Cirebon is one of the unique cities in Indonesia. This city is located on the border of West Java and Central Java province. That makes this city has a unique combination between the culture in West Java and Central Java. This unique combination also affects their local products, especially the rattan furniture cirebon. This is also one of many reasons, why the rattan furniture from Cirebon has unique design and become one of the most popular Indonesian furniture products. But, that’s not all.
The Production Process
The rattan industry in Cirebon uses the traditional method to produce its product. This is one of many reasons for the quality product that this industry produces. The production process can be divided into five different steps. They are:
• Material Processing
The first step that the craftsman in cirebon uses to produce their rattan furniture is processing the material. Unlike the rattan manufacturer from other countries, the Cirebon rattan industry uses fresh material from local’s plantation. The area surrounding this city is perfect for rattan plantation. Therefore, the material used in their production is always in the best condition.
All processing method is done by the rattan manufacturer. They harvest the palm tree that becomes the base of the rattan material. Then, they separate the leaves and the excess fiber from the tree. They submerge the wood and the skin from the tree in special liquid to be easier to process later. Then, they take the skin and break it into thread-like shape. And, this is the rattan material that ready to use.
• Frame Preparation
The first step to produce the furniture is the making of the furniture frame. In Cirebon, they still use the traditional method to prepare the material for this part. They use the simple wooden tool to straighten up the rattan fiber. This process takes a lot of time. however, these days, many of rattan manufacturer in Cirebon start using the machine in their production process, including the frame preparation. However, it doesn’t devalue their product authenticity and art value.
With the machine, they can cut down the processing time. moreover, the size of the tree that they can process as well as the rattan fiber that they produce is also increasing. With the machine, they can easily make the rattan fiber with 12 mm – 45 mm diameter. It increases the option of the type and shape of the frame they can make.
• Frame Shaping and Production
Unlike the frame preparation, the entire frame shaping and production process are done using the traditional method. The local’s manufacturer uses the process which is called “nyetim”. This is one of the unique processes you can only find in Cirebon.
The first process in the “nyetim” production is “ngemal”. This process uses steam to shape the stiffed rattan fiber. By increasing the heat and temperature, the stiffed rattan can be easily bent and shaped like what they want. With this condition, the craftsman can apply for the design or order that the client wants.
That’s not all. When they follow the design or pattern to shape the rattan, they also use fire on the area they want to bend. This process uses a similar concept to “ngemal” which is increasing the heat to soften the rattan and make it easy to bend. For this process, they call it “ngeruji”.
Even though the rattan furniture craftsman in Cirebon has focused their market on the wider market, they still use this unique method to process their product. It doesn’t only give their rattan furniture more value. But, it also shows their concern on preserving the tradition from their ancestors. So, the rattan furniture industry in Cirebon isn’t only about the business. It’s more than that.
• Weaving and Painting
The next step is weaving. The rattan that has been shaped into a specific frame is used as the base for the weaving process. The frame has a bigger diameter than the rattan fiber that will be used for the weaving process. The weaving process is done manually. Many rattan factories employee locals, especially housewives that want to get extra income to do this. Therefore, their industry also helps the growth of locals’ economy and improves their condition.
After the weaving process, the next step is painting. They apply 2 layers of paint to create a beautiful appearance. After this process, the furniture is ready to sell. But, before it enters the market and display on the store, the furniture needs to go through one more stage, which is the quality control stage. Even though it’s all traditional industry, but they still use the modern production stage to ensure that their product can satisfy their customers, especially for the international market.
• Quality Control
Similar to the modern industry quality control stage, on this stage, there is a team that will check the quality of the product. They need to find the damage or any mistake on the product and use the standardization for this process. The good thing about rattan furniture is that they can repair the damage and make it like a new product. So, it also saves time and money to produce furniture.
Cirebon Rattan Industry Area
There are many areas in or around Cirebon where the rattan furniture factories operate. Many of them also become a popular vacation destination for tourists from Indonesia or other countries. However, the most popular place is Tegalwangi Village. This village is located 5 kilometers from Cirebon. Almost all residents in this village choose rattan furniture handicrafts as their profession. They also produce many kinds of products, from the cabinet, baby bed, and many more. moreover, they are available at affordable prices.
The production process used by many factories in Cirebon to produce good furniture from rattan show how they know this industry in and out. And, that’s not all. The product from that production process also can compete with other rattan furniture product that uses a more advanced and modern process. This is maybe the reason why rattan furniture from Cirebon is well-known for its quality.