Batik-makers harness Mangroves to serve eco-dyes demand

Indonesian Batik-makers harness Mangroves to cater to serve eco-dyes demand

Natural dyes may not have the prickly glare of synthetic dyes as their Constancy wears over time but their subtle hues never fail to evoke an eternal romance with nature. Sodikin, 48, and his group of batik makers in Indonesia have shifted from chemical materials to eco-friendly mangrove-based products for colouring which cut costs as well.

The UNESCO designated tradition of making batik, wax-resist dyeing technique applied to whole cloth is found in various countries, including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria; the batik of Indonesia, however, is most sought after as  Java has a long history of acculturation, with diverse patterns influenced by a variety of cultures, and is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique, and the quality of workmanship.

Ambling across the bucolic mangrove forest in central Indonesia, a grove distinguished by its big, wooden stilt roots, Sorkin and his party search for fallen mangrove fruits that rest on leaves or float on the water. Gathering a handful of what looks like string beans, the man, a batik craftsman, heads home to make natural dye from them.

Indonesian Batik-makers harness Mangroves to cater to serve eco-dyes demand

Indigo is the most commonly known natural dye which was quite sought after commodity exported from India during colonial days but Mangroves certainly play a vital role in Indonesia in terms of both as environment protectors- serving as barriers against tsunamis and effective absorber of carbon dioxide emissions and as purveyors of natural pigments. Batik is a traditional Indonesian dying used in patterns and drawings, typically on fabric and finished textiles.

Batik workers claim that they don’t axe any trees in order to extract the dyes, they only collect fallen leaves and fruits. According to Erwin Ardli, a mangrove ecologist at Jenderal Soedirman University in Indonesia, despite being duller than synthetic dyes, natural dyes are more environmentally sustainable and have a greater market value because of their quality and durability.

Of late the interest in natural dyes has increased among patrons, especially in middle- to upper-class people, they seem to be proud to wear clothes using these natural dyes rather than synthetic dyes. Hence natural dyes can fetch two-fold benefits in contrast to synthetic ones.

Images by Reuters

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