Renowned cloth maker/fashion designer and owner of Bin House, Josephine "Obin" Komara, on Wednesday 21stNovember 2013 launched the first ever textile museum on the fabled island of Bali. Simply taking the name "Museum Kain" (Literally meaning the Cloth Museum), the museum is located on the third floor of Beachwalk, an upscale mall situated near the Kuta Beach Area, and is completed with high tech interactive displays, including touch-screen consoles in front of each piece of exhibited cloth.
The museum was opened in a modest ceremony , reported thejakartapost.com. Relatives and guests did not sit on chairs but on pandan mats positioned around colorful and elaborate offerings that combined Javanese and Chinese cultural elements. The centerpiece was the cone-shaped yellow rice tumpeng (Symbolizing Mount Semeru where the gods in Javanese mythology lived ) which is always present in traditional Javanese rituals and ceremonies. Instead of calling it a "soft" or "grand" opening, Obin prefers the term Selametan, a common Javanese ritual to express gratitude and seek divine blessing.
"What we are trying to do today, through this museum, is to remember the past, to cherish the present and to prepare the future. This museum should be a place where our youngsters learn about the beautiful works created and passed on by their ancestors and at the same time be inspired to create their own," Obin said.
Obin added that the idea to build the museum was her husband's, Roni Siswandi, a noted archaeologist and batik connoisseur who passed away early this year. Obin was said to have been brokenhearted and decided to stop the project, but then her son Erlangga "Elang" Komara stepped up and continued the project. "So, this museum was Roni's dream and Elang's achievement," she explained.
The Museum features 61 rare pieces of various Batik cloths on display. Copper batik printing blocks, canting wax pens and dried leaves used for coloring are displayed in glass cases. The Museum also comes with special lighting which combines eco-friendly LED lights and fluorescent tubes that bring out the various pieces to come alive. Adding to the dramatic effect, the winding passageways are purposefully left dark.
The collections are going to be rotated every six months to accommodate Obin and Roni's collection of over 600 rare batiks.
Obin has gained national recognition for her work to conserve and promote batik as well as for her philanthropic work across the archipelago. Obin Komara began collecting vintage cloth pieces from all over Indonesia in the mid 1970s. Obin's search to find contemporary fabrics that could compare with the antique textile pieces in her own collection convinced her that the rich heritage of Indonesian textile weaving and dyeing had been almost forgotten in the midst of mass machine production.
Rather than lamenting the passing of an era and the loss of an art, Obin set about breathing new life into the dying handmade cloth industry. Armed with only a handful of spinners, reelers, and weavers, Obin and her team began to produce cloths in the late 70s. In 1986, BIN house opened its first shop in Jakarta, which was soon followed with scores of textile exhibitions, mainly in Japan and in Indonesia.
The exquisite fabrics from BIN house are entirely hand-spun and hand-woven by the finest Indonesian artisans, with no assistance from modern technology. Each piece of cloth is a product of meticulous craftsmanship that often takes months-sometimes a whole year—to finish. The work starts from selecting and processing the fibers into yarn, then preparing the yarns for the intricate weaving using handlooms, then the weavers, "batikers"(Batik painters), and dyers begin their work. Very often, more than 40 artisans are involved in this lengthy and delicate process. The intricate patterns depicting ancient and near-extinct motifs are results of complex methods of fabric weaving and batik dyeing that would take decades to master.
In addition to cloth making, Obin has also participated in international forums such as seminars, symposiums, workshops and discussions on textile making, the most recent of which was "Artisans of South East Asia" a symposium organized by UNESCO and The Toyota Foundation in 2001.
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