Historical Background of Wood Carving, Rattan and Umbrella Handicraft in Indonesia

In this article, we will show about historical background of wood carving, rattan handicrafts and umbrella handicrafts in Indonesia. This article are written by Satyawati Hadi.

a. The Wood Carving Industry

Wood carving in Jepara started in the 15th century. It was originally considered an art form. Products were exclusively owned by the nobility and were not for commercial consumption by the common people. The development of the industry was very slow and it went unnoticed until the 18th century when Kartini, the first Indonesian woman leader, popularized the art form. Wood carvers began producing articles for trade from that time.

history handicrafts indonesia

Wood Carving From Jepara

Major institutional assistance to the industry began in 1966/67 when the government established a Unit for Technical Assistance (UPT for Unit Pelaksana Teknis) in Jepara. The objectives of the UPT were:

  •  to promote the production and the marketing of handicrafts products;
  •  to help household manufacturers and small-scale firms improve processing techniques and business management skills;
  • to train craftspersons in the use of machinery;
  • to improve the design and quality of wood handicrafts
  • to assist with funds and licencing and other problems.

At the establishment of the UPT there were around 500 wood-carving production units operating at various levels of production.

The industry began to boom in the 1970s with the provision of this technological guidance and market information by the Department of Industry. By 1984, about 1,560 units were in operation, dispersed over 7 districts covering 77 villages and employing around 16,000 skilled labourers.

b. The Rattan Handicrafts Industry

Not much is known about the history of the rattan handicraft industry in Cirebon County. It was recorded that the industry was started in 1936 in Tegalwangi Village of Plumbon District by a craftsman named Samaun, a resident of Bodelor Village. Before starting his own business he worked with a Chinese rattan cane trader who manufactured window screens and other handicrafts made of rattan. As time went on, the people of the village began to develop their rattan handicraft skills and these were then transferred to the younger generations and to surrounding villages.

Rattan handicraft from indonesian handicrafts manufacturer

Rattan Handicraft From Indonesia

In 1974 the Institute for Research, Education and Social Economic Development (LP3ES for Lembaga Penelitian, Pendidikan dan Pengembangan Ekonomi dan Sosial) conducted a survey of small-scale industries in West Java which noted this growing rattan industry. As a follow-up, LP3ES trained several craftspersons and entrepreneurs to improve the design and quality of products and efficiency of management. Training was conducted twice, each session lasting 6 months. In 1974 a cooperative of rattan handicraft manufacturers and entrepreneurs was established. However this has since broken down, as the executive board of the cooperative is dominated by a few big firms who work for their own interests.

c. The Umbrella and Clog Handicrafts Industry

The umbrella and clog handicraft industries of Tasikmalaya were very famous in the past. As with most FBSSEs, their products which are now made for markets were originally made for local household consumption. The umbrella making industry was in existence by 1885 when the products were made by the people for their own use. Manufacturing for sale was started in 1903 by an Indonesian, Mr. Bun Wan, of Chinese descent. The factory was located in Babakan Payung* Village, a township of Tasikmalaya. From there, umbrella making spread to other districts in the area.

* Payung means umbrella in Bahasa Indonesian.

The industry boomed in the 1950s with over 600 households and firms engaged in the umbrella handicraft business. But in 1964, many firms went out of business because of competition from imported plastic umbrellas. As a result, only two units were engaged in the umbrella-making industry in 1980 and four were reported in 1984.

The commercial clog-making industry is of more recent origins. In their early development, dogs were very simple and used lower quality woods. This industry boomed during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s because shoes and raw materials for their manufacture were not available. Since that period the quality of clogs began to improve. The heels and the sides of the soles were carved artistically. It was at this time that the industry gained its popularity in the country. Its center was Kampong Rahayu of Sukahurip village in Cirebon District, Tasikmalaya County.

From 1962 to 1966, the demand for clogs increased dramatically. As substitute materials like rubber and plastic began to take over the domestic market, the industry had a brief export boom from 1975-1980, when Australia provided the major market for Indonesian dogs. However, problems with quality control resulted in a dramatic drop in local production. At the moment, only two firms are engaged in clog making, principally because of their determination to preserve the tradition.

Source : FAO

Posted on 7 June 17 at 15:11

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