May 13, 2020

Indonesian Cookbook 'Bijbel van de Indonesische keuken'

The Indonesian cookbook 'Bijbel van de Indonesische keuken' by Maureen Tan next to pink klepon made by me

End of last year Maureen Tan contacted me if I was able to help her with an idea for her upcoming, and now published, Indonesian Cookbook. The cookbook 'Bijbel van de Indonesische keuken' is part of a series by Carrera Culinair and although the format is similar for every book each author makes the book trully their own. Maureen Tan explained she was making the book with recipes written down by her mother and complimented with recipes by others. Her wish was to include Batiks in the book.
When I heard it was a book on almost all Indonesian islands, I thought it would be nice if it would not be just Batiks featured in the book as decoration, but that the textiles used for the book would actually match with the location of the recipes.
With an list of possible places of recipes that would make the book, I started looking for the best matches. Because I do not own textiles of all Indonesian islands, I asked my dear friends Rachma Sri Mulyani Saloh and Ine WawoRuntu if they had textiles I could borrow.
Ibu Rachma is very active as a dancer in the dancegroup Wahana Budaya Nusantara, gives wonderful workshops to mostly Indonesian students in both dance and cooking. She is from Kalimantan and lives already many years in the Netherlands. Her knowlegde on places in Indonesia and their traditional wear is really remarkable. She had so many nice pieces and a small selection made it into the book. For example a beautiful silk sarong from Kalimantan is used for that chapter on page 132. On page 80 you find a great bright red woven piece with tiny beads from North Sumatra from her collection.
Ibu Ine is very active in promoting Indonesian culture in the Netherlands and does great work with her Stichting Hibiscus in Indonesia. I know her for many years and we try to help eachother when possible. I was so happy she could lend me some textiles, I or Ibu Rachma did not have. For example the small, but so lovely ikat from Lombok used on page 387 for the Chapter 'Kleine Soenda-eilanden'.

Selecting Indonesian textiles for the book at Ibu Rachma.
Although I have many textiles, my collection is mostly Batik.
So for the cookbook I was very lucky I could borrow textiles from my dear friends!

Book open on page 80 - 83, Chapter 'Sumatra'.
Showing a woven fabric with white beads woven into the textile on page 80.
On page 82 an orange woven fabric with red, green and blue accents and goldcoloured thread.
This fabric was one of the fabrics I could borrow from Ine WawoRuntu.
It matched perfectly with the sambal!
The book is photographed on the same fabric.
Terima kasih banyak, dear Ine for lending out your Indonesian textiles for this book!

All gathered Indonesian textiles.
With the help of Iby Ine and Ibu Rachma I was able to collect Indonesian textiles
to represent all regions featured in the book.
For every region, we had multiple options,
so that on the shooting day the best matches could be made

 
Book open om page 169, Chapter 'Sulawesi'.
For this chapter a yellow sarong with purple stripes
that is apart of the traditional wear Baju Bodo from Makassar, South Sulawesi.
It is photographed on a similar sarong with an orange base

In January I headed to Amsterdam with a trolley filled with Indonesian textiles. Maureen Tan was making in a few weeks all dishes in her home, every day about 15 recipes were made, styled and photographed. On the day I came, all covers for the chapters, most sambals and a couple of basic recipes were documented for the book. I was trying to get big folds out of the fabrics, but we luckily all agree that it would be nicest if you could clearly see that it were actual textiles. So kept the ironing to a minimum, and also becauce most woven textiles can not be ironed at all. In the afternoon we shared a lunch of all the things that were made that day and Maureen even made some extra for the vegetarians (me) at the table.

Photographer Sven Benjamins checking the photos he took.
The endresult is shown in the next photo, page 207 in the book

Book open on page 207, Chapter 'West-Java',
showing a peanut sambal on a Batik Tulis by batikworkshop Luminutu in Lasem.
The unfinished Batik had only its first colourbath, blue.
The mainmotif in de 'kepala' are two peacocks representing fidelity.
The book is photographed on top of the same Batik Tulis
 
 
Busy in the kitchen, from right to left: Chef and author Maureen Tan,
food-stylist Caroline van Beek and cookbook-kitchen-helper Rick Veenboer

Book open on page 202, Chapter West-Java, showing a Batik Tulis from Cirebon
which I could borrow from Rachma Sri Mulyani Saloh.
She also gave me the beautiful natural dye on which I photographed the book, also from Cirebon.
Dear Rachma many thanks for lending us your Indonesian textiles for the book!

