First Indian businessman in Malaysian Batik-making competition

June 23rd, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 23 (IANS) Indian origin businessman Ramesh Chugani is an unusual entrant to a Malaysian Batik-making competition, Piala Seri Iman, as the first Indian and a non-Malay in a preserve of the ethnic Malays. Chugani, 57, had spent a major part of his life selling batik work and garments, but took to designing them a decade back. He hopes to win a prize at the prestigious national design competition this year being held at Kuala Terengganu.

The father of three said he could not muster enough courage to compete in the past three annual competitions, but decided to try his luck this year and become not only the first Indian but the first non-Malay from the state to take part.

“I am practically self-taught in this field but while I try to come up with new designs based on flora, fauna and marine life, I also make it a point to re-introduce the old tried-and-tested patterns such as pucuk rebung, lancang kuning, retak seribu and ketupat belah,” the New Straits Times quoted Chugani.

Going into details that only the local ethnic Malay artisans revel in, Chugani said: “For me, the key to bringing batik back to its former glory is by making batik products affordable to as many people as possible, on top of finding ways to re-kindle the love lost between batik and the many people here who find it easier by the day to ignore the craft altogether.”

“Unlike many who paint and print batik on silk or other types of textile, I prefer to do it on T-shirts (and T-shirt material) as I feel it is the best way to introduce batik to modern times, when only a few old-timers wear batik sarong, batik shirts and dresses to mostly formal functions.”

Chugani, who specialises in batik T-shirts, said being born and bred in Malaysia meant he was no stranger to batik and admitted to being “too comfortable” lounging at home in just ‘batik sarong’, although he claimed he no longer roamed the town clad in the garment as he used to in his childhood.

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