Tinctori, Indigolandia

Recently I was invited by my friend Saiful Nurudin to visit his family’s indigo production in the small kampung of Jlamprng Wetan about 10 kilometers from Ambarawa. It was a fascinating and educational 4 days during which I observed each step of the process from harvest to finished product. Here are some photos to illustrate the process.

This is Saiful (“Iful”). He’s an affable fellow, very knowledgeable and generous in sharing it. Iful is seen here in one of his family’s indigo fields about to begin the harvesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Iful’s father started the business about 8 years ago and has since become one of the experts in the area. Iful helps out with the production but spends most of his time developing the other aspects of the family business: coloring by contract for other textile producers, and designing and producing his own line of indigo-dyed textiles. Some of you are probably familiar with the work Iful has produced for The Language of Cloth:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarf, batik tulis leaf pattern on cotton.

Scarf, detail, sekar jagad motif, batik tulis, indigo-dyed cotton.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe landscape is serenely verdant, and every square meter is used for growing something.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A day begins with a mandi in one of the constantly flowing springs that provide public bathing places throughout the landscape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The landscape is lush and green and quiet, except for the sounds of nature. It’s cool at night and moderate during the day. For me it was a great relief from the heat of Yogyakarta. There are coffee and rubber plantations up and down the mountainsides, and of course here and there you will see indigofera tinctoria.

Iful is studying marketing at a local college in Ambarawa and has his heart set on building up the business to the point where he can have a separate workshop for dyeing and textile production. Now his family shares their home with every aspect of production. He chose the word, “tinctori” as his brand name.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Iful cuts the strings tying the resist for the shibori on ulap doyo, a fiber grown and hand woven by the Dayak Benuaq tribe in Tanjung Isui, east Kalimantan. It is work commissioned by Rumah Rakuji http://www.rumahrakuji.com/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cloth will be immersed in hot water from a few minutes to release the wrinkle before drying and ironing. Later it will be sewn into pillows by Rumah Rakuji.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A batik artisan applies the wax for a scarf on kimono silk for The Language of Cloth.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The family living room makes a cramped space for every aspect of the business: drawing, waxing, tying, and cutting.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An order from a customer specializing in handwoven — from Kalimantan. Iful does the shibori and dyes the cloth in indigo and sends the prepared cloth to the designer for sewing into pillow covers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Iful’s brother in law, Nur Rohim specializes in dyeing a range of natural dye colors besides indigo.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bundles of indigo plants dug from the germinating field, to be transported to fields in the area where they will grow into mature plants for harvesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Indigo plants can be harvested up t0 4 times, each time cutting them about 12-16 inches from the ground.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hanging some itajime shibori samples to dry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are the woven—from Kalimantan after they were untied and boiled.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cutting begins.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the third time these plants have been harvested. They will sprout new growth from below the cut to be harvested one more time in a few months.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Iful’s family has enough planted in the area to be able to harvest 3-4 times each month.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The entire plant is used in the process, as the stems contain as much indicin, the active component that produces the blue color, as the leaves.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The harvest is carefully weighed, bundle by bundle, so that the correct ratio of water and lime can be calculated for processing.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The load of freshly cut indigo is tied down for the trip back home for processing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The process cannot wait. The indigo must be hurried along into the fermentation vats before they start to decompose in the sun.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Every member of the family participates in the process. Here Nur Asonah, Iful’s mother, carries a heavy load from the truck to the processing tanks at the side of the house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Iful’s father, Mohammad Muhdi supervises every step. He knows intuitively how much water is needed in each of three tanks, and how much indigo can be loaded into each.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Each of three tanks can hold 250 to 300 kg of indigo plants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Each tank is carefully packed by Pak Moahammad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When the right amount has been stacked in the tank, a grate of bamboo is put on top to hold it down under the water to be added.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blocks of wood are wedged between the bamboo grates and the secured bamboo poles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next the tanks are filled with water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The indigo will be left to soak in the water for 48 hours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Each of three tanks is carefully packed with indigo and secured with the bamboo grates, and filled with water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next morning after only about 12 hours, the water is bubbling with activity and has turned green.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The family can go about all the other aspects of the business in this down time of waiting for the indigo to do its magic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The water gradually becomes greener and more active in bubbling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the end of the second day bubbles are appearing blue and Pak Mohammad knows it is time to continue to the next step.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The grates are lifted out and the indigo rises to the top. He removes it from the water. By this time the smell indicates that there is definitely some fermentation happening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meanwhile Bur Nur Asonah prepares the lime by mixing it with water and straining the mixture. even though it rained that day, the indigo cannot be made to wait or it will be ruined.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The lime liquid is added to the tanks one by one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