Food-stylist Caronline van Beek is placing a sambal on a Batik.
The final photo you find in Chapter 'Oost-Java en Madura' on page 297.
The Batik Cap with motifs of bikes and coffeleaves is made by Batik Rolla in Jember, East-Java.
It was inspired by the designers background, her Dutch grandfather and coffeegrowing father

The book was published on 24 April, of course not with any big launch event and that is such a pity. But you can enjoy almost daily post by Maureen Tan on her Instagram and Facebook in which she shares recipes from her book with cooking instructions.
I also tried for the very first time to make 'klepon'. A favorite when I am on Java and on any Indonesian event in the Netherlands. This sticky riceflower balls with sweet palmsugar inside covered in cocos are not only jummy, but very pretty. I wanted to me the orginal green ones, but at the local toko it was all sold out {Me and Maureen both wonder how many people are trying out her recipes, please comment below if you have the book and made something from it}. So I bought the next in line 'Coco Pandan', which turned out to be the bright pink one. I also bought palmsugar from the toko without realizing I normally avoid any palmproducts. On Facebook I got this great tip for next time, palmsugar by Red Ape, which actually protects orangutans in the process {:(|)
Me and Koen spend last Sunday making the 'klepon'. I added first too much to the mix, then way to much cocoswater. I created a bowl full of what looked like very sticky bumble gum. Koen coached me through it, haha, and in the end we manage to make a huge amount of 'klepon'. Our neighbors and Koen's colleagues already enjoyed a batch and the rest I froze in to share on a later date with my family.

Thank you Maureen for including me in your wonderful project :)))
It was also a great learning experience exploring different textiles from all over Indonesia.
You can now buy 'Bijbel van de Indonesische keuken' by Maureen Tan, check out your local bookstore on or offline.

 
Book open on page 349 - 351, Chapter 'Bali',
showing a Batik Tulis with the Goddess of Water and a Karbouw,
made by an artist on Bali in the 70's,
on top of a Batik by the same artist with Dewi Sri, the Goddes of Rice.
Both Batiks were gifted to me by a lady who lived on Bali and wore these to the beach

 Recipe to make 'Klepon'
Chapter 'Oost-Java en Madura'  page 340 
Book surrounded by the ingredients

My 'Klepon' result! First try making this,
made many mistakes, like not follow the quantities to well,
and ended up with pink ones, but still very jummie!



April 20, 2020

11 tahun perjalanan ke Batik

= 11 years the journey to Batik



A month ago, just when the Netherlands started with their 'intelligent lockdown', I published a new blogpost. I wished people who had the opportunity and privilege to stay at home with free time, would use this time to read, learn and explore. My blog has never been visited as much as this last month! Old blogposts have been viewed and I feel very glad my 11 years of blogging is providing much to explore now! So thank you for following & re-reading my journey to Batik!
If you are a new reader, welcome, and if you are returning, thank you!
Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts, ideas and questions on this post or my blog in general.

I planned to do more blogging, but I spend my time mostly making other online content and written articles for other platforms. However it seems online is the new world, so I will definitely make new posts for here.
Although we live now in a world that is changing and seems scary at times, I think sticking with tradition and keeping, or re-inventing habits, will help getting through this time. So also now I want to celebrate my blog's birthday. Can you believe I am blogging for 11 years!
Last year I was so lucky I got to celebrate my 10th year of The journey to Batik so big! I made exhibitions, events, gave lectures, workshops...I shared Batik in 2019 in the Netherlands, on Java and online the whole year through. I had many plans for this year, but I was also thinking on the online presence of Batik and how to share my journey and current research in a accessible way. This is not so much a matter of making time, but also of having budget. Of course budget will not be easy in this time, but luckily I already have multiple other online platforms which allow me to share & connect. My blog, Social Media, YouTube and online platforms like Modemuze are and already were my ways of sharing my thoughts, stories, new discoveries and questions. So I will explore this further for the time being.

For this post, I will be sticking with tradition. "To have connection, you have to do things for a long time", freely quoted after what professor Marli Huijer said in the TV programme ''Floortje Blijft Hier'. Normally Floortje Dessing makes travel-programs, visiting people living on the edges of the world taking planes, trains, busses, cars, camels, you name it, to get there. "You don't need to travel the world to share stories, you can share stories here, now". I really connect with what was Marli Huijer said. Slowly moving forward, that is the feeling I often have. At times it is frustrating and I have so many failures along the way, but looking back I can really enjoy all the steps I was able to make and can see how far I have come. The last 5 years I have been posting new posts around 21 April to celebrate my blog's birthday. These posts usually included a Batik Statement and big news or new plans.

