Monday, April 25, 2011

Batik: The Many Faces of  a National Icon

There was an outpouring of national pride when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized Indonesian batik as intangible cultural heritage in 2009. The renewed interest in batik inspired countless fashion designers to experiment with vibrant and modern interpretations of the traditional cloth.

While it has certainly been exciting to see younger generations embracing the traditional cloth and incorporating it into a modern lifestyle, some scholars are concerned that the traditional meanings behind the fabric’s motifs have been lost.

To counter this trend, Sri Soedewi Samsi, former chairwoman of the research and development division of the Batik and Handicrafts Association, last month launched a coffee-table book titled “Teknik dan Ragam Hias Batik Yogya & Solo” (“Techniques and Ornamentation of Yogya & Solo Batik”).

“I hope that the book will help people learn about and appreciate batik more,” she said. “Batik should be seen not only as a fashionable product, but also valued for its cultural roots.”

Yogyakarta and Solo have traditionally been considered the main centers of batik-making. Most batik production techniques, color palates and motifs were developed in the royal courts of Yogyakarta and the palaces of Solo.

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