I admit that these pictures are not my everyday life looks like. But, these pictures show the face of those who struggle to conserve our county culture everyday.
Batik is one of treasures, cultural treasures of Indonesia. Batik is recognized as national outfit and now used widely on the country. Civil servants and workers is obligated to wear Batik for a certain days of their work day. Some occupations even make Batik as it’s uniform such as stewardess. Batik is the pride of Indonesia.
So many style and technique has been found to enhance batik. It is no longer a traditional cloth. It is also no longer a national formal outfit to attend office work, business meeting, or party invitation anymore. It is one of the fashion and can be used in all kind of occasion on all kind of cloth type. It has many styles: traditional style, young style, and modern style. Even the abstract one has come to the surface in the last few years using mathematical equation called Fractal Batik. It is also used not just as cloth but also as bag and wallet’s motive, sandals, curtains, sheets, and even just a decoration.
The National Batik Day is 02 Oktober. It is often celebrated by people by wearing batik outfit for the whole day.
But for them, the craftsmen in the pictures, all of mentioned above doesn’t matter very much. Batik is mostly produced countryside far from city by a group of villager. They usually form a Small Medium Enterpise aka UKM (Usaha Kecil Menengah). Their handmade batik is bought by a wholesaler or distributor for cheap. The products then move from one distributor to another until it reaches some big shop or mall. The price of course highly increased BUT in the end, the one who made it, SME craftsmen, got none from this value raising. They can’t developed much because of this system and their distance from the city. And they don’t have the motivation and method to to so. They satisfied just for the way they are.
The other problem is production method. High quality batik is made by hand: handmade. But, nowadays there is technique that use machinery to produce it. It is called Printing Batik. Just like the name, the method use printer to print batik pattern in a piece of fabric. It can be mass produced for a very cheap cost.
But, this is just plain wrong. It should be noted that Batik is not (just) about the motive. It is the technique to draw or paint the motive by hand and canting. It is the way of life (maybe). The entrepreneur who developed Printing Batik just killing the very villager who conserve the culture. They mass-produced low quality “batik” cloth with a slightly cheap price. They eat business area from the SME craftsmen. They not even try to conserve the culture of batik.
There is more than that. Indonesia is a vast country. Batik is just one of who-know-how-many of Indonesian traditional clothing. The other most well-known one is Tapis, Ulos, and Songket. It is a very valuable art.
Unfortunately, batik is our only golden child. The rest is not either popular nor have attention. The craftsmen or SME who produced it got worse condition from the one who produce batik. To make thing worse, batik comes from Java Island where most of Indonesian market and civilization is concentrated. It is supported by government too (which is mostly of course from Java Island). This non-batik cultures with the same richness which comes from another island just don’t have a place. Too far from country center is too far. It’s conservationist is just a few. Some of the culture is so expensive and hard to find or even near extinction.
And this is where these craftsmen’s life and my life crossed path. I and my friends come up with a solution to help the craftsmen promote their goods and to popularize the traditional clothing from all culture in Indonesia. Not just batik, but all kind of Indonesian proud clothing. We intend to promote it internatially of course. That is our ambition. But let’s take things step by step slowly.
We build a start-up company named Sandang Indonesia. Literally, it means “Indonesia’s clothing”. The company holds a site www.sandangindonesia.com which host a blog to give information about Indonesian culture especially the traditional cloth. The site is launched (read: announced) to public last week on September 14th, 2012. The blog serves as a catalog to the vast culture of Indonesia.
We also have a eCommerce. We will reach those UKM that far from city and the products’ is hard to propagate. We will encourage them to use technology such as internet (yeah, most of them knows little technology or even afraid of it) and train them ourselves if necessary. On our site, we will promote their goods FOR FREE. They will join the eCommerce and input their goods themselves (including the price). We involve the SME in our business process so that they can accostumed to technology and online marketing themselves. Then, people can buy the SME’s goods directly from the www.sandangindonesia.com eCommerce (just like standar eCommerce). In this way, we cut the distribution line short and the rest is Bussiness (the SME craftsmen) to Customer direct interaction.
We admit that eCommerce is not popular yet for Indonesian people. But in the last few year, our people slowly have the courage to buy something online. We hope this simple technology can help the SME craftsmen to get a higher position than they already are, Internationally.
October the 2nd, coincide with National Batik Day, the online shop of www.SandangIndonesia.com will be open to public. And then, the SME’s product will be ready to bought and delivered to any point in Indonesia.
We hope you support us. Even you are not an Indonesian,
please visit our site http://www.sandangindonesia.com
and our Facebook fan page http://www.facebook.com/sandangindonesia
and give your support (like, comment, critique, or whatever that can motivate us further).
I am sorry for the inconvenience of language presented because we are not ready for International release yet, so just bear with Indonesian language or Google Translate. 😀
Thank you very much, and see you on the next Weekly Photo Challenge and on the National Batik Day (2nd Oktober).
The photos above was taken from one SME on Gunung Kidul, Jogjakarta and Cawas, Klaten, Central Java, when we visit the SME.
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