CELEBRATING ONE OF THE MOST ESSENTIAL PARTS
OF MALAYSIAN IDENTITY AND HERITAGE
Our batik pockets are traditionally handmade by three artisans in Terengganu, a state on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. While there are various types of Batik, we focus specifically on ‘batik cop’ (block batik).
Batik block usually uses shaped copper strips made from recycled tin cans, zinc or other disposable metals.
It is hard not to marvel at the beauty of Malaysian batik - the colours reflect the warm weather, the floral and geometric patterns are simply exquisite, and each piece requires a labour of passion and perseverance.
And it goes without saying, no two-pieces are the same.
OUR SEARCH FOR THE DWINDLING ARTISANS
We made it our mission to find the traditional Terengganu’s batik artisans for INKAA t-shirts. So we started by strolling along the narrow passageway of fabric stores at Pasar Payang, each stacked with plethora of batik designs to choose from (though mostly are imported or screen-printed).
One store keeper after another pointed us towards Seberang Takir, where “you can probably find 2 or 3 batik workshops”. At its height, there were over 300 batik artisans in the area before rapid industrialisation of the 90s and the economic crisis at the end of the decade contributed to the rapid decline in batik craft.
We stepped on the colourful penambang boat and paid the RM1 fare to get across the river to Seberang Takir Jetty.
Our most obvious start was Wan Azhar batik (probably the most well-known batik maker in Terengganu), only to find an abandoned workshop.
The daughter of late Wan Azhar answered the door and explained that they only have one artisan left and do not take any custom orders.
Disappointed with what we saw, we wandered along the Seberang Takir river bank before a salam from a guy sitting on his beranda stopped us. After explaining the reason we were there, he brought us to the back of his neighbour’s house.
We knew all hope was not lost when the peculiar smell of hot wax greeted us upon arrival.
And that’s how we get to know three experienced batik makers who will be making custom-designed batiks for the pockets of our t-shirts!
WE BELIEVE that EDUCATION IS KEY TO PRESERVATION AND CONSERVATION OF THE HERITAGE OF BATIK
The challenges that are currently being faced by the batik industry in Terengganu include:
Batik used to be an essential part of the
daily lives of
Modern printing machines lead to faster production and cheaper prices
Difficult to recruit permanent workers, especially among the youth
one block maker left
An over 60 years old man is one and only block maker left in