From Rental Apartments to Artistic Masterpieces: The Birth of Batik Marunda

From Rental Apartments to Artistic Masterpieces: The Birth of Batik Marunda

In the heart of Indonesia's vibrant art scene, a unique masterpiece has emerged from an unexpected source – the world of rental apartments. With the skillful hands of local women, a beautiful stroke of artistic brilliance, known as Batik Marunda, has taken the stage.

Originating in 2013, Batik Marunda breathed new life into the art of batik in Indonesia. This innovative style was born when a significant number of Jakarta residents were relocated from slum areas to the Marunda Apartment Complex (Rusunawa Marunda). The transition stirred controversy among the community initially, but gradually, the advantages offered by the Jakarta Provincial Government enticed them to embrace apartment living. From within these apartment walls, the creativity of the residents, primarily mothers, blossomed, ushering in a new era for Betawi batik.

The driving force behind Batik Marunda was none other than First Lady Iriana of Indonesia, who, during her tenure as the wife of Jakarta's Governor Joko Widodo (now President of Indonesia), also served as the Chairwoman of the National Crafts Council for the Jakarta Special Capital Region (Dekranasda DKI Jakarta). Collaborating with the displaced residents who now resided in Rusunawa Marunda, her vision was to turn batik-making into an economic powerhouse for the women of the apartment complex. This movement was further championed by the next Chairwoman of Dekranasda DKI Jakarta Veronica Tan, the spouse of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, then Governor of Jakarta (now President Commissioner of Pertamina). Tan aimed to establish batik-making as an icon of Jakarta and an enduring program to empower local women residing in Rusunawa Marunda.

The journey was not without its challenges. Irma Gamal Sinurat, a key figure in Batik Marunda's development, explained that the initial stages of batik-making were fraught with difficulties, particularly in crafting intricate patterns. However, with time and dedication, these artisans overcame hurdles to create a diverse range of batik designs. Unlike traditional Javanese batik, which adheres to specific design and color rules, Batik Marunda takes a unique approach. The designs, conceptualized by Wendy Sibarani, are left to the artists' interpretation, while the coloring process is entrusted to the batik makers themselves.

Batik Marunda was worn as a creative outerwear piece by Dinda Damarasri, None Jakarta 2022 ©️Instagram/Dinda Damarasri

Batik Marunda proudly showcases the iconic elements of Jakarta, such as the National Monument and the vibrant ondel-ondel figures. Moreover, it introduces motifs inspired by the city's flora and fauna icons, including orchids, jasmine, butterfly pea flowers, sharks, and the graceful fan-tailed bird. As of now, Batik Marunda remains a hand-crafted art form, involving the intricate use of tools like the canting for manual dyeing. There are no immediate plans to transition to stamped or printed batik.

Batik Marunda stands as a symbol of hope, underscoring its capacity to catalyze sustainable economic advancement. This potential is vividly demonstrated through the cultivation of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, not restricted solely to Rusunawa Marunda but seamlessly extending its influence to encompass resilient women across diverse rental apartment communities. As one of the Jakartan icons, Batik Marunda has been proudly worn by Abang None Jakarta, tourism and creative economy ambassadors, at various official events, and by the public during fashion and non-fashion-related occasions alike. This unlikely journey, from humble rental apartments to a radiant tapestry of culture, art, and empowerment, stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of creativity within the hearts of Indonesia's residents.


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Rafa Sukoco

An Indonesian, born into a multiethnic family, with a passion for traveling, culinary experiences, and delving into history and religion. Enjoying life through listening and sharing stories.
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