A tradition threatened
The village of Gulurejo near Yogyakarta in Indonesia is renowned for its batik, which is used for clothing, cloth, decoration and art. Batik is a patterned cloth made using dyes and dye-resistant wax drawn onto cloth to create elaborate and colourful patterns. Sukini from Gulurejo says, ‘Here, we are wrapped in batik the minute we’re born, we're carried by our mothers in it, we wrap ourselves in it as grown-ups, and we will be wrapped in it the day we die.’
The Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s brought hardship to many Indonesians and a 2006 earthquake in Yogyakarta caused great damage to property, farmland, infrastructure and livelihoods. With demand for batik cloth diminished, and their workshops destroyed, many batik-makers were forced to seek other work.
Back in business
In the aftermath of the tsunami, the batik-makers from Gulurejo received assistance from the Yogyakarta – Central Java Community Assistance Program to re-establish their businesses. The women formed a cooperative and received training in marketing and microfinance. They came together to share techniques, patterns and manufacturing processes.
To appeal to more customers they decided to create more affordable batiks from cotton and natural dyes, instead of silk and chemical dyes.
More than financial benefits
Not only is business growing, and batik-makers earning more than ever before, but also they have regained their self-confidence and their passion for batik-making. They have begun exhibiting their works and their success has benefited them in other aspects of their lives, which is sure to have a flow-on effect in their community.