The thousand-year old art of Batik in the digital age
Institutional Communication Service
17 August 2020
As a contribution to the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence, occurring August 17, the UNESCO Chair in ICT to develop and promote sustainable tourism in World Heritage Sites at USI Università della Svizzera italiana unveils iWareBatik digital technologies, an online platform and mobile app designed to showcase and communicate the cultural values of Batik tradition, which has been inscribed by UNESCO within the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Batik, the renowned ancient art form consisting in wax-resist dyeing of fabric, is most highly developed in the island of Java in Indonesia, where it was introduced through merchants from India during the heyday of the Silk Road maritime trading period (ca. 2-15 CE). Batik has intrinsic semiotic and symbolic meanings, with sacred motifs used by notable individuals (e.g. royalty) and at specific events (e.g. weddings, State occasions, etc).
Batik is a textile-making tradition in Indonesia that was inscribed by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. The iWareBatik website and the corresponding mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices, serve to help international and Indonesian Batik stakeholders to identify the variety of Batik textiles, the philosophical values behind the motif, its place of origin, and useful information about local producers. Since Batik defines the culture of each region in Indonesia, iWareBatik also features information about Indonesian tourism related to Batik in the 34 provinces across Indonesia.
The project was realised with the support of the Indonesian LPDP scholarship, Sobat Budaya Cultural Association, USI eLab, and the UNESCO Chair in ICT to develop and promote sustainable tourism in World Heritage Sites at USI.
As stated by Puspita Ayu Permatasari, a PhD candidate at the USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society, “iWareBatik stands for interactive software of Batik. It can also be interpreted as ‘I am aware of Batik’ or ‘I wear Batik’. iWareBatik aims at reigniting people’s passion for learning and understanding the Indonesian Batik tradition, as intangible cultural heritage. It serves to better communicate the exceptional socio-cultural values of Batik in tourism and fashion contexts through new forms of digital media.”
According to Prof. Lorenzo Cantoni, chair-holder of USI’s UNESCO Chair, “this project is fully in line with the mission and the values of the UNESCO Chair: leveraging on a wise use of digital information and communication technologies in order to promote responsible and sustainable cultural/heritage tourism. In order to do so, it uses two main ingredients: on the one side, high quality information about Batik, its history and related culture, on the other side, the capacity of presenting it through compelling narratives, which are accessible also to travelers and locals who are not experts in this textile heritage”.