Batik after the earthquake

December 2008 -

The center of the earthquake that hit the Indonesian Island Java was the tiny village Giriloyo (Wukirsari) in the province Jogjakarta. Six thousand people died, houses and public facilities were destroyed. Thousands of small businesses lost their market and assets. One of them was Batik Wukirsari.


Foto: Danu Primanto

"After the earthquake I collected 50,000 rupiahs (3,5 euros) from thirty women here", says Akhyar Martini. "We bought some cloth and material to make batik and sell it. Most women here can make batik, it has been done in this village since 1600. This batik is 30 years old and this one belonged to my grandmother, it's 100 years old." Her collection hangs in a glass case in her simple showroom. "The communal showroom of our batik group Sido Mukti, which we established after the earthquake, is next door", says Akhyar. "I’m the leader of the group." There are four mayor batik groups in Giriloyo: Sekar Arum, Sido Mukti, Sekar Kedaton and Sungging Tumpuk.

The Jogja Heritage Society (JHS), a local ngo which focuses on cultural heritage, was their mentor in founding the group. It contributed 15 million rupiahs (990 euros) per group as micro credit and also provided classes in management and sales. "We got a workshop in coloring technique from Balai Kerajinan dan Batik Jogjakarta (Jogjakarta Craft and Batik Bureau). Synthetic is more efficient than natural color. It takes only a week to make a batik and brightness and contrast are better. But the material is less durable. It depends on the order if we use natural or synthetic dyes.

In the future, the group wants to organize eco-tourism activities in order to introduce their products to the public. This way it explores a new market. "I have learned that the earthquake was in a certain way a blessing", says Akhyar.