Batik Day is held on the 2nd of October every year in Indonesia to mark the date in 2009 when Indonesian Batik was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and celebrate this cultural heritage. The staff of the UNESCO Office in Jakarta celebrated this year’s Batik Day in style, taking part in a General Staff meeting wearing the traditional cloth.
The meeting started with a brief presentation from the UNESCO Jakarta team on the journey of how Batik came to be included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) for Humanity and the great meaning and pride it gives to many Indonesian people. The Culture Unit also gave staff from other units an overview of the Convention, how the UNESCO Office in Jakarta is supporting local communities and the national government safeguard ICH, and the cross cutting importance of ICH for sustainable development.
A number of Batik artisans from Borobudur and Klaten, Central Java, also took part in the celebration and outlined how Batik has now become an important source of livelihood development for them and their communities in the region. The group from Klaten shared inspiring stories on how they changed from ‘zero to hero’, from being employed as workers on a low wage for a batik factory, to developing their own cooperation of 169 women who have sustainably been able to increase their income by tenfold.
The connection between traditional Batik and contemporary design was also explored, with renowned fashion designer Lulu Lutfi Labibi (Lulu), presenting his work and involvement with local batik artisans. Lulu produces high-end fashion design that helps to promote the local artisans’ products to a wider market using the principle of “national women, with international taste, who love their own culture.”
A number of fun activities were conducted at the office. Several UNESCO Jakarta staff was invited on stage to showcase the clothes that Lulu has designed and produced. A practical experience was also offered by the Batik artisans, who invited the staff to learn how to make their own batik cloth with materials that they brought from their village. There was also a range of products showcased during the day, including locally made food, snacks, ceramics, and batik cloth.
This event garnered a positive response from the staff and was finally wrapped up with group photo and a gathering. It is hoped that this Batik Day will raise awareness to fellow UNESCO staff on the cross-cutting importance of ICH for sustainable development, and to support the safeguarding of Batik as a representation of the creativity and daily life of Indonesian communities.