Monday, January 22, 2007

Ibu Ibo introduces Papua motifs to Javanese batik

Papuan-style batik is reportedly gaining popularity but Nethy Dharma Somba of The Jakarta Post reports that the fate of the Papuan batik makers, who own the motifs, has been neglected. From her simple home in Kemiri, Sentani, 63-year-old Mariana Ibo Pulanda continues her creative endeavors, although she only gets two or three orders a month.

She got involved in the ancient traditional industry when she learned how to make batik in Jayapura in 1992 before continuing her training at Batik Keris Solo in Surakarta,Central Java, in 1994.

"By making batik, I can tell my ancestors' stories to other people," she said, and so far, she has patented five Papuan batik motifs - Akolo, Siborakai, Yahahi, Yoniki, Yohelai and Taye Bumiyae, all from Sentani. "Back then, our ancestors used wooden boats, bark and the walls of their homes as media to tell various stories from our community, but with time, I have realized that by making batik I can preserve the Papuan motifs of my ancestors by using a different medium,"

Robyn Roper, who wrote his master's thesis on contemporary art in Papua at the University of Victoria, Canada, wrote in that batik became popular in Papua thanks to a 1983 joint aid project, which established Batik Irian, an income-generating project aimed at developing a Papuan batik industry by introducing batik techniques from Java. He said the cloth is printed with a mix of ethnically distinct Papuan motifs, usually in bright colors.

Ibu Ibo's workshop was built with Rp 30 million in assistance received in 2000 from former manpower minister Luhut Pangaribuan. She has also received a loan from the Papua Bank to help her develop her business. When the workshop was first opened, some 100 people came to learn how to make batik. But with not enough money to order materials as business has been slow, she now has only 13 employees. However she receives dozens of students from the Papuan Arts Institute.

Since all the materials, from the cloth and the canting to dye, must be ordered from Java, her batik is more expensive than that made in Java, but sold in Papua. A T-shirt for a junior high school student costs Rp 50,000, and Rp 35,000 for a T-shirt for an elementary school student.

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