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Batik: Our Gift Bags Have Heritage

November 11th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

batikOur reusable gift bags are hand dyed in Indonesia.  You may have already noticed a new page on our site that illustrates and explains the batik dyeing process used to create our beautiful 100% cotton gift bags.  It is a skill that has been handed down through many generations in Indonesia.  I was very pleased to find out that UNESCO has recognized batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.  Here is the eloquently written nomination:

The techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik. Clothes with everyday designs are worn regularly in business and academic settings, while special varieties are incorporated into celebrations of marriage and pregnancy and into puppet theatre and other art forms. The garments even play the central role in certain rituals, such as the ceremonial casting of royal batik into a volcano. Batik is dyed by proud craftspeople who draw designs on fabric using dots and lines of hot wax, which resists vegetable and other dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water and repeating if multiple colours are desired. The wide diversity of patterns reflects a variety of influences, ranging from Arabic calligraphy, European bouquets and Chinese phoenixes to Japanese cherry blossoms and Indian or Persian peacocks. Often handed down within families for generations, the craft of batik is intertwined with the cultural identity of the Indonesian people and, through the symbolic meanings of its colours and designs, expresses their creativity and spirituality.

This recognition is especially important as it comes with an expectation that nominees conform to UNESCO ideals such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The finest batik used for traditional ceremonies is amazingly detailed and requires months of skilled labor to create.   Wrapsacks are dyed using a more modern technique involving the use of a copper stamp to apply hot wax to the fabric.  Age old techniques such as using the sun to fix dyes are still employed in the making of our gift bags.

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