Post A: Batik in a Multicultural Indonesia

Values, goals, and culture are defined by the local context to which one either currently or previously has resided within. By extension design, being the product of an individual’s creative and educational knowledge, also varies from one local context to another. In a multicultural society such as Indonesia, the interpretation of what design is and how it manifests itself is as broad as the backgrounds of those who live within the country.

The academic paper “The Application of Multicultural Education and Applying ICT on Pesantren in South Sulawesi, Indonesia” highlights that “Indonesian society has multiple ethnic groups, social status groups, economic groups and educational groups”1 (Aqsha Lubis et al 2009). Information technology has revolutionised the way Indonesians connect with one another, broadening access to various localities and the design culture that is inherent within these contexts, creating a more globally influenced design culture at a local scale.2 (Aqsha Lubis et al 2009)

Evidence of how different local contexts enable varied interpretations of a design element is seen in textiles throughout Indonesia. Batik, the process of intricately dying patterns onto fabric, originates within Java.3 (UNESCO 2009) Traditional styles can increasingly be seen to have influences from “Arabic calligraphy, European bouquets and Chinese phoenixes to Japanese cherry blossoms and Indian or Persian peacocks”.4 (UNESCO 2009) This is just one example of how different areas are influenced by other situational contexts to create unique designs that are used in day-to-day life.

Going beyond a purely locational influence, Batik also varies from age group to age group. Babies right through to those on their deathbeds wear Batik, and it is their own unique contexts that determine what style they don. Traditional dyes and prints are still worn too, however contemporary adaptions have been adopted into everyday corporate wear.5 (American Design Batik Competition 2013)

“Indonesian Batik has a rich symbolism related to social status, local community, nature, history and cultural heritage; provides Indonesian people with a sense of identity and continuity as an essential component of their life from birth to death; and continues to evolve without losing its traditional meaning” 6 (UNESCO 2009)

Diana Santosa is a current fashion designer, bringing new uses to Batik within the fashion industry. Through this contemporary approach, Santosa is bringing Batik to the global market place.7 (The Jakarta Post 2009) Removed from the context of Indonesia, one must question how much cultural understanding the wearer has of the garments they possess, and the meaning behind the styles, dyes, and forms of the garments that aren’t inherently obvious.

Adrianus Putuhena  originally sourced from
Adrianus Putuhena <https://www.pinterest.com/pin/43206477648529974/&gt; originally sourced from <https://marketplace.asos.com/men/shirts&gt;

An example of contemporary Batik, originally found on ASOS Marketplace before being reblogged on Pintrest

(1) Maimun Aqsha Lubis, Mohamed Amin Embi, Melor Md.Yunus, Ismail Suardi Wekke, 2009, The Application of Multicultural Education and Applying ICT on Pesantren in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Issue 8, Volume 6, pg 1401 <http://wseas.us/e-library/transactions/information/2009/29-554.pdf>

(2) Maimun Aqsha Lubis, Mohamed Amin Embi, Melor Md.Yunus, Ismail Suardi Wekke, 2009, The Application of Multicultural Education and Applying ICT on Pesantren in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Issue 8, Volume 6, pg 1402 <http://wseas.us/e-library/transactions/information/2009/29-554.pdf>

(3) UNESO Culture Sector 2009, Indonesian Batik , viewed 25th April 2015, <http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/00170>

(4) UNESO Culture Sector 2009, Indonesian Batik , viewed 25th April 2015, <http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/00170>

(5) American Design Batik Competition 2013, Batik and Indonesia, viewed 25th April 2015, <http://americanbatik.embassyofindonesia.org/batik_indonesia.htm>

(6)UNESO Culture Sector 2009, Indonesian Batik , viewed 25th April 2015, <http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/00170>

(7) The Jakarta Post 2009, Danar Hadi: The Stylistic Evolution of Batik, Dita Ajani, viewed 25th April 2015, <http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/04/28/danar-hadi-the-stylistic-evolution-batik.html>

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One thought on “Post A: Batik in a Multicultural Indonesia

  1. It is interesting to know that Batik is used from birth to death. From what i know when i was back in Singapore, a lot of people travel to Indonesia to buy Batik and use it as material for clothes to show their social class. It is normally worn for special occasions. – Dehong Tay,Don

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