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Sri Lanka is full of life and colour, and it is reflected in some of the native clothing styles such as Batik. Batik can be classified as an art and a craft. It is believed to be over 2000 years old. This ancient art of batik is alive and well in Sri Lanka. From classic styles to modern creations, you can find batik for everyone in Colombo.
The Batik Process
Each step is done by hand. First the drawing, usually by lead pencil on cotton cloth. Once the final design is drawn in, then comes the decision on what colour dyes and how many you will use before the next step.
Then the application of hot wax. The wax is melted in a heavy metal pot over a traditional wood fire or gas flame. Once the required areas are waxed in, the next step is mixing the selected dye colour.
When the right colour is mixed, the dyeing begins. It usually starts with the lightest colour first and the darker colour last and consists of a three-step process. After dying, the fabric is hung up to dry, usually in the tropical sun, much like laundry on a clothesline.
So here are a few places in Colombo for good quality batiks and handloom items. Their prices are moderate, but all of these places offer a range of collections to choose from.
Located at No 32, Ward Place, Colombo 07, Buddhi Batiks makes batik in a modern way. Designs are handmade with vibrant colours. Apart from sarees, they also offer a collection of dresses mostly suitable for evening parties. Buddhi Batiks has a unique take on saris and dresses. The Saris are beautiful and artistic.
Laksala located at No. 215, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, is one of Colombo’s most-liked tourist shops. The spacious 2-storey establishment is home to some beautiful paintings, wooden carvings, brass and silver figurines, gems & jewelry and some beautiful clothing. This is a really nice place to go look for a souvenir.
Located in 381/A Galle Road, Wellawatta, Roma Batik is another large shop where you can find all kinds of batik. Buy presents for everyone back home and get a bedspread or a scarf for windy days. There is batik for everyone at The Roma Batik.
Eric Suriyasena Batiks
Located at No. 57/1 Flower Road, Colombo 07, this is a true legend in the batik community. Eric Suriyasena has been recognized for his contributions to the Arts & Crafts industry in Sri Lanka. His batik creations have represented Sri Lanka in International Trade Fairs. As a designer, his luxurious sarees and fashionable casual wear grace the catwalks of Sri Lanka and other parts of the world.
Located at 113, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, it is considered the Heart of Sri Lankan Handicrafts. Traditional Sri Lankan Batiks (handmade) comprising gents’ shirts, sarongs, ladies’ wraparounds, dresses, scarves, handkerchiefs, beautiful wall hangings painted on cloth and velvet etc. The prices of the batik were often cheaper and more consistent than most other places.