Kubu is a technique where the harvested rattan is submerged in a pond of mud and leaves for about four weeks - before weaving the baskets. It is a natural treatment against woodworm and other bugs and the rattan changes colour to an earthy pale grey.
Our Fair Trade artisans are located in a village, in the greater region of the city of Cirebon, about 200km south of Jakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia.
It takes about 48 hours from Perth, Western Australia with overnight stays to arrive at the village. It is set in a beautiful hilly area in the Majalengka Regency, West Java with rice fields, vegetable plots and lots of rattan makers, activity and workshops.
The closest city, Cirebon, is a port city about 50km East. The "village" is a collection of families, relatives and associates who help each other with making baskets.
We located this producer group through our network of Fair Trade colleagues who connect with the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). We first visited this producer group in early 2019, to take a look at their workplace, meet the workers and to discuss arrangements with management. However, we have been working with their umbrella organization for about 14 years.
At the village, with our meeting with Mr Onay, we discussed our interest in importing the kubu style of rattan. We were given a great outline of their work, how they trade and what capacity they have to meet our goals of supplying kubu rattan to the Australian market.
The Kubu Rattan Journey ~
1. The rattan is a wild vine that is endemic in areas of Indonesia and has been used for centuries to make baskets for local communities and more recently, in the last 30 years or so, to International markets. Rattan is lightweight, durable, flexible, and attractive.
2. Our production unit is located in the Cirebon region of Java, however, the rattan does not grow in this region. The rattan is harvested from local sources in the neighbouring island of Surawasi.
3. There are many techniques of processing the rattan, one technique is called "kubu".
4. Kubu is a technique where the harvested rattan is submerged in a pond of mud and leaves for about four weeks - before weaving the baskets. It is a natural treatment against woodworm and other bugs and the rattan changes colour to an earthy pale grey.
5. The kubu rattan becomes very flexible which allows the artisans to weave the desired basket. The tools are simple. Feet, hands, snippers and lots of skill!
6. The finished kubu baskets are then trucked up to a warehouse in Jakarta, packed in a shipping container, then transported by the high seas to the port of Fremantle. The container is then delivered to our warehouse in Morley, Perth, Western Australia.
7. The journey is not over, as once we receive orders from our customers, we send the kubu rattan to their shops, their customers purchase them and the final place of residence, so to speak, is in someone's home.
Interesting fact: "Rattan" is a vine material, "wicker" is a style of weave. When you have a wicker basket, it means the basket is weaved in rattan or cane or bamboo.
Interesting fact:"Cane" is basically a part of the rattan plant. It is produced simply by peeling off the skin of the rattan vine.
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