To see them, click the links below:
in 2019 'Busy with Batik'
in 2018 'Pattern Edition Batik Statement: Pagi-Sore'
in 2017 'Behind the scenes'
in 2016 'The journey to Batik'
in 2015 'Hari Kartini'

Now no big new news, but I will be looking back at a Batik Statement series I created for last Cultuurnacht, Culture Night, in Breda.
I started making Batik Statement already 8 years ago. The first one I made was a Batik-fashion-tribute-to-fashion-bloggers in 2012. Being a blogger, but not at all a fashion blogger, I thought it would be fun to explore this world of pretending-to-be-fashion-while-being-at-home and create looks with Batik. I got a great response to it and kept making and sharing Batik Statements. I also got Batik Statements from others and even did four Batik Statement events. However I never really used it in an Art-type of way.
When Pieter Vastbinder asked me and Koen de Wit for his yearly Spiegelhol event at the BelcrumWatertoren during the Cultuurnacht, I had the idea of exploring the 'colonial mirror', or better my view in that mirror.
Looking for ways of addressing colonial history and how we reflect on this past, I got inspired by 'Bigi Spikri' and the selfie-culture of Indonesia. 'Bigi Spikri' is a Surinamese word which translates into 'Big mirror'. During big festive parades dressed up people would walk the streets of Paramaribo seeing themselves reflected in the shopwindow. These shopwindows functioned as big mirrors to admire yourself in. The 'Bigi Spikri' parade is closely related to 'Keti Koti'. 'Keti Koti' celebrated on 1 of July that marks the date when slavery was abolished in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles in 1863. The parade is a returning part of this remembrance and it is not only a way of admire beauty in diversity, but also to invite others to reflect on this past.
In the BelcrumWatertoren I created a shopwindow in which I displayed books, objects and textiles that I use to learn from and reflect on our colonial past.
Next to that I showed a slide-show of photos I made in the Netherlands and Indonesia showing how we deal with this past. During my last visit to Indonesia in October, I was much more focussed on our shared history and visited more old sites. The cellphone-culture which I already encountered from 2009, is now transformed into a full on selfie-culture. Next to being asked a lot to pose for photos, people pose everywhere. Places for me filled with heavy feelings are now popular for the youth as pretty backdrops for their Insta-shots. Old Dutch places even got fixed up, and re-used. Before these colonial memories were literally falling apart. So an interesting development which allows us to reflect better on this past even if it is through a filter with someone making a peace sign.

To bring this inspiration together and make my 'colonial mirror' even more visible, I made a Batik Statement series. With the great help of Koen de Wit, we made analog dia-slides on 30 December 2019. It was very cold, but with a beautiful blue sky and we found a great spot with water in the background.
I made 5 different looks using clothing and textiles from my own collection. I am especially proud of the iPhone-headpiece we created based on the ear-irons worn in Dutch Traditional wear. It was good for many laughs and the result works so well.
Also very happy with how my koto-skirt turned out using a Vlisco Java Print and a lot of pins. The Java Print has a motif of a big standing mirror. It was designed in 2016 for the Vlisco 'Woven Wisdom' collection. For me immediately it was linked with the reflection we should make with our past, and I sheepishly thought Vlisco refer to that with this collection...However I instantly thought of this fabric for this photoshoot and was happy it was still available.
Without going in much further detail, I just want to share the series here with you. During the Cultuurnacht it was projected in a loop. These are digital scans of the dia-slides. We had multiple of each look and I picked my favourites to share here with you, enjoy!







*All photos made in collaboration with Koen de Wit 



March 18, 2020

A Royal encounter with Batik

During these troubled times with fighting an invisible enemy, the Coronavirus, we don't really get the opportunity to talk about other matters and thats very logical. Be safe first, keep your distance, but also reach out to your family, friends and neighbors and see how you can help. This time can be used well for those who are not sick, or have work we can't do without right now, or don't have their kids at home. For these people use this time to learn and reflect.
I hope my blog can be one of these places to read, enjoy and study. Since I am stuck at home, my research can continue from here, but I can't access any actual archives. Probably most other work, like public talks will be cancelled also, so luckily I have my own online Batik world.

Before Covid-19 was all the news, we in the Netherlands were very focussed on our Royal couple and their upcoming, and just ended, state visit. There was commotion on the timing (they went in March, while Indonesia will be 75 years independent in August), questions on if there would be finally an apology and when it came it was about if the apology should have come from our King. And lastly on the return of a Keris that would, or could have been from Prins Diponegoro (1785 – 1855), but should have been found earlier, returned sooner and not used as a political tool.
I follow this news closely, from both and other sides. I found it important to know current political developments regarding our colonial history, and yes, a visit to a former colony will always be connected to that history. I don't really share about it, since I don't want to get in online fights...however you will find from the links above what my thoughts are.
With all this going on it didn't caught my attention until Danar Hadi posted it on their Instagram, that our queen Máxima had a little Batik encounter.




