MY TRAVEL PLANACCOMMODATIONtrips & activitiesevents

Made in The Gambia: Batik

My Magazine 2023/01
4 min
Batik is a traditional technique of dyeing the material using wax to create various patterns.

The process can be complicated when using more than one dye colour to create complex designs, as layers of wax must be removed and reapplied to achieve the wanted design. 

The technique originates in Indonesia, from where it spread around the world with the influence of trade or cultural exchange. In The Gambia, it was traditionally mainly used to dye materials for ceremonial dresses. The batik dyeing technique was common and appreciated before industrially dyed materials overflowed the markets. The skills of batik dyeing were always associated with the Serahule ethnic group and passed from one generation to another. Today, only a few people still pursue these skills, which was one of the main reasons for Musa to revive the tradition and start training for Gambian youth and visitors of The Gambia. 

My Gambia team joined the workshop held by Musa, who is behind all batik-dyed materials used in costume design for the movie The Woman King, which was released in September 2022. He was happy to share the process with us. 

First, we measured and cut the white material, which we later dyed. It is best to use 100% cotton as it soaks in the dye the best. Using a pencil or charcoal, we sketched a pattern or design of our choice - a flower. We melted candle wax in a metal cup over the charcoal burner. We applied it with the brush (some also use a drawing tool called genti), creating a middle-sized line. 

Once the wax had dried and hardened, it was time to prepare the dye. The dye can usually be bought as a powder, so it needs to be mixed with hot water, which we heated on the charcoal burner in a clean pot. After we mixed the dye, we allowed it to cool down to avoid melting the wax, which could destroy the pattern. 

We sank the white cloth with a pattern inside when the dye cooled down and let the dye soak in. Then we hung the fabric and allowed it to dry completely. We then washed the material in hot water to allow the wax to melt, leaving a clean pattern to show. The last part of the process was allowing the material to dry again while we were able to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal with Musa and his family. 

When creating multi-coloured patterns, one should always start with bright colours first (yellow, orange, red), followed by darker colours. It is very time-consuming as every colour layer must dry first before washing it out with hot water and moving to the next colour. 

Interested in participating? Attend the workshop with Musa and create your unique Gambian souvenir. 



This article is proudly sponsored by APS International

Did you enjoy this article? Share it with friends >>>

Shea Butter - common home remedy in Gambian household
The famous New Year’s hunting masking tradition in Banjul


Subscribe To Our Magazine
No spam, notifications only about new issues.
Subscription Form za Mailerlite - landing
Subscribe To Our Magazine
No spam, notifications only about new issues.
Subscription Form za Mailerlite - landing

Other articles

Trip of the month: Overnight village experience in Ndemban
A homestay in Ndemban village is a great way to experience the local culture and way of life. It typically involves staying with a local family in the...
Volunteer in health professions
Are you looking for something more than just a regular vacation in an all-inclusive hotel offer? Would you like to experience real life and return hom...
Weather in January
January is yet another winter month in The Gambia. But this doesn't mean cold—just the opposite. Maximum temperatures can still reach above 30°C al...
Yosh Restaurant offers new menu creations
Known for its offer of an exotic fusion of food, Yosh Restaurant in Fajara is now delighting its guests with new creations on the menu. A wide selecti...
©MyGambia 2023
error: Alert: Our content is protected!

My Gambia Team

Typically replies within 30 minutes

We will be back soon.

Hey there 👋
We are here to help. What can I do for you?
Start Chat with us