Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Batik industry has been booming following the increased public enthusiasm of wearing the traditional clothes particularly since the inclusion of batik by UNESCO in "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" items on September 30, 2009.

On October 2, 2009, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on all Indonesians to wear batik on that day to celebrate UNESCO`s decision.

UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) describes Indonesian Batik as: The techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik.

Batik, which has been developed for centuries particularly on Java Island, is cloth which traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. But, thanks to modern advances in the textile industry, the term has been extended to include fabrics which incorporate traditional batik patterns.

The domestic batik production growth had increased 13 percent to Rp732.67 billion in 2010 from Rp648.94 billion in the previous year. Last year, the batik handicraft industry absorbed a total of 70,395 workers.

Indonesia is very proud of its batik which is considered as formal dress in official functions. Batik are usually made of cotton or silk, which are comfortable to wear. And this benefits not only Indonesians, but also some foreign diplomats who prefer to use batik, and avoids suits, amidst Indonesia`s heat.

Employees of Indonesian state-owned companies and government institutions have for years adhered to a tradition of wearing batik on every Friday of the week.

As more people are fond of wearing batik, almost every malls and department stores now have batik centers or corners. The government has also been very active in using the momentum to promote batik domestically and internationally through batik exhibitions.

As the peak of the promotion activities, the Indonesian government is planning to hold a World Batik Summit (WBS) in Jakarta this year to facilitate a meeting between batik lovers and producers globally.

The World Batik Summit (WBS) will be organized at the Jakarta Convention Center from September 28 to October 2011 and is expected to be participated in by around 1,000 delegates from Indonesia and overseas, according to Trade Minister Mari Elka Pengestu in Jakarta recently.

Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam, who is also a founder of Batik Indonesia foundation, said the World Batik Summit was aimed to establish a strong networking between batik makers and lovers around the world.

"The event is expected to attract international`s interest towards batik," Dipo said recently.

The summit`s delegates are expected to come from various background namely practitioners, academicians, marketing officers, producers, fashion designers, fashion critics, and of course batik lovers.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to officially kick off the WBS which will be highlighted with a conference on "Indonesia: Global Home of Batik", a Gallery of Honor featuring international leaders, celebrities, and fashion leaders, Batik Buyers Meet Sellers forum, an exhibition presenting all Batik products such as Batik Gallery from Batik collectors, batik art and crafts, batik interiors, batik workshop, jewelry, accessories, and fashion.

Following the batik summit, another batik exhibition will be organized in Batam, Riau Islands Province, Sumatra, on December 2 to 4, 2011.

The batik expo will be held to celebrate the National Batik Day, Iman Sutjipto, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, said.

Batam has been named as an ASEAN batik trade center because its strategic location close to Singapore and Malaysia.

But, the batik promotion would not stop after the summit, in fact it would just be the beginning of more structured and better planned campaigns on the national batik products.

Minister Mari Elka Pangestu disclosed that her ministry was currently preparing a blueprint of Indonesian batik promotion with the cooperation of a number of stakeholders such as batik experts and businessmen. The blue print will be officially launched during the WBS 2011.

"Batik which has been recognized a world heritage, must be managed and preserved sustainably to make sure that the tradition and meaning of batik survive," Minister Pangestu said.

Different styles of batik are also found in various regions throughout Indonesia. "Batik now is not only produced in regions such as Pekalongan and Yogyakarta. Recently, I found out that Papua has also batik," she said.

On June 25, 2011, Minister Pangestu visited the Port Numbay batik boutique. The minister praised the beautiful batik designs of Port Numbai which feature objects such as traditional boats, birds, tifa traditional music instruments.

Last July, the latest batik designs of Papua`s Kamoro and Amukme tribes made by native Papua designer and businessman Jimi Hendrick Afaar were put on display in Jakarta.

Papua batik tells about the local culture, traditions which are forgotten or endangered, he said. Kamoro and Amukme batik designs usually show statue images.

A Batik Cultural Heritage Exhibition was organized in Jakarta, from August 2 to 5, 2011, by presenting the best works of 48 batik producers from various regions such as Jakarta, Tangerang (Banten), Pekalongan, Sragen, Surakarta (Central Java), Bantul (Yogyakarta), Garut, Tasikmalaya and Cirebon (West Java), and Madura (East Java).

"The people including youths and teenagers have started to like batik. The government`s policy to wear batik in the government and the private officers has helped boost the batik industry," Industry Minister MS Hidayat said in his remarks when officially kicking off the Fourth Batik Cultural Heritage Exhibition.

The minister was optimistic that the batik industry would continue growing in the future as more Indonesians tend to wear batik in their daily activities. He was also convinced that the number of workers absorbed by the batik industry would raise so that the batik industry could propel the people`s economy.

The government has also given a legal protection and identity through batik mark called "Batik Indonesia" which has been registered at the legal and human rights ministry`s intellectual property rights directorate general, to get patent rights, according to Minister Hidayat.

To celebrate the 44th Anniversary of ASEAN (Association of the Southeast Asian Nations), some 40 batik works by nine artists from nine ASEAN member countries were put on display at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on August 8, 2011.

In Bandung (West Java Province), a similar exhibition will be held at the Asia-Africa Conference Museum (KAA) from August 22 to 24, 2011, according to KAA Museum Chief Isman Pasha.

The nine ASEAN artists had joined a batik painting training course in Sleman, Yogyakarta, for more than two months since June 4, with scholarships from the Indonesian foreign affairs ministry.

In addition to all those exhibitions, Indonesia also plans to hold a Miss and Mr Batik contest to select Indonesian batik ambassadors.

The contest was aimed at encouraging the younger generation to love and be proud of batik as the national cultural heritage, Sapta Nirwandar, the culture and tourism ministry`s marketing director, said recently.

Indonesia even hopes to organize an international batik beauty contest in the future as there are a few countries which also have batik, such as India, Sri lanka, Japan, Nigeria, Somalia, Egypt, China, Malaysia and Singapore.

Reporter: by Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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