The Indonesian government fully supports the cultural traditions and will continue to preserve them and give opportunities to the society to learn the traditions. Batik art particularly hand drawn batik is a noble artwork which needs to be preserved. The government is aware that various artworks in Indonesia will be marginalized sooner or later by the changing times.
In fact industrialization has already crushed many small enterprises of hand-drawn Batik in the villages. This has resulted in most hand-drawn Batik workers leaving home to join batik factories in the cities. Fortunately, some batik manufacturers continue to defend the existence off hand-drawn Batik. In Taman, a village which is not far from the Sultan of Yogyakarta’s palace, with nearly one third of the resident’s are batik makers, it is a popular attraction for foreign tourists coming from various countries every year. In the early 1970s hand-drawn Batik was still sought after by both foreign and domestic tourists. However, these days many foreign tourists no longer look for traditional batik motives but prefer souvenirs in the form of fans, wallets and paintings. The change in market demand has downsized the hand-drawn batik industry and traditional batik is slowly vanishing as a result of industrialization.
It is a dilemmatic to defend traditional culture if, on the other hand, one must earn enough to make ends meet. The regional government should inject a new spirit to fos- ter the culture of traditional batik especially in the production centers like Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Cirebon and Pekalongan.
The Indonesian Government actively encourages and supports the art of batik and with its increasing popularity and success in the western markets batik has become the icon of the country. The supports have been given to both government and inde- pendent cultural institutions that are concerned about Batik as the Cultural Heritage of Indonesia, such as:
- The Federation of Indonesian Batik Cooperatives ( GKBI )
- The Center for Handicrafts and Batik
- The Indonesian Batik Museum Institution
- The Textile Museum
Federation of Indonesian Batik Cooperatives (GKBI)
After World War II, Indonesian Batik production slowed down considerably due to the lack of raw materials until in 1948 the government of the new Republic of Indone- sia initiated the establishment of the Federation of Indonesian Batik Cooperatives in Yogyakarta in order to support batik producers. When in 1955 the government made special efforts to provide cheaper priced ‘stamped Batik’ for Indo- nesian people with lower incomes, GKBI got a subsidized price for plain cotton material (basic material for Batik). GKBI was also grant- ed the batik distribution monopoly.
Apparently, this became the golden age of Indonesian ‘stamped batik ‘era, where the artists, producers and batik companies alike enjoyed huge profits. However, in 1956 textiles from Europe and other countries began to enter the Indonesian market, resulting in a decline of Indonesian stamped batik, as people began to buy cheaper and modern designed imported textile. At the beginning of the 1970’s the technology of stamped batik textile emerged and developed, this was the time when hand-drawn Batik began to lose its market, especially among the younger generations. But unfor- tunately the Federation has been fading out and not functioning because the cooperatives which should have been its members do not exist anymore.
The Center for Handicrafts and Batik
The Center is a government institution located in Yogyakarta that provides and conducts research, standardization, training and workshops, technical services and consultancy for the enhancement of Batik arts and handicrafts industries. The Center was initially established in 1922 by the Dutch colonial government under the name of Inrichting en Batik Proefstation and in 1980 became the the Institute of Research and Development of Handicrafts and Batik. In 2002 it was re-established under the Agency for Research and Development, Ministry of Industry as The Center for Handicrafts and Batik.
The Center has the most complete library on books related to handicrafts and ba- tik with a 12.000 collection consisting of books, magazines and journals. It publishes a scientific journal entitled ‘The Dynamic of Crafts and Batik ’. To help the Batik artists design various motifs in a faster mode, the Center provides a computerized machine to make patterns customized to requests.
The Museum was officially opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on 12th of July 2006 in Pekalongan Central Java. The purpose of the establishment of the Museum is to expand Indonesian Batik industry to a world class level, by providing comprehensive data and information about Indonesian Batik, including raw and basic materials, additives, designs, motifs, production methods, distribution aspects, trade, support and services for domestic as well as tourism and exports. It is a manifestation of Indonesian Government serious efforts to preserve the Batik cultural heritage and to develop local people’s economy.
The Museum facilities include a conven- tion center for lectures, seminars and Batik fashion parades, and also for education and training. A gallery is provided for display and exhibition of a collection of around 300 batiks of various patterned batik cloths contributed by people from all over Indonesia. These col- lections are displayed in two exhibition rooms: the first exhibition room displays a collection of Pekalongan patterned batik cloths and northern coastal patterned batik cloths, and the second exhibition room displays Nusan- tara Batik cloths taken from other areas in Indonesia. The facilities of this gallery will soon be developed to meet international standards.
The establishment of the Pekalongan Batik Museum involved the collaboration of almost all related government institutions and Batik organizations in order to present a valuable cultural and economic center which would bring a lot of benefits to the In- donesian society. With the existence of the Batik Museum, the Indonesian people will be able to effectively struggle to obtain UNESCO’s acknowledgement for Batik arts as the Indonesian Cultural Heritage.
This museum is also furnished with storage and conservation rooms, a meeting room and a Batik Art Shop where visitors can buy various kinds of souvenirs made of batik such as old colonial Batik (which is not produced anymore by the batik manufac- turers) postcards, posters, paintings etc. A Batik catalog is also available for the visitors. In order to give complete information service, a library and information data room is going to be built in the near future.
The Textile Museum is located in Central Jakarta’s Tanah Abang area, closed to the oldest and biggest South East Asia textile market, in a European-style building, originally owned by a Frenchman in the 19th century. The building was then sold out and owned by several rich merchants, and finally in 1945 during the struggle for independence of Indonesia, this building was used as the base of the People’s Secu- rity Force. In 1952 the Department of Social Affairs bought the building and in 1975 The Batik Museum in Pekalongan is part of the efforts of the people of In- donesia to take batik to world, both in commercial aspects as well as in preserving a national heritage. 30 Batik The Cultural Beauty it became the property of the Jakarta Regional Government. After its restoration the building was immediately inaugurated as the Textile Museum.
The museum displays traditional kain (fabric) collections from various regions in Indonesia. The spacious room of the museum displays a wide variety of fabric from different parts of Indonesia, each labeled with information on their origins, types of material, production processes and purposes of use. A visitor will get to know, for ex- ample, that South Sumatra’s capital city of Palembang also has its own batiks, while men in the interior regions of Kalimantan wear clothes made of refined bark as smooth as textiles.
Kain (used to refer to material for clothes) is not only functioning as daily clothing, but in can also be used as an instrument for affirmation of family relations, position and social level of someone in the community.
Batik cloth and ikat or tied dyed are the leading types of traditional cloths dec- orated with certain patterns. The museum also displays the silk- screening (sablon), hand-painting and tin-coating (Prada) coloring techniques. Most of the collection of traditional cloths or fabrics aged of hundreds of years and have become the scarcity antiques collection. Principally, the collections kept in this Museum are decorated fab- ric associated to textile world, especially textile from within the national territory. The collections are divided into several groups, namely:
- Kain tenun (woven cloth) collection group
- Kain batik (Batik cloths) collection group
- Mixed collection group
The other part of the Museum also displays traditional instruments closely related to fabric products like weaving and batik instruments from various regions. Within the museum there is a special garden of various plants used as natural coloring dyes, for instance young teak leaves can be used to paint cloth resulting maroon color.
In order to introduce Batik, in 2005 the Museum started to open a batik making course for public and tourists. The course is made as simple as possible as the students are given the fabric with patterns already been drafted. The drafted cloths are available with Batik designs of any choice.