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Jarik: Indonesian Heritage Sling

Thursday, December 8, 2016
I tried to write this article in both Bahasa and English. I would be happy if some reader from other countries also read and get to know our Indonesia traditional sling.

When my first daughter born I tried to be comfortable using sling ring and carrier. But how many time I try, I just can not. Yes, my sling ring and carrier are not that high end products. But I see many mother can wear their baby skillfully using the same products. Hence, I think it is not a feature matter.

Basically, I am not a skilled person in every activity required hand skill such as drawing, decorating, cutting, folding, etc. And yes.....cooking also.

Thus, I find it difficult to wrap baby comfortably and insert the tip of the sling to its ring. It is a hard task for me, really.

On my despair, I enforced myself to try jarik, a sheet of fabric with traditional batik pattern. Cause I got a lot of jarik. I got from my mother, cause jarik is common sling in Java.

And I also got more jarik from my mother in law and family from my husband side. My husband is come from Tapanuli, North Sumatra. And it is a tradition in Tapanuli family to give jarik as gift for newborn baby. So I get one from my mother in law, one from grandmother, one from the elder aunty, and the list goes on...

At first I thought jarik is for old generation. Some of my friend said that they will not use jarik cause it is so old fashioned. But I see many women in Jogja use it with ease. From grandmother to new mom, use it everywhere. Even jarik used to carry children when parents ride motorcycle or bicycle.

So I gave it a try....

And voila....after so many attempts, I found jarik is comfortable and fit for me to carry my baby. At first I faced difficulty to tie up the tip of jarik to its other side behind my neck. But practice makes perfect. Finally I can tied it up. And I found jarik is more simple and firm. Therefore I always use jarik wherever I go with my two daughter.

Jarik is not only used for babywearing. Javanesse also use jarik as attire in traditional costume, swaddle, and to carry stuff. Jarik usually has different pattern based on it purpose. Baby wearing jarik has its unique pattern. Altough they have different pattern for different purpose, we still can subtitute them in using. Except for certain pattern, such as jarik for wedding or royal family. For example, we can use tapih, jarik for attire, to carry baby or stuff and also to swaddle baby.

Jarik for sling (picture from here)


Jarik for attire (usually called tapih). It has so...so..so...many patterns. Depends on its origin, purpose, occasion, user, etc. Don't make me to list the pattern, cause I have no knowledge about it. Zero. Shame on me.


When used as attire (picture from here)


Jarik for swadlling baby

Jarik for swaddle is more narrow than for other purpose. I found it also easy to swaddle baby with it, plus...it easy to wash if baby poop in it. But, because main purpose of swaddling baby is to give them warm, the narrow version I think is less preferable. It needed to be improved in thickness and length wise.


Different pattern of jarik from Tapanuli

Jarik I got from Tapanuli is more colourful and has different drawing in it. And has ornament in each tips. My mother in law said, actually they are also from Java. "From Java, back to Java" she said. I am not sure where it is from. I always forget to read the tags before I remove them. But my guess is from Pekalongan or Cirebon (but I also not sure about my guess, so it is very not reliable).


My mother in law wearing baby using jarik 


Jarik to carry stuff (picture from here)

For those mom who not very fond of its traditional pattern, maybe can try the modern version. I found it in Gerai Laktasi (picture is in below). I think, it basically same with jarik but with cute pattern and maybe from different kind of cotton. But I didn't try it yet.



So far I feel sufficient with my traditional jarik. I have too many jarik to try the modern sling one. But I always do not mind to receive Ergo or Manduca. Or i Angel. Hehe
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