almost immediately the water turns from yellow green to blue as the lime is added.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The water is then oxygenated for about 20 minutes until it is frothing with beautiful blue bubbles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is now the indigo liquid. The solid indigo will settle to the bottom overnight, leaving a clear brownish liquid to be drained off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Notice that there are two spouts exiting the tanks, one about 10 centimeters higher than the other. The upper one is to drain the waste water off. The bottom one will be used to drain off the indigo liquid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the water has been drained there is a thick liquid indigo material at the bottom. Each 100 Kilograms of indigo plant yields approximately 5 Kilograms of indigo paste.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The blue of fresh indigo is intensely vibrant. There is no other blue in the world like it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pak Mohammad drains two of the three tanks into the third, from which the indigo liquid will be drained.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The thick indigo liquid is drained from the lower holes and strained.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is then poured into a tank with a sand bottom covered with filtering cloth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Water slowly seeps out of the thick liquid leaving the finished product, a thick indigo paste.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here Iful is preparing a vat with handfuls of indigo paste “pasta indigo” as it is called here in Java.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tintori is one of several growers and suppliers in the Ambarawa area. Tinctori indigo is very much in demand, especially now with so much interest in natural dyes throughout Indonesia.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seeds drying for the next generation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pak Mohammad Muhdi and Ibu Nur Asonah welcomed me into their home very graciously, accepting me as family and sharing their hospitality and knowledge generously. I am grateful for their kindness.

Tinctori can be reached at

instagram@tinctori

Facebook: Saiful Nurrudin

Whatsapp: 081327138835

This is one of Iful’s recent  scarf designs combining batik with shibori.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batik Bima Sakti:Laba-laba motif

Recently I visited Bu Hartinah of the batik -making collective in Giriloyo, Jogjakarta. My friend, batik artist Brigitte Wallach introduced me to their work through an exhibition she had of her collection of Bima Sakti batiks at the Museum Tekstil in Jakarta in August of 2015. I was particularly taken by a batik with a spider web motif in that exhibition and decided to go to Giriloyo to see if I could find another one like it.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are a number of batik-maker groups in this area, most of which got started after the devastating earthquake of 2004 leveled the area and killed many people. At that time there was much relief aid made available to the area and efforts by various NGO’s toward economic development led to cultivating batik as a source of income. Bu Hartinah’s group however had already been established since 1988.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is Bu Hartinah’s home and it serves as the showroom for Bima Sakti’s batik. There is very little stock of finished batik however, and most of it is made to order.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are some pieces that Bu Hartinah brought out to show us that day. 

The batik on the left is tambal motif, made up of triangles, each with a different pattern.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This black and white batik is unfinished, showing the first step in the process. Later some areas that will remain white will be covered with wax and the sogan brown will be added to the rest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The tiny dots called cecek are applied one by one with the canting having the smallest opening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bu Hartiniah holding the book by Brigitte Wallach illustrating many of the batik in the Museum Tekstil Exhibition, along with the history of the group. The batik I am holding is an iket, or head cloth, always square and with a lozenge in the center. It is folded and tied into a turban worn by the members of the sultan’s court.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bu Hartiniah and the members of the group take great pride in their work and each piece is signed and titled.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the batik that I ordered last September. It took about two months to complete. Laba-laba means spider, and this motif dates back over 100 years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The format is a kain panjang which is used as a hip wrapper. It’s around 2 and 1/2 yards long and about 42 inches wide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bu Hartinah is very hospitable and welcomes visitors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Pop-up Shop Opens Nov. 14

Every year for the past 13 years I’ve transformed my garage into a temporary marketplace for handmade textiles. In the early years I called it a glorified garage sale, but gradually it became bigger and more like a real store. Now there is a term for “stores” like mine, pop-up shops. I like to showcase new artisans, and also the work of those that I have supported from the beginning. I’ve had textiles from Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, India, and my adopted home country, Indonesia. Over the years the batik of Java has become my passion, and I maintain a small workshop to create my own batik textiles in the back of my home in Yogyakarta. I love telling people how batik is made, and offer batik workshops from time to time. I try to have a wide range of prices and a selection from simple prints to elaborate, incredibly detailed designs. There are batik scarves from $10 to $350, and work hard to give the artisans who make the textiles a fair price, one that encourages them to continue their craft. I also have a zero waste practice, using every piece of scrap left to make new products. These patchwork scarves are an example:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Patchwork scarves made from scraps of old batik, hand-woven lurik cloth from Yogyakarta, and Japanese shibori.

