Jakarta. Batik produced with natural dyes are on display during the 10th biannual Gelar Batik Nusantara, or National Batik Exhibition, at the Jakarta Convention Center in Senayan.
Gelar Batik Nusantara has been central to the mission of the Indonesian Batik Foundation (YBI) to develop, preserve and promote batik, both nationally and globally, since 1996.
Natural dyes were chosen for this year's theme to go back to batik's roots and at the same time, promote sustainable fashion to protect the environment from the harmful waste resulting from the use of artificial dyes.
Common plants used to produce natural dyes include indigo leaves, mango leaves, sappan wood and mahogany bark.
Nita Kenzo, the owner of Galeri Batik Jawa and a member of YBI, said the use of artificial dyes in the production of batik started during the Industrial Revolution.
"Batik dyes were derived from plants in the past. It was during the Industrial Revolution that synthetic dyes were introduced. The World Craft Council has been encouraging batik makers to go back to nature since 1986. Now there are more and more batik makers switching back to natural dyes," Nita said during a press conference on Wednesday (07/06).
Around 400 batik makers from across the archipelago have booths at the exhibition where they display and sell batik-based crafts ranging from fabrics, clothes and accessories.
Etna Giatna Singgih, head of the Gelar Batik Nusantara organizing committee, said the event has made a name of itself among batik producers.
"We don't have problems getting brand owners to join this event. They usually wait expectantly for the next exhibition. We always host it during Ramadan because many people are looking for clothes to wear during the Idul Fitri celebration," Etna said.
Besides shopping for batik, visitors can also enjoy batik-making workshops each day, presented by different brands as well as music performances.
A series of talk shows are also in the mix. A talk show titled "Improving the Quality of Natural Dyes" and another titled "Learning the Types of Batik," were presented on Thursday.
Fashion experts from Indonesia Trend Forecasting are scheduled to hold a discussion trends for the next year on Friday, followed by a talk by the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf).
Bekraf will also host a talk show titled "Naturally Colored Batik to Penetrate the Global Market" on Friday.
Environmentalists from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (Kehati) will talk about the diversity of natural dyes on Saturday.
The exhibition, which ends on Sunday, is open between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day. Entry fees are Rp 25,000 ($1.80) per person.