There is something different to the standard batik fare on show at the Jakarta Textile Museum this month, offering visitors a new and unusual take on Indonesia’s staple cloth.
The new collection is decorated with Native American totem poles in bright orange hues, bison and buffalo grazing in a vibrant yellow field and monarch butterflies flitting from one blossom to another under a star-studded sky.
These designs are the winners of the American Batik Design Competition, a project hosted by the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC, which aims to promote Indonesia’s national textile to the people of the United States.
It is the second showing of the exhibition, following the display from Feb. 21 to March 4 at Grand Indonesia Shopping Town in Central Jakarta.
The designs on display were submitted by American citizens and were transferred onto cloth using batik techniques by master artisan Agus Ismoyo of the Brahma Tirta Sari Batik Studio in Yogyakarta. The project was initiated last year by Indonesia’s ambassador to the United States, Dino Patti Djalal.
“The idea is simple,” the ambassador said. “We want to globalize Indonesian batik. To promote our cultural heritage to the whole world, we should be legowo [open-minded] and allow people of other cultures to incorporate batik into their culture and come up with something new.”
The competition was launched at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on April 8 last year and followed by a series of fashion and talk shows on Indonesian batik in the United States. It was simultaneously launched by five Indonesian consulates general, in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
The competition was promoted with the motto “The Spirit of America in the Heritage of Batik.” Participants submitted their designs in PDF format, together with a brief explanation of the design.