July 11, 2016

Buy a Batik

Taking a break from scraping off wax from the Batiks
Yogyakarta, 2009

Young girl learns the art of Batik from her mother
Jeruk, 2009

Batik brand labels 
Solo, 2009

Batik hanging to dry
Yogyakarta, 2009

These are titles of recent news articles. Strong titles that can be read as cries for help from the Batik industry towards the government and also towards buyers. The problem the Batik industry has, is the same they had in 2009: Printed Batiks flooding the market while Batik Tulis is not being sold. The solution was to make Batik the officially UNESCO heritage of Indonesia, but this solution turns out not to be the right answer. Or not yet, because how can a heritage exist if their is, as it seems, no need for the product. Or is it not that they don't want the product, but just can't buy the right product?
The problem, about which I wrote about several times on this blog*, may lead to the demise of the Batik industry. And with a technique like Batik Tulis, when the knowledge is lost, it may be lost forever.
A serious cry for help and I hope it will be heard.

My upcoming project, The second journey to Batik, is actually inspired by this problem. Batik as a technique has been under pressure for a long time, but I noticed that in the Indonesian culture & Art it is very alive. The philosophy of Batik as I call it, the language of the patterns, is used in many Art forms from painting to tattoo’s, in dance and fashion. But can Batik exist without the actual Batik Tulis, the handwritten cloths that inspired all of these cultural things on Java. It is something I'm trying to figure out this year during my three month stay on Java.
I will visit many artists, fashion-designers, museums, experts and of course Batik makers. I hope to answer: Why is Batik so inspiring and how can we use this inspiration to make sure the making of Batik Tulis will exist for many more generations to come?
In the article 'Ignorance may lead to the demise of industry' the suggestion is being made to educate people so they can buy actual Batik Tulis and not printed Batik. I think this is a very good idea, but how to do it?
As I wrote in a previous blogpost before, I got my heart broken earlier when I received as a gift a printed Batik. My heart also broke when I ordered a blouse from a brand I love, who claimed to support real Batik, that turned out to be made with printed Batik. Ignorance is in this case is as dangerous as deliberately. And without sending blame, I hope together with other real Batik lovers we can secure te future of Batik and try to find ways to bring the buyer back to the product!

In this video about the Museum Batik in Yogyakarta (with English subtitles) at 9 minutes a short and nice explanation by the museum director about how to recognize a real Batik.
So how can you recognize a Batik Tulis from a printed Batik, or better said Tekstil Motif Batik, a textile with a Batik pattern/motive. Forget her first tip about if you buy the expensive Batik, you buy a real batik, because price can be misleading. It is an important thing to realize, because I meet a lot of people in the Netherlands wearing printed, or better said fake Batik, telling me it is too expensive to wear actual Batik. From my own experience this is just not true. It is a point of view and it really depends on what you classify as "too expensive". You have to realize what it means if you buy printed Batik.
Here is a little exercise so you can decide what you are willing or able to pay for an actual handmade fabric. Just visit your local textile market and buy one meter of a printed textile. You can then easily decide for yourself what you would pay if that same meter wasn't made by a machine. What would you pay for that fabric if it was woven, coloured, painted, embroidered, stamped or batikked by hand?
Her second tip, the 'Look-alike' tip means: see if the pattern repeats perfectly. It is a good tip and easy trick. Just fold the fabric so two parts of the same pattern are next to each other. If the pattern is the same, "sama", it is a printed Batik and not handmade.

One thing that help the Batik industry is for sure to just buy a Batik.
Because it is difficult to get your hands on a real Batik Tulis in the Netherlands, I can buy one for you during my journey!
Let me know for what amount you would like to buy a Batik (staring price from 50 euro). You can let me know if you would like to have a Batik from a specific region or city, or if you want it in your favorite colour or with animals, insects or plants you like on it. I can also help with selecting the right Batik for you. Contact me for more information at sabine{@}sabinebolk.nl.
Hope to buy a Batik for you!

To read more on how to recognize a real Batik read my previous blogpost 'The real deal' & 'Batik: Pattern vs. Technique'

P.S. I want to apologize if this cry for help is maybe not appropriate with everything that is going on in the world today. I believe if we support heritage, culture and love, we will become more united. We will learn to appreciate life more and we will be more understanding towards each other. Learning about Batik, taught me a great deal about my Dutch heritage and specifically a heritage people don't like to talk about. I hope by sharing the positive, I can create room to acknowledge the negative when it comes to our (Dutch) history and also our present blind spot when it comes to "our world view".
I also promise to buy real handmate wooden shoes.

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