In 2014 I dedicated a post to our former queen, prinses Beatrix, on how she uses her clothing as tools of expression. She did wear clothing with Batik and Chintz motifs, of which I still don't know if they are handmade or printed textiles, but she wore them on interesting moments in time {Read more in the blogpost Dutch(n)ess}.
Her daughter-in-law, our current queen Máxima, doesn't use clothing in the same. She is very fashionable, but there is no hidden messages to be found, which often is a pity. Yet she started many fashion-trends, we all recall the postbode-zak couture (Mailbag couture). 
So I am not that focussed on what she is wearing, but was focussed on their activities while they visiting many locations in Indonesia. I spotted them wrapped in Ikat, trying a lot of food, but no Batik...until yesterday!
Apparently the day of The Apology, was also the day queen Máxima was shown some Batik during the visit to the presidential palace in Bogor. The palace is at the Botanical Gardens I visited last year. The palace is impressive building with colonial roots. After the post on Danar Hadi, I did some research, and the Queen was not only shown Batik, she tried it even! On only one media outlet I found a picture her making Batik!


Queen Máxima making Batik, source Vanitatis Style

I also asked around and got kindly from Miss Asti of Museum Danar Hadi some background information. Danar Hadi advised Ibu Iriana, the first lady of Indonesia, to make a display of Batiks with a Indo-European influence, either old ones made by for example Batikentrepreneurs Van Zuylen or Metzelaar or new interpretations made by Danar Hadi. Danar Hadi in Jakarta made the pop-up exhibition at the palace, so it is unclear if the pieces are new or old. But they wanted to address this shared history that can be found in the heritage of Batik.
The piece Queen Máxima is photographed with the most, I could vaguely trace back to a piece I saw during my last visit to the Danar Hadi Batik museum in Solo. The piece attributed Batikentrepreneur Von Franquemont, whom I am researching, is on display right next to a sign with her name. Apart from that, this attribution must be taken very, very lightly. From what I gathered the information got mixed up from the collection over time, was wrongly translated and from the beginning lacked real evidence. Still fun that from all pieces, it is, a new made interpretation of this one, she seems to be wearing.

Batik in the left corner shows a similar motif on the Badan, body, of the cloth, 
photo by me at Museum Danar Hadi

Queen Máxima looking at Batik in pop-exhibition by Danar Hadi, source Paparazzi.buzz

On photos were more of the display is shown, not all Batiks shown, show a clear selection on Indo-European style. The one she was holding and the one on a mannequin has things we can interpret as Indo-European influence, but the rest seems to be clearly more modern designs.
While looking for the photos of the queen, I remembered previous collections made by Danar Hadi inspired by Indo-European Batik designs. They make a ready to wear collection called DAYS. 
DAYS is made with only printed textiles, but based on designs from the huge collection of original handmade Batiks. So often designs are very recognisable, although they get modernised.

DAYS 2018 Collection inspired by Chinese parade motif 

They had a recent collection with bouquets and birds. One with a Chinese parade in 2018, based on a famous Batik attributed to Batikentrepeneur Van Oosterom, who I am also researching, and can be found on the cover of 'Van koelies, klontongs en kapiteins; Het beeld van de Chinezen in Indisch-Nederlands literair proza 1880-1950' by Widjajanti Wediarini Dharmowijono.
But then there was the one that still surprised me. The DAYS collection from 2017 had the name Prajurit, soldier. It is a one on one copy of Batiks know as Batik Kompeni, or Batik Perang Lombok. Thought is that they depict the Lombok War (1894) and were made for the winner, which are in this case the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL). The story goes that KNIL soldiers would order these Batiks to display their victory. Adding to this, they made their wives wear them.
There is still much unclear on how accurate the story on these type of Batiks is, but there are many Batiks with war scenes depicted on them dated from early 1890's till beginning of the 19th century. The only pictures I found thus far of people wearing them, is of Javanese women accompanied by KNIL  soldiers... 
A complex design on many levels and I think appropriate to address here. To show the shared history through Batik, we have many options. But we also have to first uncover their stories better, who made them and why, and in more depth. However it is interesting that a motif I see as problematic, was used as a Fashionable print. In view of Cultural Appropriation this is also a very difficult one to explain. What happened in many Indo-European designs was in fact an early example of Cultural Appropriation. Yet it was made first specifically by and for a group that was of Indonesian and European descent. And this is were the bridge is, a not so easy to take bridge, looking back at the beginning of this post with all the thoughts on our Royal couple visiting Indonesia. But it is a bridge we have to maintain by sharing stories, so we can build a stronger path to pass on our shared history and heritage.


