Tag Archives: wage

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?