A visit to Senden village, the home of lurik

Lurik is one of Indonesia's traditional hand-woven fabrics, known for its consistent use of straight-line patterns.

It might be less popular than another Java-origin fabric, batik, but the people of Java use lurik on plenty of occasions as it is a common fabric for surjan (Javanese men's long-sleeved shirts).

The fabric was first introduced in the region of Yogyakarta and Solo.

Unlike batik, authentic lurik weavers are a rare sight these days; only a few of them managed to survive, but it is not because of a lack of demand for the fabric.

Purwanto from Senden village in Sukoharjo regency at the southern part of Solo is one of the remaining owners of a lurik manufacturing business. He owns 80 non-mechanical looms (ATBM), most of which are loaned to houses in the neighborhood.

These looms produce an average of 1,200 meters of fabric each day; each one of them is capable of weaving 20 meters of fabric in a day. The products are sent to the market and managed by Purwanto's daughter, Ernawati.

"Our turnover each day is around Rp 40 million (S$4,208) to Rp 50 million," said Ernawati.

By those numbers, the lurik business is actually a very profitable one, but it would not be so without the extra effort done by Ernawati and her family in order to promote it.

Originally, lurik was commonly made with darker colour tones compared to batik. The texture of the fabric also feels rough, thus it might make you wonder whether it is comfortable to wear. As a result, lurik weavers improvise with the fabric to make it into something more fashionable.

They started creating lurik with different patterns and brighter colors; the symbolical lines are still used, but changes have been made. This resulted in a popular "drizzling rain" pattern; the lines are rather randomly placed instead of symmetrically positioned and shorter too, to imitate raindrops in a drizzle.

This pattern comes with the philosophy - as many other lurik patterns often do - of fertility and welfare. It is so due to the drizzle pattern representing a rain that brings fertility. Such a philosophy made the pattern popular among businessmen hoping for prosperity.

The people in Senden village are also pushing for their place to be recognised as the home of lurik. You can shop for lurik here, produced in a wide range of end-products: from bags made of lurik to a fusion fabric combining lurik and batik. People can also watch the whole process of lurik-making.

A lurik that spans 100 by 200 centimeters is priced from Rp 70,000 to Rp 150,000, depending on the patterns.