Nia S. Amira / Mardiah Faraz
If you have the opportunity to go to Venezuela, you can find an oasis of the archipelago amongst magnificent buildings in the “rich area” of Caracas. Designer Liliana Avila, quite famous, displays the works of Indonesian Artists featuring Mega Mendung motif of Cirebon, familiar as the city of shrimp. In fact, most of Venezuelan society understand concerning batik, the Indonesian heritage, and even outstanding batik in Latin style but keeps the touch of Indonesia has been displaying in many stores in the capital.
Prianti Gagarin Djatmiko-Singgih has just accomplished her duty last January 2016 as Ambassador to the Republic of Bolivarian Venezuela as well as to other five countries; The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Commonwealth of Dominica, and Saint Lucia has the feeling of high moral responsibility to bring Indonesia in good way in the entire world, including the introduction of arts and culture in the country. This middle-aged woman who likes to design her own clothes with various Indonesian textile of various regions and combine with gorgeous jewelry mostly designed by herself always charm her fellow diplomats in the country known as The Land of Grace.
Every work has always a challenge, as well as Prianti when starting her duty as Ambassador of Indonesia in Caracas. There are many threats asking for ransom kidnappings, including families of the staff of foreign representatives serving in Caracas in a vulnerable economic conditions at that time. Prianti herself reluctantly sent back her only son to Indonesia for security reasons since she had been caught in situations of armed conflict between the National Guard and the demonstrators from the opposition.
Venezuela has its status as prone country in January 2016 after fighting for three years in order the diplomats who are in charge can get security facilities to support their work, including Indonesian diplomats in Caracas.
Prianti has tried to introduce various leading Indonesian products previously such as petroleum, food products, spa products and herbs, culinary, furnitures, tourism, including shoes made in Indonesia. But among these products, batik is the most acceptable. Batik is acceptable because batik is unique creative economy product that combines the art and economy so it is more easily accepted in the Latin American countries of Latin that upholds the art and beauty.
From “Kain Show” to the fashion show she wears herself every day in formal occasion to casual clothes, while performing at various events diplomat, which were covered by local printed and electronic media. Her efforts were not in vain and batik began to glance and attract the attention of the Venezuelan, especially among the fashion world.
Elvira Pares, Director of the Instituto Brivil, the most prestigious Fashion School in Venezuela, offered her as the jury of a fashion competition. Prianti accepted willingly and after finished that event, other offers started towards her, one of them was a guest lecturer teaching the knowledge of traditional fabrics.
Through that opportunity, Prianti introduced batik, from the history and philosophy, foreign cultural influences in Indonesian batik, a variety of diverse style batik by type and region of origin of manufacture, to the process of making batik.
Her explanation of how to manufacture a piece of batik cloth that requires a long process and creativity of high art amazed her students.
Her students were very enthusiastic and the teaching plan which eventually only for 6 months was extended to 2 years. A number of 35 people from about 300 students at the Instituto Brivil finally chose batik as their topic for the final thesis.
Prianti had the opportunity to broaden her teaching to several cities having the university or fashion institute in Venezuela like in Maracaibo and Maracay.
The high enthusiasm of the Venezuelan for batik giving her the idea to create a Fashion Design Competition by using Indonesian Batik as a theme in designing the fashion, such as: clothes resort, office attire, gala clothing for men and women. 4 designs fashion-winning works in 2013 used as illustrations in Indonesia stamps for one year in 2014.
Public response in Venezuela to batik continues to increase and in 2014 the second competition was held in Indonesian batik fashion designing. This time the 2 winners will be able to get the scholarship to study batik and fashion respectively at ISI (Institut Seni Indonesia) in Yogyakarta and Bandung.
Besides batik program for fashion, she also organized programs for batik art and the result is the forerunner of Latin American-style batik design. With a combination of Araguaney design motifs which is the national tree of Venezuela and Mega Mendung motifs from Cirebon.
Then created Mascara de Yare mask motif with a background of Truntum motif and a scarf with Guacamaya bird motif and Venezuela’s national flower, the orchid with a background of Truntum motif. Batik artists and Venezuelan fashion designers also incorporates a wide variety of coastal style motif with brightly colored into a new design.
Mother of Dhanang Sengkalit Djatmiko then created a place for the Batik lovers community by the name of Chanting Club and whose members not only fashion school students but also several Ambassadors, artists, fashion designers, government officials and private sector, fashion lovers, students, as well as public.
Canthing Club has 2 activities which are batik for art that will teach you the process of making batik and batik fashion for batik creations in various kind of fashion, including batik handbags and shoes made in Indonesia, collaboration between the Indonesian Embassy and the Venezuelan designers. The activities were done solely to show the richness and uniqueness of batik as an alternative in fashion textiles to the Venezuelan.
She took Bayu Aria and Novita Yunus from Yogyakarta flying to Venezuela nto share the knowledge of batik and presenting their master pieces.
Her love for batik is very huge, and the wife of Herman Djatmiko who is also a diplomat then collecting a variety of teaching materials about batik and assisted by a creative team from the Embassy, Prianti arranged her new book, the first reference about batik in Spanish with the title: “La Diplomacia del batik, de tradicion a una opcion de moda chic “(Batik Diplomacy: from a tradition of being chic choice for fashion). Due to the large demand for the book, it has been eventually translated into English and as many as four editions have been printed in two languages: Spanish and English.
She has the awards Anugrah Perempuan Indonesia 2015 from HAPI (Association Anugerah Perempuan Indonesia) and from the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection as a woman in Cultural Preservation, as well as the Award of Dedal de Oro de las Americas from Instituto of Brivil as meritorious who encourages the creative economy through batik and fashion in Venezuela and this is a token of appreciation for her hard work during her Ambassador’s duty.
The tangible results have been achieved during the first three years of her promotion in Indonesian heritage. In the history of bilateral relations between Indonesia and Venezuela for 56 years in 2014, textile exports have become the major with an export value of 25 million dollars of the total exports of 39 million dollars.
Batik has been hypnotizing gorgeous Venezuelan women. Batik is very popular in Venezuela and every one always connects Batik when identifying Indonesia and Prianti has been given a special name by her diplomat fellows: Embajadora de Batik.
As a straightforward woman but in Javanese style and with a heavy burden to be a bridge between the state of bilateral relations with a variety of unique things, Prianti always has high spirit and a sincere heart for the good sake of Indonesia. She becomes now as Madame Ambassador of Batik and the people of Indonesia should be proud to have this millennium Kartini who is not only beautiful but also has a high moral responsibility for her land and nation. Welcome back home …