Arak - Arakan Pecinan Nerdy Cute Shirt from the 2018 DAYS by Danar Hadi Collection

'Prajurit' announcement from the DAYS by Danar Hadi collection on Instagram in September 2017

'Prajurit' shirt for men from the DAYS by Danar Hadi collection

The original Batik on which the 'Prajurit' collection is based on display 
at Danar Hadi Museum in Solo, photo by me

*** Photos are from different media sources online or by me - source is mentioned, of some it is the site it was published on

February 11, 2020

Power Dressing - introducing Diyan of Kain Kita

Berbagi Cerita Kain Vol. 2, Sharing Fabric Stories, a Kain Kita event


During my last visit to Java, October 2019, I had many surprising encounters. Not all nice, but some very nice, so overall the balance was right.
For my first talk at Museum Tekstil in Jakarta, for which by far I was the most nervous, I got to must wonderful moderator, Nurdiyansah Dalidjo. He look so sharp in his white blouse on a loosely wrapped sarong. He addressed me in perfect English asking me all kinds of questions on my research.  Since I didn't really get much information on the event before, I had no idea who he was, but it was such a warm and interesting welcome. We talked short about what we both did and agreed on exchanging our activities on our platforms, since sharing is the best way of getting our messages across. So meet Diyan of Kain KitaPenjelajah Rempah.

Diyan introducing me at Museum Tekstil, October 2019
Photo by Daniel Singaland


Nurdiyansah (Diyan) is an interdisciplinary writer, researcher, and activist who seeks to memorialise the role of spices as the ingredients that fueled the revolution in Indonesia. He started his career as a journalist and has a master’s degree in tourism, and has over 10 years’ experience in development issues. He is currently based in Jakarta and spends his time exploring colonial histories through food and textiles in Indonesia.

Following Diyan on Social Media I got more and more inspired by what he shared. A post on his Instagram showed him posing casually in a woven textile from the weavers from Rendu, Nusa Tenggara Timur, part of the Lesser Sunda Islands. He start the post with the word "Power Dressing!", he continuing to explain that wearing fabrics made by Indigenous women is a way of connecting to their struggle, a way of addressing it. That their struggle of functioning in a world dominated by patriarchy, is closely related to Diyan's own position in the Indonesian world dominated by heteronormativity. 
"I define myself as queer. I was born and raised in Jakarta, but both my parents are from Yogyakarta - a region in Indonesia known for its Batik. As a city kid, kain {textiles in Bahasa Indonesia} is not part of our daily lives. Many people in the metropolitan especially the youth labels kain as something traditional, old, complicated to wear and just not modern thing.... Kain as a tradition is also downgraded by the Developmentalism that is considered important in Jakarta. Traditional textiles get marginalised, alienated.... until now the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia are still not acknowledged." Diyan wrote me.
When following recent developments in Indonesia there doesn't seem much improvement in this acknowledge of the rights of Indigenous people, nor for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. I was on Java when the student demonstrations were held, and it seemed their protest were in vain (read a little more here & here).
"Kain inspired me not to give up. Kain become a symbol from which I can show my to support women. By buying kain I can support these women economically. And with Kain Kita I can share their story."
Diyan, together with Cassandra Grant, started Kain Kita, to share the power of Indonesian textile through online articles, events and more. They share stories from makers and hope to inspire the youth to buy kain directly from the makers.  
Through their #WomenAreHeroes series, Kain Kita introduce women from across Indonesia who use kain as a means to reclaim their rights and authority over their selves and bodies, cultural identity, and their traditional territories.
For example the story of Mama Aleta. Aleta Kornelia Ba’un (more commonly known as Mama Aleta) is an indigenous woman from the Molo community in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). Her fame as an indigenous leader and activist has spread across Indonesia and internationally, largely due to her success in staging weaving protests against mining companies and preventing the destruction of her community’s sacred lands. Their indigenous land is the key to their identity, the materials to weave their traditional textiles are all from here: the cotton and natural dyes. Mama Aleta managed to bring together 150 women, while being threatened violently, to spent a year sitting on the marble rocks at the quarry, quietly weaving their traditional fabrics in protest. A weaving occupation! 

From the article 'Women Are Heroes, Stories of Resistance Behind the Beauty of Kain' 22 April 2019 by Kain Kita

"Meanwhile, kain representing the hybridity. The richness of our culture is not taken for granted. Kain recorded many things, our history and how we adopted and adjusted to different cultures. 
So our kain not just as beautiful thing, but also a representation of our tolerance and shows how open we actually are to differences..."
The Indonesian saying and political campaign slogan "Bhineka Tunggal Ika",  meaning "unity in diversity" seems often a touristic cliche, but in the textiles of Indonesia this is still so clearly the case and it would be a pity if these values of Indonesia would be lost.


