Batik is always associated with Indonesia’s Java island and its culture. But actually, batik is widely spread across Indonesia with their unique characteristic.
One can tell whether the fabrics come from specific Indonesian regions just by looking at the pattern and choice of colours. For instance, soga brown and shade of blues are the characteristics of batik fabrics from Central Java, while more various colour blendings can be found in Cirebon.
How about the eastern parts of Indonesia? Aren’t they proud enough of their tenun fabrics? While the assumption is partially true, eastern Indonesia also has its batik.
Papuan batik, for example, is characterized by its distinct motifs and designs. In Papua, batik fabrics have many motifs, namely Cendrawasih, Tifa Honai, Kamoro, and Sentani, among others. Local designers in Papua tend to choose brighter Pantone colours compared to those of Java’s; such as reds, yellows, and greens.
Juliana Wilhelmina Marau, 28, known as Jill, a young Papuan woman who is deep concern about Papuan batik industry plans to develop Papuan batik to the next level by making it readily wearable as people can do for a more popular Javanese batik
“Even though my knowledge of the history of Papuan batik is somewhat limited, I still can share with you what I have come to learn about Papuan batik as I continue furthering my knowledge while exploring the potential of the industry”, she said.
When asked about famous local designers, she mentioned Mariana Pulanda Ibo or known as Mama Ibo as the pioneer of Papuan batik culture industry whose signature designs encompass Yoniki motif from Sentani, and the famous Papuan designer Jimmy Affar who once worked for notable Indonesian designers like Ramli and Carmanita.
“I have learned that at one point there was a thriving Papuan batik industry which even amounted to there being a batik village in Jayapura, designs from the likes of Mama Ibo and Jimmy Affar were heavily sought after the time. The industry though has quieted down, and now you find that the only available batik products that are popular are either the simple design batik you can get at Javanese mass printers that have come over to Papua, or high-end choices with better quality but come at higher prices,” Jill explained her concern.
As a Papuan who has lived more than ten years in Java, Jill has been equipped with the knowledge or urban market trends towards batik fabrics. Now that she has decided to return to Papua, she eagerly wants to fill the market gap and develop Papuan batik industry by creating a clothing label for good quality of Papuan batik fabrics that come in more affordable price, named Anone. To date, the concept and strategy of Anone as the clothing label are now finished and will be launched around January 2019.
“Myself, I am very much interested in getting the younger generation interested in Papuan batik again, I think we fail to recognize that Papua is huge and what makes Papua unique is the differences in culture and traditions that we have even within ourselves as Papuans,” Jill said.
While Javanese batik fabrics are mostly characterized by their bird and flower designs, or diamond-shaped and spiral-shaped repetitive motifs, Papuan batik fabrics are different; Jill admitted that “each design and meaning behind it is different with every area of Papua. It shared the tale of the daily lives of the people and used as the way to introduce their own environment. It also expresses a fresh insight into the perspective of each tribe in Papua.”
Jill is also aware that before launching her own upcoming label, Anone, people are curious as to which Papuan tribe the label would like to develop.
“With Anone, we’re attempting to explore as many cultures and designs as possible, authentically to every representation we can connect with in Papua. Through Anone’s designs, we will bring forth the uniqueness of each of Papuan culture. I am hoping Anone’s unique designs will attract the youth to connect back to their roots.”