Papuan batik
Artisans make Papuan batik in Abepura, Jayapura. Jubi/Ramah

Papuan batik artisans struggle amid lack of raw material


Jayapura, Jubi – In Abepura District, Jayapura City, the productivity of hand-drawn batik artisans is low as raw materials to create the batik, such as fabrics and dyes, are hard to get.


Joni Silas Wona, a facilitator of batik group in Abepura, said that the materials available in the area were expensive so artisans had to import them from outside Papua, such as from Surakarta and Pekalongan in Central Java, Yogyakarta, and Malang, East Java.


Because of such constraint, Wona said, Papuan batik artisan had yet to contribute to the economy even though Papuan batik has export potential given its unique motifs and philosophy.



Read also: Papuan Legislative Commission Seeks More Papua Batik Production in Papua


Papuan batik fabrics tell the culture of indigenous Papuans who live in both coastal areas and in the mountains. The motifs varied from Asmat tribe statues to boats and fish from the Tobati tribe, Tifa musical instruments from the Fak-fak tribe, the Cenderawasih birds (birds of paradise) of the Biak Island, warfare tools, carvings, and sacred symbols. The distinction between Papuan batik and its Javanese counterpart is the use of bright and bold colors in Papuan batik such as red, yellow, green, blue, and black.


Wona said that artisans wanted to sell their batik at a competitive price but it was impossible with the high cost of raw materials. He hoped for the availability of affordable batik materials in the capital city of Papua so artisans no longer had to buy from outside the region.


Read also: Papua Parliament to Question Papua Batik Printed in Pekalongan


“If there are distributors of fabrics and dyes at affordable prices, it will increase the productivity of batik artisan and have an impact on economic growth,” said Wona. He added that he had been guiding the production, sales, and bookkeeping in Abepura’s batik group so that the group can operate more effectively and improve its economy.


Goods in Papua Land, including staple food, are much more expensive than in other parts of Indonesia due to the challenging terrain that makes transportation costs very high.


The head of Jayapura Industry, Trade, Cooperative, and Small and Medium Enterprises Agency, Robert L.N. Awi, said that the batik business in Jayapura was not the main business and still run on a micro-scale.


“We have three groups of Port Numbay batik artisan apart from Jimmy Afaar and Mama Balandina. These groups can sell 10-15 pieces of hand-drawn batik and 20-30 printed batik,”  Awi said.


Awi acknowledged that the lack of availability of batik materials could affect batik production in Jayapura. “We’re still pushing for the availability of affordable raw materials so that batik artisans can improve their income,” he said.


Reporter: Ramah

Editor: Dewi Wulandari

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