Diyan wearing kain tenun by the weavers of Rendu, 
Nusa Tenggara Timur, part of the Lesser Sunda Islands

Of course I was curious to know if Diyan has a favourite among all the beautiful Indonesian textiles.
He explained that he likes Ikat, a common weaving technique for the Sunda-islands. He likes it because of its complexity; in the making with the backstrap-loom and the use of natural dyes.
The favoriete textile he owns is a kain tenun by the weavers in Rendu. The textile he wears in his 'Power Dressing' post. The weaving women of Rendu are forming their own protest. A dam is planned for their region, which will cause many issues for their land, like the mining did for the people of Molo. By buying their textiles, you can support these weavers in sustaining their activities in weaving, and protesting! What a beautiful story, and what a beautiful textile! Indeed, the power of dressing!

Kain Kita goals of promoting Indonesian textiles by showing their wearability and their strength is inspiring and I am very happy I met Diyan. It was not only nice to meet him, he was also a very good moderator. He helped me so well getting my story across, translating some extra things to the audience and just gave me the support I needed.
I am also happy to find that places as Museum Tekstil in Jakarta give us the opportunity to share our stories and give our platforms space in such an important institute, so also a special thanks to Ibu Ari.
Looking forward following Kain Kita's textile journey and if you want to read more, please check them out on their website 'Kain Kita', on Instagram & YouTube!




November 6, 2019

More Books then Batiks

Catalog 'A Royal Treasure, the Javanese Batik collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam' (2019) 
by Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in Bangkok, 
surrounded by flyers and souvenirs from their giftshop

This last journey to Batik I manage to collect more books then Batiks. I also got many books as gift so could bring less Batiks, but since I love books, I am very happy with these (for me) new interesting sources of information.  I thought a kind of review-sharing-book-post would be good, so here we go.

First the long anticipated catalog of the exhibition A Royal Treasure, the Javanese Batik collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam. I was already lucky that I could plan my journey in a way that I could include a visit to this exhibition, I was later even more lucky my illness didn't prevent me from seeing it. So the first thing me and John Ang did was going here. John already went before, twice I believe, for me I only heard the stories. Since making photos is strictly prohibited seeing the exhibition felt like a real must and getting a copy of the fresh from the press catalog a dream come true. The exhibition will change two more times and surely it will two times more be filled with exquisite beauties. Every piece is of the finest quality, displayed nicely, yet something is missing. The story of the King collecting these pieces himself in three visits is inspiring and trilling, yet this story is somehow not really shared in much detail. The pieces are of the highest quality and therefor were very expensive, but no real personal taste is being revealed of the King. 
Next to that, it is unclear what information is from notes, either kept with the Batiks or from the letters (and diary?) of the King, and what is added by the curator and others. This is a pity because now it is difficult to determine what pieces might reveal something new. And something new they can definitely reveal. 
The Batiks where collected between 1871 and 1901. For certain all pieces are from before 1901 and some are dated even better, because they were archived with notes which mentioned when and where they were bought. An unique time-capsule which could make it possible to date or attribute Batiks in other collections more clearly, but it was done the other way around....
The notes are not all published in the catalog, but at least the footnotes makes it a little more clear which information comes from where. In the exhibition this is not the case and it makes you wonder how this information is being received. If I read signs in museums, I assume that what is stated is a fact, or if it is “we think” that it is mentioned as ‘attributed to or possible from’. If you mention a place the Batik is made, but this is not known for sure, I think it would be good to add this in the information. 
Why, you might wonder. 
Well, still of many older Batiks in collections we are not sure where they are actually made. This is especially the case with Batiks from the North-coast of Java. In theory their style, motifs and colours are very different, but in reality provenance, the place of origin or earliest known history, can be quite hard to determine. Some pieces in collections get attributed to different places, and people, over time. Some pieces lose their original tags or get new ones. In every book Batiks will get used to declare a new theory or are used to give other Batiks an origin. 
Of course you might think, why does this matter...it is used merely as a ‘game of cloths’ between researchers. Yes, it was for the longest time just that, but this is no longer a collection problem, but a creation problem. Batikmakers and entrepreneurs are facing problems with their own Batik history. Batikworkshops had their history in cloths, keeping old Batiks to revisit motifs or having them traced on paper. With the war on Java much of this history got lost and for many the history of their batik legacy was stopped or paused. If there were Batiks kept, they were often sold in the years following. Batik was not on high demand and backpacking adventurers wanted to pay good money for your old laundry. So these golden times for collectors are now showing their effect on Batikmakers. Now restarting Batikworkshops facing the problem of not having anything to fall back to. If lucky they have a few pieces from their family that they can combine with the knowledge stored in the mind and hand of the makers. With this need for knowledge of this history they turn to books & search online. Over the years I saw more and more motifs appear on Batiks I know from famous Batikbooks then ever before. A real realisation of how problematic this might be came to me, when a Batik entrepreneur showed me her new classic motif and moments later the book she copied if from. She pointed at the description; “This was made here!”
Yes, inspiration can be taking from anywhere and they are free to take it from books. But they use it because it is one of the few ways they get access to their own Batikhistory. They want to tell their story, continue their story. So we have to make sure that that story is as complete and correct as possible, but how do we do this?
One wish mentioned by many, Batikmakers and researchers, is the need for a kind of catalog/database that will make this North-coast Batikhistory more clear. Especially the development of Batik in Pekalongan, Batang, Semarang, Lasem and the connecting regions. There is so much debate going on about this; how to deal with this history, how makers should or should not use it, how we can use what is made today to examine what was made before or if old patterns should be re-introduced. 
What would help in this, in examining this history and using this history as current inspiration, is if we knew better what came from where and when. 
So that why the collection King Rama V made is so important and it is a great start, the exhibition and the catalog, but I am sure much more can be discovered!