The shop is located in the San Francisco Mission district, just up the street from Tartine bakery and cafe.

The Language of Cloth Pop-up Shop

650-A Guerrero St. (between 18th and 19th)

Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays

November 14 to December 24

Come on in  and have a look

Come on in and have a look:

The shop is stocked floor to ceiling with all kinds pf scarves and home textiles

The shop is stocked floor to ceiling with all kinds pf scarves and home textiles

Batik scarves using natural dyes

Batik scarves using natural dyes

 

Batik tulis, hand drawn wax resist long cotton cloths,

Batik tulis, hand drawn wax resist long cotton cloths

Shibori on silk

Shibori on silk

One of a kind hand painted scarves

One of a kind hand painted scarves

Ainu designs on raw silk scarves

Ainu designs on raw silk scarves

Itajime "clamped" shibori on kimono silk

Itajime “clamped” shibori on kimono silk

Batik on hand woven cotton (gedog) from Tuban, East Java

Batik on hand woven cotton (gedog) from Tuban, East Java

Bags, pieced vintage  batik

Bags, pieced vintage batik

Fendi is at your service

Fendi is at your service

A wide selection in a narrow space

A wide selection in a narrow space

More is more

More is more

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beads from recycled glass, from East Java

Beads from recycled glass, from East Java

Beads from recycled glass, from East Java

Beads from recycled glass, from East Java

Ethnic bags made from Hmong embroidery

Ethnic bags made from Hmong embroidery

 

 

 

Batik Uniting the Nations: Gelar Batik Nusantara, Jakarta 2015

Welcome to my world of batik.

Welcome to my world of batik.

This is one of the many exhibitors’ booths in the bi-annual Gelar Batik Nusantara, the biggest and most comprehensive exhibition of batik in Indonesia. It’s primary purpose is to promote batik in its many forms from every part of Indonesia, from contemporary designers, collectors of antique batik, writers, and historians. In the photo above are very fine examples of antique pesisir batik from the northern coast of Java, many rare, signed batik from the collection of Erie Prakoso, Enchanted Batik http://www.enchantedbatik.com/Batik, Uniting Nations

Batik, Uniting Nations

The exhibition was held from June 24-28, 2015 at the Jakarta gelarbatiknusantara

It was my first time to experience this extraordinary exhibition and I would like to introduce you to just a few of the highlights with these photographs.

Museum Tekstil was represented by a sampling of the exquisite batik from their permanent collection.

Museum Tekstil was represented by a sampling of the exquisite batik from their permanent collection.

Museum Tekstil in Jakarta offered a number of demonstrations and programs during the exhibition along with a beautiful presentation of the finest historical batik representing the many traditional motifs. The museum has been very important in promoting and educating Indonesians about their batik heritage. museumtekstiljakarta

Puro Pakualaman, batik from the tradition of the keraton.

Puro Pakualaman, batik from the tradition of the keraton.

Many new batik designs based on motifs inspired by the sacred writings from the Pakualaman were shown for the first time in this exhibition. puropakualaman

An amazing exhibit of extraordinary batik based on the traditions of the Keraton of Cirebon

An amazing exhibit of extraordinary batik based on the traditions of the Keraton of Cirebon

Detail of kain panjang motif, Taman Arum, Cirebon

Detail of kain panjang motif, Taman Arum, Cirebon

This exhibition of Cirebonese batik within the context of the larger exhibition GBN was produced and presented by Komarudin Kudiya who has been a pioneering figure in the world of batik for many years. batik-komar

We LOVE Batik (in the booth of Enchanted Batik

We LOVE Batik (in the booth of Enchanted Batik

Batik artist, Dudung of Pekalongan, with a special exhibit of his new work

Batik artist, Dudung of Pekalongan, with a special exhibit of his new work

How much is it?

How much is it?

A feast for the eyes.

A feast for the eyes.

I love laba-laba motif

I love laba-laba motif

Endless creativity

Endless creativity

A special exhibit from the collection of Hartono Sumarsono

A special exhibit from the collection of Hartono Sumarsono

GBN featured a magnificent presentation of antique batik from the collection of Hartono Sumarsono.

Arabic motifs from Mr. Sumarsono's collection

Arabic motifs from Mr. Sumarsono’s collection

Mr. Sumarsono's exhibit was of museum quality.

