October 3, 2020, 11.44 PM

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo set the tone for this year’s celebration of Indonesia’s National Batik Day by exhorting the public to preserve this tradition and adapt it to contemporary health protocols in the wake of the coronavirus.

“[The Covid-19 [pandemic] should not stop us from celebrating National Batik Day every year on October 2. This [UNESCO Intangible Heritage] from [Indonesia] also has [practical uses] as mask motifs,” Jokowi said on his Instagram account @jokowi.

“So, which batik mask has your favorite [motif]?” he asked in the post, which also featured a batik mask.

Also read: Archeologist Finds Age-Old Mermaid Carving in Papua, Indonesia

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi echoed Jokowi. “We must be able to care, preserve and introduce Indonesian batik to the rest of the world. UNESCO did designate batik as an Indonesian cultural heritage [on October 2] 11 years ago,” she said.

“Indonesia’s challenge today is to preserve and maintain batik [for the future].” She pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has found ways to keep batik viable as an art form.

“They include wearing batik in functions attended by Indonesian diplomats, particularly in official capacities. They are part of our ongoing, tireless efforts to promote Indonesia to the international community.” 

A craftswoman makes batik tulis (written batik), the oldest form of batikDOK. SHUTTERSTOCK A craftswoman makes batik tulis (written batik), the oldest form of batik

Also read: Villager Digs for Stones, Finds Ancient Hindu Relics in Indonesia

“We also helped the batik industry by buying over Rp. 1.6 billion [$107,730.83] worth of batik and other traditional cloth throughout Indonesia. This is the least we can do as the Covid-19 pandemic hit them hard." 

"The ministry's Indonesian Cultural Arts Scholarship Program [PBSI] managed to introduce batik to people from around the world. Three program alumni from Spain, the Czech Republic and Mexico used the skills and knowhow [from the program] to make their own batik and sold it online in the European and Mexican markets.”

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