Despite the Pandemic, the Batik Industry Doesn’t Want to Die

Kusrini’s fingers continued to dance on a piece of white cloth with a pencil pattern. The wrinkles on his face showed his age was not young anymore. Almost heads of six, explained Kusrini when talking to Mouab, Saturday (2/10). Canting containing hot wax is blown and written on the cloth according to the carving of a batik pattern. Batik, said Kusrini, must be patient and painstaking.

“I’ve been working on batik for a long time. My older brother makes batik patterns. I make batik using wax. My family used to have a batik business, there were 50 people working. Women wrote and colored batik, old men took batik or nembok. (pattern stamp) batik stamp, “explained Kusrini.

He became one of dozens of batik workers in the center of the batik village of Kauman Solo. For generations, his family teaches batik skills. Since the age of 3rd grade, Kusrini has been practicing batik. Sit for hours and concentrate on making batik with hot wax.

A batik maker carries out his activities in Kampung Batik Kauman Solo, Saturday (2/10).  (Photo: Mouab/ Yudha Satriawan)

A batik maker carries out his activities in Kampung Batik Kauman Solo, Saturday (2/10). (Photo: Mouab/ Yudha Satriawan)

For more than 50 years Kusrini has relied on her life from batik skills. Being a batik worker, Kusrini never got daily or weekly wages.

The Pandemic Hits the Batik Industry

The chairman of the Solo Kauman Batik Entrepreneurs Association, Gunawan Setiawan, Saturday (2/10) said that the pandemic hit the batik industry. According to Gunawan, batik SMEs have so far absorbed dozens to hundreds of workers from production, distribution, to promotion. Gunawan revealed that he had to sell a number of assets for his batik business to survive during the pandemic.

“Until now it’s still holding up. I sold my motorbike, car, and my savings almost ran out during the two years of this pandemic. Almost half a billion rupiah. No income for months loh,“said Gunawan.

The head of the Kauman Solo Batik Village Community, Gunawan Setiawan when holding an event at the local Batik Village, Saturday (2/10).  (Photo: Courtesy/Humas Surakarta City Government)

The head of the Kauman Solo Batik Village Community, Gunawan Setiawan when holding an event at the local Batik Village, Saturday (2/10). (Photo: Courtesy/Humas Surakarta City Government)

“At the beginning of the PSBB, we were optimistic that tourism would not be affected much. eh even the tours are closed. Turnover is usually millions now without income. Many batik entrepreneurs here turn their businesses into culinary delights, cook at home and offer them to residents,” he said.

So far, added Gunawan, the economy of Kampung Batik Kauman only relies on tourism.

The implementation of PPKM due to the pandemic has made the batik business continue to decline. Kampung Batik Kauman, which is located in the center of Solo, must accept the closure of road access during the implementation of level 4. Klewer market is closed, access roads around are closed, so that no tourists visit.

One batik business in Kampung Batik is able to absorb a minimum of 10 workers ranging from batik pattern makers, hand or stamped batik, color givers and drying batik cloth, to marketing staff for batik products. Not to mention the pedicab drivers, transport workers, to thousands of Klewer Market traders.

Japanese tourist Machiko Momoya applies liquid wax to fine cotton textiles to produce figurative designs during a batik course at the Textile Museum, Jakarta, on March 17, 2012. (Photo: AFP/Oscar Siagian)

Japanese tourist Machiko Momoya applies liquid wax to fine cotton textiles to produce figurative designs during a batik course at the Textile Museum, Jakarta, on March 17, 2012. (Photo: AFP/Oscar Siagian)

The Solo City Government Reorganizes the Batik Village Area

This labor-intensive effort is getting eroded. The Solo City Government does not want the batik industry to be eliminated. The Mayor of Solo, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, hopes that the batik SME economy will revive. According to Gibran, the reorganization of the Kampung Batik area and e-commerce technology is a solution in the midst of the pandemic.

“This Batik village is a tourist village. We provide parking space outside this village, later tourists can enter here by using a rickshaw or walking. Indeed, the concept is a walk. Tourists from outside the region or abroad are comfortable here. Promotion of tourism or products through e-commerce, online, “explained Gabriel.

He emphasized that he encouraged the creativity of the batik industry to remain attractive, including the younger generation. Batik masks have become a new product during the pandemic.

The chairman of the Kauman Solo Batik Entrepreneurs Association, Gunawan Setiawan, explained that during the pandemic, the involvement of the young generation of children from batik business actors was very intense. According to Gunawan, batik products are marketed through social media and create batik products that are loved by young people.

“For several months, assisted by young people from the Batik village, marketing products through social media, online. Yes, it feels different when shopping comes here. See how to make batik. There are also batik products that we adjust to the tastes of young people, colors or motifs, “said Gunawan.

The Mayor of Solo, Gibran Rakabuming Raka (second from left - white batik) looks at batik products at the Kauman Batik Village, Solo, Saturday (2/10).  (Photo: Mouab/Yudha Satriawan)

The Mayor of Solo, Gibran Rakabuming Raka (second from left – white batik) looks at batik products at the Kauman Batik Village, Solo, Saturday (2/10). (Photo: Mouab/Yudha Satriawan)

Batik has various motifs and meanings. Without eliminating the two basics, batik remains attractive to the younger generation. Gibran hopes that the younger generation will still be proud to wear batik.

“Once again, I invite young people not to be ashamed to wear batik. Don’t wear batik pas invitation or just go to work. This is batik for everyday life. Batik is an asset of the Indonesian nation that has been recognized by the world. Young people must participate, digitizing batik SMEs,” concluded Gibran. [ys/em]

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