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Meet the leaders of Papuan batik culture

Nethy Dharma Somba
Nethy Dharma Somba

The Jakarta Post

Jayapura, Papua | Mon, March 13, 2017 | 01:57 pm
Meet the leaders of Papuan batik culture

The mesmerizing view of Lake Sentani in Jayapura, Papua. (Shutterstock/File)

The Papuan Putri Dobonsolo (Dobonsolo Women) group in Sentani, Jayapura regency, is committed to developing and introducing Papuan-motif batik to the public.

"The Papuan-motif batik that we develop here, called the Yoniki motif, is the signature motif of Sentani and only used by ondofolo and ondoafi [tribal chiefs]. The motif has seven derivatives and has been patented by Putri Dobonsolo," group founder Mariana Pulanda Ibo, 98, also known as Mama Ibo, told The Jakarta Post at her home during the inauguration ceremony of the Putri Dobonsolo Gallery.

Mama Ibo's house has also served as the group's workshop center for Papuan youths who are interested in participating in the development of the region's signature batik.

Established in 1996, the group's production currently still relies on orders, particularly from the church. "The customers who order our fabric are only church people; nothing yet from the administration," she said.

Mama Ibo is said to be the first generation of Papuan natives to have received batik-making training; she was sent by the Irian Jaya Development Foundation to Java to participate in the workshop back in 1995. "I was very interested in batik-making since it was a new thing in Papua; all we knew back then were the cultures of carving and painting. That is why I want the batik-making to be a new [popular] skill in Papua."

Read also: Batik: A cultural dilemma of infatuation and appreciation

Srimiati Ibo, 42, holding a canting, teaches batik-making to Sofia, 16, a student of SMK 5 Jayapura state vocational school. (JP/Nethy Dharma Somba)

In addition to selling batik fabric from Sentani, the gallery also hosts a batik-making workshop center. "Regencies frequently send women here to learn batik-making; I'm very happy that the Papuan people have started to pay attention to this culture."

Around 20 employees work at the gallery and all Mama Ibo's children have also followed their mother's passion for batik-making. One of her daughters, Srimiati Ibo, 42, is one of the teachers at the workshop. "We are autodidacts; we have seen our mother and employees making batik since we were teenagers," said Srimiati.

Schools reportedly also send their students to the gallery to learn batik-making. Sofia, 16, from SMK 5 Jayapura state vocational school has been participating in the workshops for a year. "I started learning batik-making a year ago and I also take batik-making courses at school," she said.

Bank Indonesia (BI) Jayapura office head Joko Supratikto, who attended the gallery inauguration ceremony, said the central bank supported Putri Dobonsolo because of its passion for developing the region's creative industry with women as the main force. "[BI] always supports women’s creative businesses since women are the driving force of the Papuan economy," he said. (kes)