When is batik really batik?

In Bali News: Has Garuda Lost the Thread on Heritage Conservation? the publication takes Garuda Boss Emirsyah Satar for resorting to using ersatz batik instead of the original ones for the uniforms of its staff.

Unspun doesn’t quite get what the fuss is about, as the site’s main objection seems to be that Garuda “instead of using original hand-made batik to costume their crew, the new uniforms would be made from printed batik-like materials churned out in a modeBali News: Has Garuda Lost the Thread on Heritage Conservation?rn textile factory.”

Is batik genuine only when it is hand-made rather than printed. Would batik tulis be more batik than batik cetak? Where did all the cotton and ilk that is used for what is considered some of the premium traditional batik have come from?

Is Bali News’s editorial, part of Bali Discovery Tours’ website, championing Indonesian tradition or promoting neo-Luddism? You decide.

…this record of success and enormity of Garuda Indonesia mission also impose on Emirsyah special responsibilities as the man-in-charge of the state-owned carrier carrying the Indonesia flag to the far corners of the world. In this regard, it appears that someone at the airline dropped the ball with the recent launch of new uniforms for Garuda’s cabin crew. [See: Sky-High Fashions]

The Garuda Experience: What Were They Thinking?

In its commitment to improve in-flight service, Garuda made a significant misstep in the execution of new uniforms for its 1,600 flight crew. As reported by balidiscovery.com, the airline hired a team of seasoned professionals to conceptualize and design stewardesses uniforms based on Indonesia’s fabled sarong kebaya. Central to the “new look” are batik-styled sarongs incorporating an eye-catching traditional lereng motif.

So far, so good. Plaudits all round for Garuda’s decision to both upgrade passenger service and create uniforms highlighting batik – the cherished textile tradition that is both an art form and a massive handicraft industry in Central Java and other parts of the Republic.

However, citing expediency as an excuse, national press reports say that instead of using original hand-made batik to costume their crew, the new uniforms would be made from printed batik-like materials churned out in a modern textile factory.

Such a loose commitment to a national handicraft treasure is unfathomable, particularly by our National Carrier serving the same Country that took umbrage and even began to rattle its sabres when it was recently perceived that neighboring Malaysia was using traditional Balinese dances to promote their tourism product. Sadly, an equally ferocious commitment to culture was sorely lacking when someone at Garuda signed the order book for the new Garuda uniforms.

via Bali News: Has Garuda Lost the Thread on Heritage Conservation?.

4 thoughts on “When is batik really batik?

Add yours

  1. The article doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t really understand what the author meant by saying “batik-like” material. Batik is a method (not a material) of wax-dyeing a cloth, and we know there are two types, one is batik tulis (hand drawn) and another is batik cap (stamped) or batik print.

    Hand-made batik or batik tulis are not not cheap (look at Iwan Tirta or Obin, one tiny scarf cost about 2 million rupiahs), so I don’t think GA crew had been wearing batik tulis uniform. How much would that cost per person? 10 million? It’s absurd, and impossible.

    I’m actually more interested in what pattern GA crew would be wearing!


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