Scarce local inputs trouble Indonesian batik weavers

04 Jan '12
2 min read

Indonesia's traditional batik weavers are finding it difficult to obtain locally made inputs like textile yarns and colouring agents, which is forcing the majority of the textile producers to use chemical colouring agents, in spite of being aware that these are toxic and even harmful to the environment.

During a discussion on Indonesian cultural heritage, Irma Hutabarat, Chairwoman of Miyara Sumatera Foundation, said in spite of batik textiles forming a part of the country's cultural heritage, not many people are keen on using local textiles.

Ms. Irma said there are some specific kind of batik textiles that are believed to be valuable and such rare pieces representing cultural legacy and art need to be preserved.

Making a mention of Ulos sibolang, she said, the blue-coloured traditional woven fabric hailing from the ethnic of Batak in North Sumatra is now becoming extinct. The fabric has an important place in the life of Batak communities as people of these communities wear it during traditional ceremonies to commemorate the joy of life, she added.

Ulos prepared by Batak etnic community of Toba reflects a different shade of blue than that of the fabric produced by ethnic groups in other regions like Tarutung or Siborong-borong. This is because, while traditional weavers use natural blue dye known as 'indigo', which is obtained from local plants, Toba artisans make use of special blue dye obtained from a different plant variety.

The 'indigo' dye gives the fabric a vibrant look and colour that lasts for several decades.

Ethnic groups from West Sumatra's Minang and South Sumatra's Palembang regions weave traditional woven fabric known as songket from natural red dyes obtained from crushed bark of mangosteen tree. Such naturally dyed fabric has a sustainability of hundreds of years.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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