Traditional Textile Exhibition: Jakarta, West Java

An upcoming exhibition showcasing more than 100 samples of antique fabrics from around the country — including batik, embroidery and woven pieces — promises a rare and exquisite experience for textile lovers. The main highlight of the exhibition, titled Adi Wastra Nusantara or the Showcase of Traditional Textiles of the Archipelago, will offer the rare opportunity to get a closer look at precious fabrics belonging to some of the country’s leading collectors. The exhibition, scheduled to be opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will take place on April 16-20 at Balai Sidang Senayan exhibition hall in Central Jakarta. The event will celebrate the 100th anniversary of National Awakening Day and welcome the Visit Indonesia Year 2008 program.

“The collectors have allowed us to borrow their precious pieces for the exhibition,” said Adiati Arifin Siregar, president of the Indonesian Traditional Textiles Society, which has organized the exhibition. “It’s a rare thing for them to do.”

Adiati said the exhibition also aimed to improve people’s appreciation of traditional textiles according to Stevie Emilia.

“In the end, (better appreciation) will lead to better livelihoods for textile producers across the country,” she said.

She said, however, that many people did not seem to care about cultural development and preservation.

“But they are shocked and outraged when other (countries) claim Indonesia’s cultural products as their own,” she added.

The exhibition was not the first for the society, which has been working to foster appreciation for textiles while preserving the country’s rich cultural heritage since it was formed back in 1976. The society now boasts some 300 members who come from different backgrounds, including expatriates.

In the upcoming exhibition, more than 100 antique fabric pieces will be displayed at Adi Wastra exhibition hall.

“The hall will display only the heritage pieces, all of which are more than 100 years old. None are for sale,” Adiati said.

The exhibition will also showcase fabrics created by some of the country’s best producers as well as those from Asean countries and China, India and Japan.

Various activities, including fashion shows focusing on traditional textile designs and seminars presenting foreign speakers, talk-show hosts and trade contacts will also be organized during the five-day event.

Space will also be provided for hundreds of fabric producers, many of whom have prepared work especially for the exhibition.

For fabric lovers who want to shop around, there will also be a traditional market atmosphere into one of the exhibition halls.

“To satisfy those wanting to shop, we will have a ‘pedagang kain lesehan’ hall,” said Adiati, referring to the traditional traders’ habit of sitting down with their merchandise scattered in front of them as they trade.

“The atmosphere will be like that found in traditional markets like Pasar Beringharjo in Yogyakarta and Pasar Klewer in Surakarta.”