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Anneke Kusumodiardjo
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Blue Ginger is an expression of a lone hobbyist, out to passionately spread the word about the Peranakan culture. A recent exploration of this enthusiast's family heritage brought with it the discovery of some ties to famed Pekalongan (a city in Java) Batik makers of old, most of whom have passed, and those who remain are the last of their generation, in a craft that has been under appreciated for far too long, and an industry severely compromised by the demands of modern commerce. As the renaissance of the Peranakan identity is flourishing throughout Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, we are reminded of the story of the Peranakan batik tulis: one of a coming together of various cultures - Arabian, European, Indian, Javanese, Chinese - a reflection of the true spirit of multiculturalism which seems to have been ahead of its time. A forgotten virtue. One which reminder appears to be much needed in our current time. Blue Ginger is an attempt to contribute to this conversation. We are not currently for profit, and the main aim for this platform is to fund enough explorations to better understand this unique culture through the appreciation of its cultural objects.

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I was born in a country known in ages gone by as the Dutch East Indies, and spent some of my formative years in the island of Java. In the tumultuous early days of the Republic, it was caught in the battle between the world's "Eastern Block" and the "Western Block". Between the two giant opposing powers of the time, communism and capitalism. Each block of nations tried to carve up their own territory in the world, out of the freshly independent nations which sprung up throughout Asia and Africa at the end of World War II. Ethnic minorities were caught in the cross fire. The mix heritage my family came out of was not visible enough to provide political safety. Minorities throughout the nation had to change their family names to express national unity and loyalty to the new Republic. And with that, our cultural practices were driven under ground, and a whole generation grew up having no clear idea of who they were. My grandfather and his brothers were scattered throughout Java. Not having enough time to coordinate on what new family name to adopt, they managed to agree only on keeping the first letter of their ancient clan name, K. Each ended up adopting a different family name. So thus, families united by a name which went back thousands of years, were forever by name separated. More recent political climates have allowed for many to return to their ancestral names. But my family and I decided that in our name is our story. We almost lost our identity, we are not going to lose our story too. So we decided to keep ours. We emerged redefined through history. We will remain renewed through our names. My name here is a tribute to this. I am peranakan, of many lands and of many cultures. And I am proud of it. I am also the sole proprietress of Blue Ginger Vintage, a non-profit brand under which I seek to continue to contribute to the discourse on cultural heritage and identity. Blue Ginger does this through raising awareness and accumulation of information on cultural artifacts: vintage and antique objects of arts and crafts.

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