Master craftsman Khairi keeps batik block-making tradition alive

SULAIMAN JAAFAR


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.”