Tag Archives: batik

Batik Artists: The Undervalued Cultural Heroes of Indonesia..

6 Jan

Batik is expensive.. but the artists receive awful wages

There is an article in Kompas today which made me really sad (click here to view – sorry it’s in Indonesian). The article is about how undervalued batik artists are. They work to create beautiful traditional textiles which shape the identity of this country. They work for long hours, with skill, patience and care. They receive Rp. 2,500 food money every day (25 cents), and get paid Rp. 11,000 – Rp. 25,000 per day (USD$ 1,10 – USD$ 2,50).

People are interested in batik again nowadays, some are highly priced, but some are even way too expensive. No wonder why people hesitate to buy it. But it really doesn’t make sense if  the batik artists who create batik for designers, get paid a very small wage.

The low wage for batik artists slows down the regeneration process. No matter how much they love batik, batik artists need to feed their families and earn a living. Can’t they get paid more? I can’t believe batik artists get paid next to nothing, and soap opera stars make a fortune. They’re both artists, they both have skills, both of their products create a lot of money. But why are batik artists less valued?

A number of successful artists out there can create tens or hundreds of millions of rupiah for one painting (and not all artists are that successful), however batik artists can never earn that much, even though they work every day, they constantly create and produce batik everyday. They are humans who need to earn a living, don’t treat them like factory machines.

Batik artists are the cultural heroes of this country. Same as tenun, songket, keris, wayang artists (and sooo much more). If we want batik to keep on existing and be preserved, we should start raising their wages, start valuing them more. Why is batik in the shopping malls so expensive, but the people who actually create the textiles are paid next to nothing? Who’s earning all the profits here?



We Are What We Wear

31 Dec

Javanese Cultural Evolution

As Indonesians, we look good in their traditional clothes and textiles. However, we are way too busy trying to copy what we see in MTV. As time goes by, Indonesians view their traditional clothes as “so yesterday”, “old”, as if it should be left behind. Then, when another country says that ‘batik’ is actually traditionally theirs, Indonesians got really angry. Well, where were you people??

It is incredibly irritating to see Indonesians dressed in emo clothing. I’m sorry but I just had to say it. They look really ridiculous. I used to see them walking around in malls, with their eyeliners and skinny jeans. We were made as Indonesians, wear our traditional clothes and textiles, they were created for us! Our ethnicities, our skin colours, they suit us. A long time ago, traditional textiles were worn every day, so we should be able to wear that now too.

When I lived in Australia, I saw African women in their traditional clothing, and Indian women in their saris (much prettier than when they wear miniskirts and tank tops)… and I thought to myself, wow they look beautiful! They look beautiful because those clothes are meant to be worn by them. Why can’t we Indonesians do that too? From that moment I started to believe that we would look better, more beautiful and attractive, if we just…. be ourselves. Be proud of your ethnicity. Wear your traditional clothes… because it just… suitable.


There are a lot of Indonesians who are like this...