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As Thai silk has gained popularity among Japanese, Indonesia is seeking ways to have its batik follow suit.

At a recent batik seminar in Tokyo, prominent batik designer Iwan Tirta repeated his calls for establishment of an authorized batik mark to prove the authenticity of the products to promote global sales.

“Many printed batiks are sold as if they are real ones,” Iwan said. “If there is such an Indonesian batik mark, even people who don’t know about real Indonesian batik can recognize what a real one is.”

The batik mark could help distinguish authentic Indonesian handmade batik, not only from similar products made in Malaysia and Thailand, but also from printed batik, including those made in some Indonesian provinces, he said.

“It’s like a car with the Toyota mark that is never misunderstood as a Nissan car,” he said with a smile at the seminar organized by the Japan Indonesia Economic Forum.

The man, tasked by the Indonesian government to promote the country’s authentic batik products, stressed that Indonesian batik is different from that made in other countries.

“Malaysian batik, for example, is under the strong influence of Islam,” he said. “But Indonesian batik is free from any religious regulations.”

Malaysian batik motifs are made in line with the teaching of Islam, under which depicting animals is improper, he said.

In contrast, Indonesian batik is affected by several religions, such as Hindu and Islam, as well as by Chinese and European cultures. Its motifs are geometric figures, such as squares and diagonal lines, or nongeometric figures, like flowers, trees, birds and animals.

Iwan said that spreading the right knowledge is vital to improving the batik’s brand value and helping it make inroads into the international market.

The theory is effective as Thai silk succeeded in obtaining international acclaim thanks to the dedicated promotion by Thailand’s Queen Sirikit, he added.

In fact, Iwan had visited Japan five times with many models for fashion shows to sell Indonesian batik, but this time he came to explain batik itself.

Iwan is not the only one trying to distinguish a traditional craft from others.

Japan’s “kyo yuzen,” a dyed textile developed in Kyoto for the traditional kimono, also faces difficulties in building a clear brand image different from other types of kimono textiles, including “nishijin” and “kaga yuzen.”

The kyo yuzen cooperative attaches a seal on kyo yuzen kimono stating that it is made in line with government-authorized techniques stemming from more than 100 years of history. But it is considering another mark for the textile.

The Kyoto association plans to create a mark this fall that shows the textile is made in the Kyoto region to clearly distinguish between those made in Kyoto and similar products made overseas, including China, and other places in Japan.

But in Indonesia, setting up a batik mark is not easy. Despite Iwan’s long-running calls for a batik label, it has yet to be made due largely to protests from manufacturers of low-quality batiks.

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