Ancient Indonesian 'batik city' seeks to shed extremism image - Tourism Indonesia


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ancient Indonesian 'batik city' seeks to shed extremism image

Solo, Indonesia - The ancient Central Java city Solo is a quaint city that remains famous for Javanese batik and other fabrics, despite being considered a hotbed for regional terrorism.

The former capital of the powerful Surakarta principality under the Dutch, who during the 18th century controlled a significant part of Java, has recently been associated with radical Islam and the Indonesian terrorist network known as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which has killed hundreds of Westerners in hotel and nightclub bombings.

But Solo is actually a stronghold of peaceful, time-honoured Javanese beliefs and a site where foreign influences and eclectic local elements have become one.

In the city centre lies the traditional batik production district of Laweyan, where during the early 1970s, up to 90 per cent of its 2,500 residents were batik makers.

'Laweyan at once became a 'batik master,' and achieved its glorious era in early 1970s,' said Achmad Sulaiman, a leading batik maker.

In Javanese, batik means 'to dot.' It is a traditional textile working process involving the use of wax to cover fabric in patterns, thus controlling the areas affected by dying. The multi-coloured textiles are used to make traditional clothing including shirts and dresses, artwork and drapery.

By Sukino Harisumarto

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