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A worker hung freshly died batik in Solo, Indonesia (Photo: Ed Wray for The International Herald Tribune)

For Indonesians, it is a point scored in a long-running rivalry with their neighbor Malaysia: The United Nations has decided to recognize Indonesian batik as one of the world’s important cultural traditions.

After a run of what Indonesian nationalists view as Malaysia’s poaching of its culture, the announcement last week that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization would add batik to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list at a ceremony at the end of this month was especially welcome. To celebrate, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked all Indonesians to wear batik on Oct. 2.

“It is so important that the world finally recognize and acknowledge batik as an Indonesian heritage,” said Obin, one of the country’s leading fashion designers. “It is a part of our soul.”

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Peter Gelling
New York Times

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