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photos by gluttonforlife

5.9.11 Indonesian Arts & Crafts: Part 1

With my trusty driver, Toto, in an air-conditioned Toyota minivan, I ventured forth into the heart of Yogyakarta to do a little shopping. Beneath sulky grey skies, the city was smelly and palpably damp. Our hotel is in a rather unattractive neighborhood close to the airport, and the view out the window included some classic Third World sites: shanties with corrugated-tin roofs; entire families perched on a single motorbike, the parents with helmets and the barefoot babies without; scrawny chickens strutting in roadside ditches. The strange dichotomy between progress and tradition is perhaps best summed up by a poster I saw for a local technology convention, featuring an ox-drawn cart laden with the latest computers and electronics. Even the batiks for which I was shopping are evidence of this tension, an ancient craft now more and more being executed with mechanized techniques. Of course, I was in search of the real deal, the artisanal, hand-printed and –dyed version that is so much harder to come by.
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