TUARAN, April 11 – Circa 1982, Rothman A Buntar was a young man with a desire to learn batik making, a craft famously associated with the east coast states of Terengganu and Kelantan.
However, back then, batik operators in the states were not keen to teach the art to private individuals, accepting only university students sent for training by their institutes.
“I had to brave myself and pretend to be a public university student because I really wanted to learn the basic skill of batik canting (batik making) from batik makers in Kelantan and Terengganu,” he told Bernama recently.
Some 38 years later, Rothman, 70, is now a renowned batik maker in Sabah, the first from his Dusun Lotud tribe to do so.
Under the brand Rothman Batik, his workshop in Kampung Marabhai, Tuaran, operating since 2002, has been creating exclusive batik nature-themed batik designs, including sea creatures, space elements, as well as flora and fauna.
Rothman said he had, in fact, started Rothman Batik in Kota Kinabalu in 1989, by producing local batik pattern blocks.
He said with the little, yet precious knowledge he had gained from the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, he has been able to survive for three decades in the batik industry.
His attempt to introduce ethnic Dusun Lotud elements through batik patterns has also attracted many batik lovers from overseas such as Europe, Russia and Mexico, who visited his workshop.
“My batik are mostly bought by tourists as souvenirs. There were those who came back after several years, just to get new patterns,” said the recipient of the 2010 Anugerah Emas National Myskill Batik Competition.
He revealed a company from China, based in Kota Kinabalu, has been exporting Rothman Batik products to the country since 2018, which he considered as a big success in the industry.
“I am grateful that I have been bestowed with talent and skills in this field,” said Rothman, who is also a singer whose talent was first discovered through national singing contest Bintang RTM in 1972.
Rothman, who is still actively performing with the Seniman Senior Sabah 1969 Club and producing singles in Kadazan and Dusun Lotud dialect, wishes to continue making batik for the rest of his life, as long as he is able to, for self-therapy.