Mr. Sumarsono’s exhibit was of museum quality.

Indian and Chinese influence from Mr. Sumarsono's collection

Indian and Chinese influence from Mr. Sumarsono’s collection

A collector from London inspects a songkhet

A collector from London inspects a songkhet

While the exhibition is primarily focused on batik, it would be impossible to exclude other textile traditions from the mix.

Seribu Burung motif (one thousand birds). I regret not buying it.

Seribu Burung motif (one thousand birds).
I regret not buying it.

Batik is big business in Indonesia and people come to this exhibition from all over the world to look for look for the perfect piece to buy.

Bu Ani  Yudhoyono, wife of former president Susulo Bambang Yudhoyono, spotted among the shoppers.

Bu Ani Yudhoyono, wife of former president Susulo Bambang Yudhoyono, spotted among the shoppers.

Author Brigitte Willach signing copies of her new book, Bimasakti

Author Brigitte Willach signing copies of her new book, Bimasakti

Brigitte Willach has been collecting batik from a remarkable group of women batik artisans known as Bimasakti from Giriloyo, Bantul for over 30 years. A selection of her extraordinary collection was recently featured at the Tekstil Museum in Jakarta. She is an accomplished batik artist as well.

Brigitte Willach showing one of her batik paintings

Brigitte Willach showing one of her batik paintings

Rudolf Smend signing one of his books about batik

Rudolf Smend signing one of his books about batik

Often batik is first discovered through books, and Rudolf Smend has made great contributions in this field with several books on batik and a new one soon to be published by Periplus periplus

The best eyes in the world for batik

The best eyes in the world for batik

Don Harper evaluating someone’s collection of batik. He is also a co-contributor to many books on textiles and The expert all collectors want to meet. He has an online museum of his collection here: eastindiesmuseum

how to wear a kain panjang without cutting or sewing.

how to wear a kain panjang without cutting or sewing.

Thank-you for loving batik as much as I do.

Thank-you for loving batik as much as I do.

Rudolf Smend and Birigitte Willach Batik Collections at Museum Tekstil, Jakarta, Indonesia

Rudolf Smend at Museum Tekstil, Jakarta

Rudolf Smend at Museum Tekstil, Jakarta

The Museum Tekstil in Jakarta recently honored two Germans who have contributed greatly to the promotion and appreciation of Javanese batik internationally. Brigitte Willach of Hanover has been supporting the kelompok Bimasakti, in Giriloyo, Bantul, south of Yogyakarta, a batik collective of women dedicated to creating batik in the tradition of the keraton, since 1985. One half of the museum  focused on  a selection from her collection of over 140 of the finest pieces they have produced during her 30 year relationship with them. A selection of Rudolf Smend’s collection of antique pesisir batik was displayed in the other half of the museum. He is the author of several books about batik, Batik, 75 Masterpieces

  http://www.amazon.com/Batik-Selected-Masterpieces-Rudolf-Collection/dp/080483895X

Batik from the Courts of Java and Sumatera

http://www.amazon.com/Batik-From-Courts-Java-Sumatra/dp/0794602711/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=10RKGB57WFPGPV814WVF

Rudolf and Brigitte led into the Museum Tekstil for the opening of the show

Rudolf and Brigitte led into the Museum Tekstil for the opening of the show by Ibu Maya the director.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brigitte Willach with her friend of many years, Carmanita, a well known Indonesian fashion designer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Keong Tritik motif, with sogan coloring, from Bimasakti group.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

http://www.amazon.com/Batik-From-Courts-Java-Sumatra/dp/0794602711/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=10RKGB57WFPGPV814WVFhttp://www.amazon.com/Batik-From-Courts-Java-Sumatra/dp/0794602711/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=10RKGB57WFPGPV814WVFhttp://www.amazon.com/Batik-From-Courts-Java-Sumatra/dp/0794602711/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=10RKGB57WFPGPV814WVFhttp://www.amazon.com/Batik-From-Courts-Java-Sumatra/dp/0794602711/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=10RKGB57WFPGPV814WVFhttp://www.amazon.com/Batik-From-Courts-Java-Sumatra/dp/0794602711/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=10RKGB57WFPGPV814WVFhttp://www.amazon.com/Batik-From-Courts-Java-Sumatra/dp/0794602711/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=10RKGB57WFPGPV814WVF

Everyone wore their best batik for the opening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Batik sarung worn by visitor, Seribu Biru motif (1,000 birds)

 

Spider web motif, Bimasakti Group, Giriloyo

Daniel Gundlach with Ibu

Contemporary Batik in the Pesisir Tradition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a batik from the workshop of Sutoyo Slamet from Wiradesa, Pekalongan, also mentioned in my previous post on Pesisir batik. What stands out immediately for me in his work, is the delicate artistry and precision of the waxing. The canting his pembatik use has an opening so small, it can barely be seen with the naked eye.