One of the many full page printed fold outs of the catalog 'A Royal Treasure, the Javanese Batik collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam' (2019) 

Page from the catalog 'A Royal Treasure, the Javanese Batik collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam' (2019) with PR-fan and a bag label especially made for the giftshop based on a Batik motif from the collection

In September two ladies of National Palace Museum of Taiwan visited the Volkendkunde Museum and I was asked to show them our digitale Batik collection - This book arrived by post while I was on Java, a beauty with an overview of their textile collection including Batik - 'Boldness of Forms and Colors, Asian Textiles in the National Palace Museum Collection' (2015) photographed together with folders and gifts from the museum - Much appreciated!

'Industri Batik Pekalongan, Pergulatan Tanpa Akhir' by Achmad Ilyas (2018)  and 'Ensiklopedia The Heritage of Batik, Identitas Pemersatu Kebanggaan Bangsa' (2016) on a Tobal Batik sarong

A few days after my talk at Museum Batik in Pekalongan historian and auteur Achmad Ilyas gifted me his book Industri Batik Pekalongan, Pergulatan Tanpa Akhir. The book published in 2018 was only made for local use and therefor in Bahasa Indonesia and not for sale. I was really happy with this gift, because it gives me a great insight on what is known and where the information comes from. Talking with Pak Achamd it already became clear that his sources where from the Netherlands or locally from oral history. He mentioned that in Pekalongan specifically little could still be found and that maybe in Jakarta more was stored. In his book it is interesting to see photos from the Tropenmuseum, next to an Batik collection from a collector from Pekalongan. 
When I started my project, I had the question if their was a lack of information on Java to proper research their own Batik history. I noticed that many sources are here and they are not always easily accessible because they are often handwritten in Dutch and not digital yet. This auteur and book, and many others spoke to confirmed this and confirmed the need to improve this.
I photographed the book next to Ensiklopedia The Heritage of Batik, Identitas Pemersatu Kebanggaan Bangsa, because this book is made with very different sources. Namely links to blogpost and online articles. I never saw a book like this before and on one hand I salute it being a blogger and all that, on the other hand, I know how many mistakes float online, also on my own blog hehe, so how trust worthy is this Encyclopaedia? Still an interesting book and very happy Jennifer found me a copy, many thanks! 

While the book 'Industri Batik Pekalongan' mostly rely on Dutch sources, 
the Ensiklopedia is full of url's

Book '50 years Danar Hadi' open on the page where they produce silkscreen printed textiles 
- it breaks my heart that an institute like Danar Hadi sells printed textiles next to Batik Tulis and Cap, yet I appreciate they are very open about it - the book is shown on a Batik Cap blouse 
and next to a Batik Cap handbag

Book 'Batik 3 Negeri Solo, Sebuah Lengenda' by Benny Gratha (2018) 
and flyer of the Roemah Batik Lasem where they soon open a 'Tiga Negeri Museum' 
on top of the Java print classic 'Good Living'

