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WHAT started out as a small business has turned into a promising industry for siblings Tay Yap Seng, 50, and Tay Lian May, 45. Passionate about batik, the duo started drawing and printing batik designs from their house, near Balok in Kuantan, in 2000 and took orders from villagers nearby. When orders began to pour in, they rented a corner shop in Semambu where they not only produced hand-drawn and block-printing designs but also displayed and taught visitors batik production. A boom in the batik industry several years ago saw the siblings buy a 0.8ha piece of land in Balok here. They then set up a factory to manufacture and sell batik products, including clothes, tablecloth, scarves, handkerchiefs, and souvenirs. The youngest of six siblings, Lian May said Natural Batik Village was a popular one-stop center show factory and tourist attraction that promoted the traditional textile art with popular motifs.

The process of block-printing batik. NSTP/FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

She said people from all walks of life often dropped in to place orders for customized batik block patterns for reunions, family gatherings and as souvenirs for friends. “Besides the walk-in customers, we also have some customers who bring their own patterns, which we will customize based on their budget. “All the batik drawings are exclusive and unique except for the block-printed ones. “Our ready-made designs range from hundreds to thousands of ringgit, while the custom-made ones can be bought for as low as RM100, depending on the material. “For example, printing on cotton will cost less than RM100, while silk can cost up to RM1,000, depending on the sewing method and design,” she said at the factory recently. Lian May said in the past, decorative floral patterns were high in demand. However, these days, many customers prefer to wear abstract batik patterns that give them an elegant and modern look.

A batik kebaya sold at Natural Batik Village in Balok, Kuantan. NSTP/FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

“Young people often choose the abstract designs, which are suitable for weddings and formal events. “The colorful patterns are produced based on one’s creativity and drawing techniques,” she said, adding that Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, who had visited the factory, was a fan of batik. According to Lian May, besides buying batik merchandise, visitors can also gain first-hand knowledge of how batik is processed. “They can go on a tour of our factory without any charge and visit the various sections, including dying, waxing and drying. “We provide the opportunity for schoolchildren to try out batik painting in our workshop and take their paintings home as souvenirs. “We work closely with Pahang Tourism, and travel agencies have been bringing tourists here. “Besides Kelantan and Terengganu, which are popular for their batik designs, we want to promote Pahang batik, which offers different motifs,” she said, adding that her factory had 20 workers. Lian May said since government agencies, schools, associations and people continued to place orders for batik attire, she believes that batik would stay relevant. NST

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