Sutoyo’s pembatik (the person applying the wax)  range in age from 25 to 65 and they all started as beginners, or just average batik makers ten years ago when Sutoyo decided to try to produce batik halus, the finest quality. With training and persistent patience, they have gained the skill necessary to become the foundation for Sutoyo’s batik production. They each have a repertoire of hundreds of patterns (issen-issen) and when to use them. Note details of the batik above and below, how each leaf, each blade of grass, each petal, each feather has an internal life of its own, enhanced by the delicate lines, dots,  and flourishes created by the pembatik. This more than any other aspect identifies the batik as being in the Pesisir tradition.

In earlier times men also applied the wax with the canting, but now there are very few men who have the required skill. The designer is not unlike the director of a play. But in drawing the design on paper and conceiving and supervising the plan for the production from start to finish, he also writes the script.

There are many aspects involved in this process starting from the graphic design, always a linear drawing, to transferring the design to the cloth, the application of wax with the canting, to the the coloring, immersion in a dye bath or painting on the dye with a brush, and finally the removal of the wax to reveal the finished results. Usually the designer makes the drawing and directs the entire process, employing others who are expert in the various skills needed. Rarely can the designer master all of the skills required for each step. 

11179889_679923175469970_2086992313_o

 I had the pleasure of meeting Sutoyo Slamet on a recent trip to Pekalongan, the rare batik designer who has mastered each step, and who can  easily sit down with the women around the pot of wax, joining them in applying the delicate lines on the cloth. He colors all of the batik himself as well and is an excellent draftsman of beautiful balanced compositions.  

I was impressed not only with his work, but also the way in which he works. His workshop is like his batik, clean and bright. It was clear that his staff is devoted to him and to their work, and they take great pride in their skill and the quality of the batik they produce.

Here are some examples of their incredible skill in applying the wax to the drawing on the cloth.

Batik Pesisir, Yesterday and Today

Batik Pesisir was produced in coastal areas of northern Java and Madura that were exposed to sea trading and  consequently  was influenced by cultures from other parts of the world. It was distinguished from the batik that came from the rest of Java which emanated originally from the keraton, or royal courts, and was fundamentally free from foreign influences.  Pesisir batik was generally more colorful, and used floral motifs, Chinese and Arabic motifs, birds, animals, sea creatures, and motifs from nature.

This is a sarung  signed  The Tie Siet, Pekalongan and reflects the trend during the 1920’s for Chinese batik makers to imitate the success of the Indo European batik makers of the previous generation in supplying “buketan” motif batik for European tastes.

From the collection of Rudolf Smend, Cologne, Germany http://www.athm.org/museum_exhibition/batik-from-courts-and-palaces-the-rudolf-smend-collection-batik-fashionamerican-style/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Chinese taste at the time favored a softer, pastel color pallette.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This batik from Lassem circa 1920 has exotic animals such as lions, elephants, and camels.  Also from the collection of Rudolf Smend.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a detail from a contemporary batik from Wiradesa, Pekalongan, a batik producing center on the northern coast of Java by Sutoyo Slamet. https://web.facebook.com/sutoyo.slamet?fref=ts      It can be considered pesisir both geographically and stylistically.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In contrast to the coastal or pesisir batik, that which came from the keraton in Central Java was of a much more limited color palette, using shades of sogan brown and indigo blue depending on which court it came from. The motifs were highly symbolic with specific cultural significance, some even reserved solely for the use by members of the royal court.

This is a batik from Surakarta (Solo) circa 1970 from the collection of Daniel Gundlach, San FranciscoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA CJBTK50, Kain panjang, cotton Solo 450.

