Thursday, April 7, 2011

Batik Madura: Trapped in Complex Patterns

For most Madurese women, being a part of the batik-making process is a matter of centuries of tradition. Thanks to the geography of the island, batik Madura, as it is popularly dubbed, is famous for its vibrant colors and various motifs, most representing the area’s plentiful flora and fauna. Some people say that the batik’s lively colors represent the nature of the Madurese people, who are said to be exuberant and direct.

Tiyema, 60, said she has been making batik pieces for nearly five decades.

“I make batik every day,” she said. “But I always do it after I finish with the house chores, like cooking, at around nine in the morning. When do I stop? It depends on how long I can endure sitting on the floor to do the work.”

While making the fabric provides Madurese women with a steady income, these batik-makers have had to abandon their dreams of ever being able to “do anything else,” in exchange for the little money they earn per each piece of the material.

“I admit that apart from preserving the tradition, I’m doing this work also because I have no other choice,” said Khatijah, from Paseseh Village in Bangkalan district. Khatijah started learning batik-making from her mother at the tender age of 11. “I don’t earn a lot of money, but I have to be able to earn enough to somehow make ends meet.

Traditional batik is made by using wax and dye to create patterns on fabric. The creation of one piece of batik tulis (handmade batik) involves a long process that consists of at least seven stages. These stages are often undertaken by different people, depending on their expertise.

Full article by Ade Mardiyati

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