Yogyakarta has always been one of my favorite cities in Indonesia. Every trip to Indonesia I’ve made over the past 20 years it seems a must do city. It’s a cultural center, educational center, and one of Indonesia’s culinary capitals. Besides all of these features it’s a wonderful place to live, full of youthful energy, and the creative input of many artists. It’s proximity to Borobudur, Prambanan, and many other ancient temples makes it an ideal place for tourists and cultural research.
I recently decided to make it my base for the continued research of Javanese culture, especially with regard to Indonesia’s cultural treasure, batik. Yogyakarta has an active keraton (sultan’s palace) and batik-making continues to be a major point of interest here.
My life is much different here from what I am used to in San Francisco. Each day is a new experience and often a new challenge in acknowledging and accepting cultural differences. My attitude has become one of openness as a result. I learn everyday that I have so much more to learn. Here are a few photos from my neighborhood.
Issan has long been acclaimed for its textile weaving traditions. Recently I had the opportunity to visit a weaving village, Ban Ton, on the edge of the town of Ban Khwaow in northeastern Thailand, know as Issan. I met Ms. Nujuang who kindly shared a wealth of information translated by my friend and guide, Mr. Ping. She shows some of her work in this photo, a typical silk matmee for local use as a skirt, wrapped much like a sarong, for important village functions.
Click on the photo to see more.
Indigo is making a resurgence in contemporary batik. It had been the primary source of blue color in batik for many years up until the introduction of chemical dyes at the turn of the century.There are a number of contemporary batik-makers who are discovering the beauty of indigo blue. Some are even growing there own indigo plants and producing the dye themselves. Here are some photos from two recent excursions into the world of indigo batik. Meet Hanafi, Iful, and Solikhin who are making great strides in re-introducing indigo to the world of batik again.
Then you should visit Vietnam where countless numbers of young artists, painters, copiers, entrepreneurs, students, whatever, produce paintings sold by the size. You can find copies of fine art, copies of photographs, original paintings, paintings in the style of other artists, whatever. Studio/galleries line the streets of the back-packer ghettos and paintings can be had for a back-packer’s budget.
Click on this photo to go to a gallery of photos from my recent trip to Vietnam to see more.
A recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City, surprisingly referred to as Saigon by most locals, especially younger ones, stimulated every sense to maximum levels. The visual of course is probably the most immediate sense to be stimulated. Here are a few photos yet to be labeled to show you what I mean by stimulating. Click on any photo to enlarge.