This batik is by Nyonya (Mrs.) Lie Boen from Kudus in the 1930’s.  Considered pesisir, it is characteristic of batik from the few makers in that area near the northern coast of Java, by it’s detailed background using traditional keraton (court) motifs from Central Java, such as this parang motif in the traditional sogan color, with the buketan popular at the time in coastal batik.  Already at this time styles were being mixed up and composed into unique combinations. From the collection of Rudolf Smend, Cologne, Germany.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a detail from a contemporary work from Batik Setyowijaya https://web.facebook.com/raji.setyowijaya?fref=ts of Yogyakarta in Central Java, composed of  traditional nitik patterns in sogan color from Yogyakarta.  It is a unique and intricate composition of traditional motifs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Much has changed in the the production of batik in Java in this last century. Styles have been mixed and there is no longer exclusivity of use. The traditional parang and kawung patterns originally reserved for members of the court are now worn everyday by anyone and are often combined into one composition with bouquets and butterflies originally seen only on pasisir batik. It would be very difficult to determine the origin of a contemporary batik today.

This is a contemporary batik by Solikhin Ahmad of Artho Moro Batik https://web.facebook.com/solikhin.ahmad.3?fref=ts from Wiradesa, Pekalongan that combines parang rusak, a traditional pattern from the royal courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, with typical floral motifs of coastal, Pesisir batik, in natural dye colors. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the past, there were distinguishing characteristics that identified the origin of a batik, for example the batik from the court of Yogyakarta were predominantly shades of blue and cream, and those from the court of Surakarta (Solo) were sogan brown, with black.

Lassem batik was distinguished for its rich red coloring. This is a  pesisir batik sarung from Lassem  made in the 1930’s. The rich red coloring was only possible in Lassem or possibly Semarang. The peacocks in the composition suggest that it was for a European customer. From the collection of Rudolf Smend, Cologne, Germany.  http://www.smend.de/OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Besides color, certain patterns can help identify batik from certain areas as well. But not always.  For example the mega mending pattern (clouds) is considered unique to Cirebon. The delicate shading is achieved by successive lines of wax and immersions in the same dye bath color, in this example, blue. This is a contemporary piece commissioned by The Language of Cloth made by Bu Bun of Cirebon. Detail Bu Bun

IMG_3370

Undoubtedly the most skillful examples of this motif are made in Cirebon. This one has seven gradations! But here are some other examples of mega mendung made in other areas of Java.

This one is a political statement about the environment created by the artisans of The Language of Cloth in Kliwonan, Sragen, Central Java.IMG_0384 Pabrik Blk and wht

In this batik the artist Hanafi of Pekalongan uses the gradation technique to outline ginko leaves instead of clouds, giving the batik a glowing quality. The color is natural indigo. https://web.facebook.com/naturaldyer?fref=ts

IMG_4204 - Version 2

IMG_4206

Itajime, clamp resist shibori

The resist in these scarves was achieved by clamping some wood scraps together on folded raw silk from Phnom Srouk Province in Cambodia and dipping them into an indigo vat. When the clamps and wood blocks are removed the pattern is revealed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

BATIK to raise environmental consciousness

I love batik that tells a story. By this I do not mean the European-influenced fairytale batik of the last century produced in Java during the Dutch colonial occupation in Indonesia, that depict snow white or little red riding hood. I mean batik that tells us something about real life. I have always loved the mega mendung motif batiks of Cirebon, East Java, and have in the past used the cloud symbol to tell the story of carbon pollution from the exhaust of modern transportation. Recently I have had the opportunity to work with a very skilled husband and wife team from Cirebon who specialize in producing magnificent mega mendung batik. The mega mendung motif is characterized by a series of gradations of color forming stylized cloud-like patterns. Bu Bun and her husband, Pak Uripah have produced the only 9 gradation mega mendung batik I have ever seen. They agreed to produce this latest story batik design, using the cloud again as a symbol of the carbon pollution from coal-burning electricity generating plants.

The format is the tradition kain panjang, 2.5 meters by 105cm, on primissima cotton, using chemical dyes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It took approximately 7 months to complete. There are seven gradations of grey to black. Each gradation is a separate application of color followed by a submerging of the entire cloth in the dye bath. The background is covered with wax to protect it from the grey dye bath until the last gradation. Then all of the wax is removed, the gradations and other details are covered with wax, so that the background can be dyed red. Then all of the wax is removed and the cloth is finished.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The skill of Bu Bun is evident in the clean  even lines of the gradations. This requires infinite skill with the canting. The even gradation of color demonstrates the great skill of Pak Uripah in mixing the dyes to achieve just the right variation of each gradation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I want to also give credit to Mbak Atie who is my expert agent and coordinator for the batik of Cirebon. She personally supervised and assisted Bu Bun and Pak Uripah in planning each stage of the production. Her knowledge of the process was invaluable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Attention textileans!

The Language of Cloth AD 2014 07

Home Archive for category "Uncategorized"