Monday, September 02, 2013

Repatriation of Stephanie Belfrage's Batak Textile Collection and Ibu Devi's Resolve

I was deeply moved when Stephanie Belfrage said that she and her husband George were going to try to come to the repatriation ceremony of their Batak textiles. The arrived in Jakarta late on Thursday night and on Friday morning I was with them in their hotel lobby. 

Kamaruddin Simanjuntak had kindly loaned us one of his cars and so I was able to take Stephanie and George to visit their friend Mara Soekarno. (I had already been there a few days earlier to fetch Stephanie's textiles and bring them for accessioning to Museum Tekstil.) The lunch that Mara offered us was extraordinarily delicious!! And Stephanie was able to meet other friends from that previous moment in her life when she lived in Jakarta.

From Mara's house, we pushed on through dense traffic to Museum Tekstil where we met Pak Indra, the director, and Ibu Mis'Ari, the executive chef. The best part was the attendance of Ibu Devi Pandjaitan, a wealthy champion of Batak culture and Batak youth. She explained the need for a formal organization that would promote and protect Batak textiles. 

Stephanie's textiles are nice, but not exceptional. What makes her collection brilliant is what Stephanie has done with it. She has given it back to Indonesia where it serves as an inspiration to others to donate their collections as well. Her collection has 'primed the pump' as it were. And it was the singular factor that inspired Ibu Devi Panjaitan's resolve to set up a formal Batak textile group. She announced this during the afternoon repatriation ceremony on the first day of our Taman Mini event. Afterwards I said to MJA Nashir, "If only this is the result of Pulang Kampung III, it has already been a singular success." And "The erection of this body to protect and promote Batak textiles could have a longer-lasting influence than anything else that we have done." May this council of Batak textiles act wisely.

The repatriation of Stephanie's textiles was the perfect complement to our launch of Pulang Kampung III. Both are about bringing energy back to the villages, whatever the form.

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