So vibrant and full of “attitude”… Who can resist the charm of ethnic-style fabrics? Of course, they are able to lift any decor, even the less inspired one.

It would be more rigorous to speak about ethnic-inspiration-fabrics, if we look at magazines, blogs or Pinterest, but it is also truth that these prints retain designs, colors and patterns that go thousands years ago in the History.

Vía: Skonahem

Maybe you put all this fabrics under the label “tribal” or “Indian”. But in this post and subsequent posts we will discover and distinguish different ethnic prints, their stories, origins and why they keep proving so attractive for decorating today as centuries ago.

Batik from Indonesia, shibori from Japan, nomadic kilim, bogolan from Mali, ubiquitous ikat, pasley… all them fabrics that decorated palaces, traveled on camels, fascinated princesses… and marked forever both our tastes as the way we decorate our homes.

We started with batik fabrics. Coming soon we will see more ethnic-style fabrics

Via: Blasco & Blasco

Batik, Java Island (Indonesia), 2,000 years ago

To find the origin of batik we should look back thousands years, although the oldest traces that remain are the from the sixth century. His birthplace is an enigma but the island of Java (Indonesia) is accepted as his crib. The batik fabric began as an entertainment for princesses and aristocrats.

Today is still widely practiced in the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Thailand, Philippines, India … And these fabrics continue to fascinate us for their vibrant colors and amazing designs.

Vía: Serendipity Fabrics

Batik is a form of dyeing reservation. In this case beeswax is used. Formerly a small instrument made of copper filled with liquid wax with which it was drawn freehand on the canvas. In the nineteenth century artisans began to use copper stamps to apply the wax, which expedites the task and allowed them to reproduce the patterns.

When the wax is dry, the fabric is dyed, and waxed parties retain their original color, as they are protected. By repeating dyeing using dyes of other colors, the fascinating designs that we know are achieved. Many of these designs are supposed to have magical powers … Magic or not, batik is included by UNESCO on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Today the industrial process has been imposed but artisan workshops can still be found in many Asian countries. It is a living art as their designs are being used to make clothing and decorative items that have conquered worldwide.