We were thrilled when we heard about the Java in Paris event. Solo city government in collaboration with Indonesia’s embassy for France is trying to rebuild the small businesses in our local community by bringing their products to Paris earlier this month. One of the strategies that the City Mayor of Solo used in bringing our local products to the world is by pushing Batik as the main product to promote while in Paris. Batik was included on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity back in 2009. The Mayor sees this event as an opportunity to spread further awareness of this iconic cultural heritage of Indonesia and make Batik a bridge to introduce other Indonesia’s authentic products to the world.
Nowadays, Batik motifs can be found in any craft and everyday necessities. There are so many different varieties of things on which we could put Batik motifs on. Most commonly found as a piece of fabric, or clothing items, Batik motifs also can be applied to so many different materials using several different techniques.
Take a look at these gorgeous baskets!
Do you see the motif weaved using the white rope on the outside of the basket? For most people that pattern maybe doesn’t have any meaning, just a regular pattern put on a basket to make it looks more interesting. That pattern is one of the oldest batik patterns. We call it Batik Kawung. It might look simple but the meaning behind this particular pattern is deep.
Batik Kawung carries a philosophy that is closely related to the human life cycle. It is considered a symbol of courage and justice. Back in the day, Batik Kawung is only allowed to be worn by people of higher status such as noble families and the government of higher ranks. As time goes by, this rule became no longer valid, and now Batik Kawung can be worn by anyone.
Batik patterns that are usually drawn onto the surface now can be applied as a weaving pattern. Not only adding to the looks but knowing the meaning behind the pattern can also add a whole new meaning and charm to the basket. Batik is well-loved by the Indonesian people. We even have a dedicated date to appreciate this cultural heritage that has become the identity of our country. But Batik is not the only cultural heritage that exists in Indonesia.
With a total of 1.340 ethnic groups, it is only natural that Batik is not the only heritage culture worth mentioning in Indonesia. Besides all of the beautiful cultures and traditions that you have yet to see, Indonesia also has a great number of natural resources. These natural resources have a significant part of the cultures and traditions in Indonesia. Just like how Batik has become Indonesia’s identity, the natural resources that can only be found in Indonesia should be recognized by the world.
Take rattan for example. Even though rattan can be found in so many other tropical countries, Indonesia is by far the most reliable source for this particular palm family. According to some sources, Indonesia has been the supplier for about 70% of rattan needs in the whole world and also contributes to 30% of rattan furniture in the world, making Indonesia the 2nd biggest rattan furniture exporter alongside China.
As well as a lot of resources to supply the whole world, our craftsmen are also dedicated and passionate about producing only the best quality of rattan furniture. In Indonesia, the making process for rattan furniture is mostly done by hand. Handcrafted manually using some techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Along with rattan, another natural resource that is worth mentioning is eceng gondok or water hyacinth. Water Hyacinth is a type of weed that grows on the surface of water bodies such as rivers, lakes, swamps, etc. This weed has blooming flowers and they usually come in purple. But don’t be fooled by the appearance, because this type of weed is damaging the environment.
Water hyacinth has a variety of negative impacts once introduced into a freshwater environment. It forms dense, impenetrable mats which clog waterways and make almost every water activity such as boating and fishing impossible. It also reduces biodiversity by crowding out native plants at the water’s surface and below. After they formed a mat, they can degrade the water quality by blocking the air-water interface and greatly reducing oxygen levels in the water, thus eliminating underwater animals.
By using water hyacinth, we are not only helping the environment, especially the freshwater surface and the biodiversity under it, but we are also helping the smaller businesses in the community. Organic waste can be reduced and become an income source for the people and the once unwanted weed, in the hands of competent craftsmen can now be transformed into practical items that many people love. With enough education and exposure to the world and our people, we believe that rattan and eceng gondok can be the next Batik, a Cultural Heritage from Indonesia.
These were just two examples of the Indonesian natural resources that are widely used but not widely known coming from Indonesia. We in Koin Indonesia chose these materials for our products with sustainability in mind as a part of our conscious effort in keeping the environment safe. And while we are at it, we are also conserving the traditional ways in our community that has been passed down from generation to generation.
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