UNESCO Declares Batik Originates from Indonesia

The Indonesian government announced that UNESCO would soon name batik as an intangible cultural heritage. The listing, which will give the age-old batik tradition some degree of protection under the UNESCO charter, will be made official at an event in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, 2 October. In the past, Malaysia, in its tourism promotion campaign/advertisement, claimed the ownership of batik.

Batik is a wax-resistant dyeing technique used on textiles. Due to modern advances in the textile industry, the term is also used for fabrics incorporating traditional batik patterns that are not necessarily produced using traditional batik techniques. While batik originated in Javanese courts, several other regions in Indonesia also have their own styles of batik. The fabric is also widely worn in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

In the past, Indonesians, mostly adults, wear batik only at formal events. Nowadays it has become increasingly popular even among the younger generation. In addition, many office workers now wear batik on a daily basis. Batik factories have also started to manufacture more friendly and fashionable batik outfits.

In 2003, the UN body named wayang (Indonesia’s traditional shadow puppets) and keris (traditional wavy blades) as elements of non-material cultural heritage. “Now we are submitting angklung (traditional musical instrument made of bamboo) as an element of global cultural heritage from Indonesia. We will keep fighting for our heritage one tradition at a time,” said Culture and Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik.

In response to UNESCO’s decision, Indonesia’s President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has asked all Indonesians to wear batik on October 2nd.

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