing as well as screen printing. Although the Javanese heritage is still visible, Malaysian producers have partly liberated themselves from it and developed their craft in new directions.
This can be seen in technique and design as well as in the development of new types of products.
The most popular motifs are leaves and flowers. Malaysian batiks depicting animals are rare because Islam norms forbid animal images as decoration. However, the butterfly theme is a common exception. Malaysian batik is also famous for its geometrical designs, such as spirals.
Malaysian batik fabrics do have an international edge because they have brighter hues and more versatile patterns than the illustrations of animals and humans which are common in the more mystic-influenced Indonesian batik. Malaysian batik design has its own identity due perhaps to the multi-cultural and ethnic diversity of the country, to its wide artistic perspective and its pool of very talented people in the fashion industry.
The Malaysian government is now endorsing Malaysian batik as a national dress to every level of the general population, by having local designers to create new batik designs which reflect the 1Malaysia idea.