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May 29, 2017

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A quality Druju batik takes time and great deal of skill

MALANG, Indonesia--Several women are singing aloud, breaking the prevailing silence, while their skillful hands draw with ink — following the lines and motifs on silk fabrics.

The sight is common in Druju village, located some 60 kilometers south of Malang, East Java, home of Batik Andis.

An appealing countryside landscape welcomes visitors to the village, surrounded by a limestone mountain range stretching toward the southern coast of Java, with lush green sugarcane and coffee plantations to feast their eyes upon.

The small village is home to batik motifs derived from Druju's natural and cultural background, hence, the name Druju batik is very popular among consumers.

The showroom, displaying batik clothes and fabrics, tempts customers as they enter the house-cum-gallery managed by a married couple, Andik Subagiyo, 53, and Atik, 48.

The place opened in 1996 and Atik and Andik have adopted the Malang style to inform their batik patterns.

The production house employs dozens of workers, mostly local housewives, who are free during the day, as well as teenagers.

"We initially employed several skilled batik makers from Lamongan, East Java, to share techniques with us. But for the last five years we've been independently creating our products in our own style," said Atik.

Batik Andis' production almost entirely relies on manual skills

although some items are printed.

Another unique feature of this business that distinguishes it from most other batik makers is the method of drawing batik patterns directly onto ready-made cloth.

The production time ranges from a month to a year, depending on the intricacy of the motifs and the fabrics used; some customers wait a long time to obtain certain types of Druju batik works.

"We prioritize product quality rather than mass production profits. Our creativity shouldn't be appreciated with buyers' money or status," said Atik.

Druju batik is also characterized by its pitch-black color, darker than any other batik. The producer comes out with new motifs monthly while earlier motifs that have already been marketed are not remade in order to prevent duplication by other batik makers.

"Exhibitions usually become an arena for imitation. But we don't care as our artistic flair can't be pirated," Andik said.

Druju batik motifs feature a variety of designs, from working farmers, butterflies to coastal elements.

Crafted by applying complicated techniques, these products are sold at prices starting from 400,000 rupiah (US$35).

Andis' Druju batik industry has no other outlets, meaning buyers have to visit the gallery to secure Druju batik, allowing them to observe the batik making process and make requests for their preferred designs.

Druju batik pieces have taken part in government sponsored

exhibitions, with clothes shown abroad in Italy, the U.S. and South Korea.

"Many are unaware that when they purchased batik abroad, they've bought our products," Atik says.

Aman Rochman is a contributor to The Jakarta Post

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