LOCAL batik maker Zainal Abidin Hj Ibrahim has made a name for himself when he became one of the few who pioneered into digital batik making. Unlike traditional batik making, digital batik does not require hand-drawing or the molten wax process.
"What was holding back my batik business in the past was the need for batik pattern artists and the ingredients needed to produce the patterns such as candle wax and material. With digital batik I do not need any of these," said Zainal.
Zainal assures that digital batik making is the same as the traditional batik-making process where the only difference is the design of patterns via digital technology.
"Once the patterns get printed off, we still need to use the fixing of colours onto the material through a steaming process to ensure the patterns and colour will stay. It is a more commercial and technological process than the traditional one," said Zainal.
At 61 years old Zainal is able to master software such as Photoshop Illustrator to come up with his digital batik designs. Zainal comes up with his own designs while he prints and produces them outside of Brunei.
"I can say digital batik has allowed me to bypass the traditional needs of batik making process. It ensured the survival of my batik business," said Zainal.
During the 12-year period in batik business Zainal has learnt that batik designs evolves according to the country where batik thrives. Zainal believes and encourages Bruneians to come up with its own unique batik designs that can be developed through instilling local motives and identities. His batik business has been aspiring to do so.
"Batik is not part of the local tradition but we can come up with our own batik designs with our own identity and values. This is what I am trying to do, offering made-in-Brunei batik," said Zainal.
Zainal realises that it is obvious Brunei would not be able to develop batik at a level which transpires into its culture and tradition such as in Indonesia where batik patterns have been noted to exist since the 12th century or even earlier depending on different sources.
"Indonesia has made batik as part of its tradition. Different patterns are given different names. They have a stock file of their own original designs. Batik is part of the Indonesian tradition which would be very hard to fade," said Zainal.
In 2009, UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity".
Zainal underlined the birth of Malaysian batik in the seventies when it was introduced as a form of art in educational institutions like the then Institute Technology Malaysia (ITM) or presently known as MARA University of Technology(UiTM).
It has been contested whether the origins of batik in Malaysia were brought and taught by Indonesia. However when it was introduced to such institutions it was emphasised the batik designs was to be developed based on more Malaysian designs to ensure more original patterns.
"Young Malaysians then were vigorous towards the aim of creating their very own batik where they instilled designs from the villages around Malaysia," said Zainal.
In terms of batik, Malaysians were more innovative in trying to create their own designs.
Zainal is confident that Brunei has the traditional designs that can be incorporated into local batik designs especially with more alternatives. The batik-making process now is more accessible to wider groups of people with the presence of digital batik making. Zainal now produces his batik design through four different processes; the melting wax process, the batik stamping process, the batik screen printing process and the batik digital making process.
The Batik Desa Mas boutique can be found at the Sumbangsih Mulia Building along Jalan Beribi.The Brunei Times
Sunday, May 13, 2012
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