August 17, 2009

Batik Komar in Bandung

I'm currently taking a travel writing class which consists of 4 theory sessions & 2 fieldtrips. But, surprise...surprise...I've already missed out on 2 classes & 1 trip because of the hectic load at my office. I did manage to attend 1 trip last weekend to Bandung where we were supposed to write an article about. I eventually submitted mine 1 week after the due date. The article is a bit long while I like to keep my blog postings short so I've taken out some bits of pieces of the article to post here...

After taking a few wrong turns through the winding roads of Bandung, my travel writing class mates and I eventually arrived at Batik Komar's workshop in Cigadung area. The workshop has nice plants and trees on the side, giving it a quite serene atmosphere.

Komarudin Kudiya, the workshop owner, greeted us at the gate. His appearance was friendly and humble considering his achievements are plenty, among others he produced the longest batik in the world in 2005 which made the Guinness book of records. His batik house is also a regular at international trade fairs.

While lunch was served, compliments of the host, Mr. Komar explained a little about batik. "For it to be called batik, it must use malam (candle wax) when dyeing the textile," he started his explanation. The wax is used to cover the parts of the cloth design that you don't want to get coloured. Two general methods of applying the wax are by using "
canting" and "cap".

Making batik with a canting can be a very tedious process. This is usually done by women and the end-product is called Batik Tulis (which means "Written batik").

Batik cap, on the other hand, is usually done by men using copper blocks (cap) which are stamped onto a piece of cloth. It usually takes about 2 weeks (depending on the design) to make a cap from scratch. There are not many producers of the actual cap device, which is why Batik Komar also receives orders from other batik houses to make the device for them.

Mr. Komar showed us the storage room for the cap devices. There are hundreds of them, neatly arranged on shelves which are as high as the ceiling. Each cap design ever made by Batik Komar is saved on a computer.

We then entered the room where the cap is actually used to design the batik. Each man stands behind a table which has a piece of cloth on it. On their side is a small stove with a copper platter containing a thin layer of heated wax. The cap is dipped into the wax for a moment and then taken out and shaken a few times to get rid of any wax which haven't stuck well on the cap. They then carefully put the cap onto the cloth, making sure the pattern fits well with the previous print. Under the cloth, the table is actually padded with a slightly wet material covered with plastic so that the wax will dry quickly once pressed on to the cloth.

After looking at the whole process, you can't help not wanting to buy a piece of batik. Luckily the workshop has a small store selling ready-to-wear batik clothing as well as single pieces of batik cloth.

If you want to buy Batik Komar but don't have the time to go to the workshop, Batik Komar also has a showroom in the Bandung city centre at Jalan Sumbawa.

Besides the workshop and showroom in Bandung, Batik Komar also has a workshop in his birthplace - Trusmi (Cirebon). Trusmi is a village well-known for its high quality batik. I guess in this case, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Mr. Komar explaining the process of dyeing the cloth

Making the copper block, the kid in the yellow t-shirt is Mr. Komar's son...the next generation?

Making the cap, from the hand-drawned design until the finished product

Left: Dipping the cap into the wax, Right :Carefully stamping the cloth


Storage Room


Whatever Indonesia said...

It's a good writing.. I must learn from you! Keep writing and sharing!

Antonius Bram said...

That was great! I would love to experience the batik closer.

Fitri said...

@Whatever : Thanks a lot! I'm still not confident enough to send an article to papers/ magazines yet though...
@Bram : maybe next time when you go to Bandung...but maybe don't go on a Sunday. If I'm not mistaken, it's the workers' day off.

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