July 23, 2012

5th Solo Batik Carnival 2012: Batik Metamorphosis

Just recently held in Surakarta, Central Java (the island where I stay in Indonesia). It's the fifth Solo Batik Carnival (SBC).  The annual event is held to celebrate Indonesian authentic traditional art on textile. The costumes, with their splendors and innovative designs, are handcrafted by some of Solo's finest batik artisans.

250 participants wearing various costumes and batik attire presented traditional dances in the event with a theme of "Batik Metamorphosis". Three Indonesian super-beauties appeared there wearing gorgeous costumes: Puteri Indonesia 2011 Maria Selena (beauty queen), Puteri Indonesia Pariwisata 2011 Andi Natassa (tourism queen), and Duta Lingkungan 2011 Liza Elly (environment envoy).

The theme, metamorphosis, is inspired by the phases of batik making. The Indonesian classic custom starts from drawing the motif on white cloth, wax treatment, colouring, wax removal, and the cloth finishing.

Although this is definitely far from the glamourous European couture shows (it's a carnival), I'm always intrigued by the idea of batik. It's actually one of the nation's fashion forerunner, first time recorded in history as far as 1880.

Batik has been deeply ingrained in Javanese culture. In the old times, certain patterns can only be worn by nobility and the elites. Pattern like wider stripes or wavy lines with greater width can indicate a higher rank (if my info is correct). So during formal parties or ceremonies, we could determine a person's lineage by observing the cloth he/she wears.

Today, batik motifs are more modernised and combine so many elements of fashion. We can see this often in Jakarta Fashion Show where the couture designers showcase traditional Javanese style gowns with a flair of European influence. Contemporary batik on the runway is really common nowadays - a unique characteristic of Indonesian fashion industry.

New creations keep coming, new pattern and new materials will always be around. The last I read is a blooming batik designer that uses cutting edge technology to design batik pattern and then transfer it to clothes with digital printing machine. Exploring batik is a never-ending journey in this country, or so I say.

Images courtesy of Adrian Aden
Article sourced from Jakarta Post, Indonesia Travel, solobatikcarnival


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