Colorful costumes and cheerful music flowed from a museum in downtown Taipei yesterday at a festival honoring the art of batik, a traditional wax-resist dyeing technique from Indonesia.
The Batik & Ikat Festival, organized by the Indonesia Diaspora Network in Taiwan and held at National Taiwan Museum’s Namen Park branch, featured a series of Indonesian cultural activities, including traditional dancing and choirs, as well as batik art.
Taiwan-based Indonesians from all walks of life attended the event, which featured a fashion show with runway models in ikat shawls and long skirts made from beautifully dyed batik cloth.
Ikat refers to a patterning technique where yarns are bound to resist dye before weaving, and to the textiles made using this tied-yarn dye-resist technique.
Inggrid Chandra, the festival’s project manager, said that batik and ikat culture runs through the Indonesian bloodline.
She added that every year the network organizes a batik-themed festival to raise awareness of the tradition on National Batik Day, which is Oct. 2.
The day marks the anniversary of when batik culture was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
“Starting from a deep love for Indonesian culture and country, we always do our best to appreciate and preserve the batik and ikat culture. In addition to raising awareness to our fellow Indonesian brothers and sisters who are abroad, we also want to share the culture with our international friends,” Chandra told the Central News Agency.
Sakshi Saraswat, 24, an Indian doctoral student in Taiwan who participated in the festival as one of the runway models, said she believed that batik in her country originally came from Indonesia and that she wanted to learn more about the culture.
Saraswat walked the runway twice, first wearing a batik long skirt with peacock motifs, and then wearing an ikat shawl, with its characteristic blurred design on full display.
“I feel so good. I have never done a runway before and it boosted my confidence a lot. Also, I feel more Indonesian now,” Saraswat said.
During a speech at the festival, Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (IETO) to Taipei Head Budi Santoso to Taipei said that his country would like to share the beauty of batik with people of all races.
He also encouraged people around the world to wear batik clothing, saying that it can be found everywhere.
“Batik Day reminds us that we have a colorful civilization. Batik is a historical record of beauty,” Budi said.
Indonesian news agency Antara quoted Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi as saying that her ministry would continue to present batik on the international stage as a part of Indonesia’s identity “every chance it gets.”
A BOLSTERED IDENTITY
“Mainstreaming batik to be a part of the education curriculum and training diplomats should be done to improve the effort of promoting Indonesian batik abroad,” Antara reported.
Fajar Nuradi, director of the IETO’s Indonesian Citizens Protection and Social Cultural Department, reiterated the call to buoy the role of batik as a pillar of cultural identity for overseas Indonesians.
“The main objective of this batik festival is to strengthen the pride of wearing batik among Indonesian citizens abroad and, at the same time, to promote the beauty of our batik to the world,” Fajar said.
The network has held batik-themed festivals annually since 2017, with hundreds of participants in attendance each year.
However, due to restrictions implemented because of COVID-19, the museum could only allow 50 people indoors and 80 outdoors at any given time for the festival yesterday.
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