If you are having holiday in Bali, getting unique souvenirs and gifts for your relatives is a must. One of the most typical souvenirs you can get in Bali is “Barong Shirt” or locally known as “Baju barong”. This shirt is very unique and has been becoming popular for domestic and foreign tourists. The naming itself comes from the barong picture shown on the front and back of the shirt. Now, barong shirt has become one of the tourism icons of Bali.
Barong shirt are mostly produced in Gianyar region, in a village named Beng. This village is located in Gunung Agung Street, Gianyar Regency; about 2 km northern of Astina Field, Gianyar. From Denpasar City, this village is approximately 35 km or can be reached in about 45 minutes using vehicles. If you want to observe the whole process of creating barong shirt directly, you can visit this village.
The production of barong shirt in this village is done in traditional way, without any modern or advance textile machine. Actually, this activity has been carried down through generations by the residents of Beng Village, and because of the raising market demands, in the end most of this village’s residents change their profession to barong shirt producer. This shirt is made from rayon fabric. The form of the shirt is made without collar or similar to T-Shirt, with unique feature like every edges of the shirt is not sewn rather left tufted. In general, the process of making this shirt is cutting according to the specified size, coloring, and then drying. After the shirts are all dried, they are drawn with the picture of barong.
In the making process, barong shirt could be differed into two categories: barong shirt with colored fabric base and barong shirt with white fabric base. For the colored fabric, the process could take longer time because of coloring process before it is ready to be drawn. Meanwhile, for the white fabric, the process could be shorter because the picture of barong could be directly drawn without waiting for the coloring process first.
The first process of making colored barong shirt is sewing the fabrics according to the size needed by the market. After that, these shirts are going to be colored. They are tied, with the front and back parts are wrapped with plastic. That way is done to make a white circle pattern which will be the place for drawing barong. These wrapped parts of course will not be exposed by colors during the dyeing process, so these parts remain white. After the dyeing process is finished, the wrappers are opened, and then the shirts are washed and dried. After that, the shirts are ready to be given barong picture. Meanwhile, in the process of making white barong shirts, the barong picture can be directly drawn after the shirts are sewn based on the fix sizes. This kind of shirt’s production is faster and more efficient.
The drawing of barong on the surface of these shirts is done by some workers with particular painting skill. This picture of barong is painted using special colors. Besides that, the equipments used for painting are also special. Firstly, the pattern of barong is drawn on the shirt and after that, the coloring process is done. The painting process for these shirts must be done carefully without mistake because every stroke cannot be erased. This condition is applied for both sketching and coloring process. In the coloring process, only black and red are usually used, because before drawing, the fabrics are already given white naphthol so black will become brown and red will become yellow resulting 4 colors on the shirts.
In a day, the barong shirts makers can produce up to 150 pieces of shirts. These shirts are then distributed to Sukawati Art Market or other shopping centers around Bali. Besides distributed in local market, these shirts are also demanded from outside Bali such as Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, and so on. Not just that, these shirts are also exported to foreign countries like Australia and Netherland.
Buying barong shirt in traditional markets or souvenir markets is indeed easier. However, if you are interested and have a willing to observe directly the process of producing these shirts, you can always visit Beng Village. This kind of tour will surely give you a new kind of unique holiday experience in Bali.