KHAIRI KEEPS TRA­DI­TION ALIVE

Batik block maker plans to train Ke­lan­tan youths in the art

New Straits Times - - News - SU­LAIMAN JAA­FAR KOTA BARU news@nst.com.my

THE art of mak­ing batik print­ing blocks is dy­ing in Ke­lan­tan, with only a hand­ful of men still ac­tively car­ry­ing out the trade.

One of them is Mohd Khairi Che Mah­mood, 34, from Kam­pung Sun­gai Budu here, who is also the youngest batik print­ing block maker in the state.

The fa­ther of a 10-year-old girl said he started work­ing for master crafts­man in mak­ing batik blocks, Mohd Ghani Mat, af­ter com­plet­ing his Si­jil Pe­la­jaran Malaysia.

“Ghani was a neigh­bour and I spent my free time at his work­shop watch­ing him and his work­ers car­ry­ing out their work.

“I tried my hand at it and tin­kered with the equip­ment, and he did not stop me.

“That is how I be­came in­ter­ested in it,” he said at his house.

Khairi was un­der Ghani’s ap­pren­tice­ship, who is recog­nised by the Malaysian Hand­i­craft Cor­po­ra­tion as an Adig­uru (master crafts­man) for more than six years un­til his teacher moved his work­shop to Tumpat.

“I didn’t fol­low him as the new place is far, about 30km away, and I was con­fi­dent ven­tur­ing on my own.”

How­ever, Khairi, who runs a work­shop at his home, said the new busi­ness was slow and to make full use of his time, he worked part-time print­ing batik at Pan­tai Ca­haya Bu­lan here.

He said his skill at mak­ing print­ing blocks be­came known to sev­eral batik en­trepreneurs and they or­dered their blocks when they needed new ones.

“The busi­ness ex­panded through word of mouth.

“I have re­ceived or­ders from the Hand­i­craft Cor­po­ra­tion and gov­ern­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Prison De­part­ment.”

Khairi said on av­er­age, he re­ceived or­ders for 15 to 20 blocks monthly.

Their prices ranged from RM100 to RM300 each, de­pend­ing on their size and de­sign.

He said he could make a sim­ple block in a day while the big­ger and more com­pli­cated de­signs took about three days.

“My plan is to train lo­cal youths in the art.

“Mak­ing batik blocks is not a sim­ple job but it must be kept alive.

“Oth­er­wise, it will lead to the death of the batik in­dus­try.”

PIC BY FATHIL ASRI

Mohd Khairi Che Mah­mood show­ing batik blocks at his house in Kam­pung Sun­gai Budu, Kota Baru, yes­ter­day.

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