Please educate me on shopping for traditional Indonesian textiles.
April 7, 2014 9:48 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is visiting Jakarta and will be taking a shopping trip to Pasaraya Grande as part of his tour. I love fabrics and I particularly love traditional dye work (such as batik) and handwoven cloth. However, I don't know much about the textiles of Indonesia, and I've never been there myself. What kinds of pieces are available at the Pasaraya Grande, and how are they priced? I'd like to give him some money and just tell him to get me something awesome -- what could he get for, say, $100 USD? How about $20 USD?

My friend has basically no interest in textiles and won't want to work very hard to find something amazing for me. I'm kind of hoping there's just tons of amazing stuff everywhere there, but I really don't know what he should expect. Thanks for your help!
posted by pupstocks to Shopping (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've not been to this particular shopping center but I have been to similar ones. The challenge is that there will be quite a range in quality. I think your best bet is to familiarize yourself with the types of textiles and what you find attractive in particular and then pass on the images to your friend.

Simplifying things greatly, Javanese batik sarongs can be earthy/neutral/browns and dark blues from central Java or they can be brightly colored/delicate/stylized from the North coast. Batik can be hand drawn (most expensive, can take a year to produce, costing hundred of dollars), made with metal stamps (faster but still considered hand-made), or silk-screened which is mass-produced therefore the cheapest. Note that the label can still describe printed sarongs as "batik" as in "this is a traditional batik motif". Printed batik has a "wrong" side whereas true batik has the saturated color on both sides of the cloth. Also printed batik is very precise with no variation in the motifs.

Since your friend will be buying in a shopping center vs a market, there will be marked prices. Unfortunately I can't help you there. Just ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for 2 meters of hand-batiked cloth (if that's what you want).

Sorry I've got to run.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:26 AM on April 8, 2014

I would suggest that in addition to batik, have your friend look at ikat. I personally enjoy ikat more than batik. As for pricing it's hard to say but everything is negotiable in an Indonesian market. No matter your negotiating skill, for $200 bucks you should be able to get a lot of batik, ikat or other textiles.
posted by lstanley at 7:44 AM on April 8, 2014

Back again. I forgot to say that if you are interested in traditional sarongs, you'll want cotton ones. You've probably seen a ton of fringed rayon ones around. Those are produced for the tourist market and for export. The quality is pretty low.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:54 PM on April 8, 2014

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