Tiga Negeri was by far the hottest thing on Java. Either I didn't notice before, or it was always like that, or  it is because I am making my own 'Tiga Negeri'? It was as if all makers had now a version of it and it was everywhere a hot topic. 
The textile conservator Benny Gratha made quite the impact with his book Batik 3 Negeri Solo, Sebuah Lengenda published in 2018. The story that Tiga Negeri was Batik being made in three places, was debunked by him. The Tjoa Batik Family told their story to Pak Benny claiming they invented the name Tiga Negeri after the Chinese story 'The Legend of the Three Kingdom' and have been making it since 1910.
I talked with him myself about and shared the contradicting findings I made. He just had the very Javanese answer to it; their truth is just one of the truths about Tiga Negeri.
In Lasem I was surprised to be shown around the, what is going to be the first and only, Museum of Tiga Negeri. Proudly I was showed the already finished information signs. I joked that they might need to re-write this when my research project is done. But in fact it is not a joke at all.
I come across documents, fabrics and photos in archives I never saw mentioned or used before. Some will definitely shine light on stories being told & histories written, some will help proving stories are wrong, right or incomplete. Some stories will be right, but with the wrong conclusions.
We have this need of sharing big stories, while most histories are build up out of many individual tales. Just like Pak Benny said, not one truth but many. Of course we can't share everyone's stories, Social Media disagrees with me on this one, but we must make sure that the stories that are being told are the right ones; the ones that inspire, empower, make our horizons wider and our future better. By excluding stories or telling them from one point of view, will not benefit us. Hopefully it will inspire people to share their story. So thanks for sharing these stories and I am looking forward to visit the Tiga Negeri Museum!

Book 'Power Dressing, Lanna Shan Siam 19th Century Court Dress' 
by the James H.W. Thompson Foundation (2003), 
my first book on Thai traditional wear and it is with stunning photos of the clothing, 
photographed with the pineapple bag I bought in Bangkok 
on top of a map and Jim Thompson giftbag

Catalog '10th year challenges: Indonesian Batik as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' 
by Museum Tekstil in Jakarta, (2019), 
book 'Java.Bali.Sumatra, photographies de 1860 a 1920' by Les Éditions du Pacifique (2000) 
and catalog 'The Jakarta Textile Museum' (1998) 
on top of two linnen bags


For more information on the books, content or where to get, please feel free to contact me (email or comment below) 

October 27, 2019

Ke Lasem, Ancestors & Batikfamily

Groupphoto at Roemah Merah after my talk
Screening at Ibu Maryati’s home

On 17 October I returned to Lasem, just like in 2016 on 17 October and in 2009 on 17 October. How I manage to arrive every time on exactly the same date is a mystery to me, but in Lasem they just say some ancestor is calling me.
From Yogya we, me, Hanif and her husband Abe, departed for the 6 hour journey. I never mind traveling here since the views are amazing and it is like watching a movie from your window.
The road brought us back to Semarang, where we passed Mount Ungaran. When we got closer to Lasem it was already dark, so I missed out on the familiar salt winning plots.
I got dropped of at my new temporary home, Rumah Oei, in Lasem. A classic Peranakan house, turned into a café, guesthouse and museum. My room, Rama Shinta, has the biggest bed I ever saw. An old four-poster bed with beautiful decorations on it, it make me feel like a princess.

Mount Ungaran from the car
At Roemah Oei
Wall full of family photos at Roemah Oei

The next morning I got breakfast at the restaurant for guesthouse-guests with a view on the huge mango tree that dropped fruit every 5 minutes or so and a bird signing in its cage.
They opened up the little museum, and I was so amazed. The collection of the family Oei is on display there. They had multiple businesses and even made Batik. My favorite display was a showcase filled with sarong and kebaya in boxes, little portraits of the women it belong to stand between the boxes. Also the wall with the family photos was impressive. It covered the wall completely. I love this tradition of hanging your family-tree literally in photos on the wall!

Mango harvest at Ibu Maryati
Batikmakers of Gading Kencana 
Hanif and Ibu Ramini talking tailoring for Batik shirts
Batikmakers at Sekar Kencana

After the museum visit, I took a Grab to the batikworkshop Gading Kencana, run by Ibu Maryati, Hanif’s mother. It was great to see the landscape from the back of a motorcycle, but it also worries me how dry everything is.
Arriving at Ibu Maryati, I was asked to go to the back, because they were harvesting Mangos. First thing I did was eating a Mango, but I was also already fancy dressed for my talk that evening.
After seeing the batikmakers and picking out batiks to buy, I headed to Ibu Ramini. Her Batikworkshop KUB Srikandi is were my ‘journey to Batik’ really began. I was so happy to see her again and loved that she right away had tailor questions for Hanif, {Hanif makes fashion from Batik and specialized in Sarong and kebaya}. Ibu Ramini invited me to come the next day to her batik-class and she promised to attend my talk later that day.
Next stop, Pak Sigit’s workshop ‘Sekar Kencana.’ . At first they didn’t want to let us in, and when we got in, the Batiks with Mr. Sigit signature were not available. The son in law asked us to return the next day, he hoped he could show us the pieces then.

Screening of ‘Tari Batik’ at Roemah Merah
Mr. Pop & Ibu Eka at Lumintu Batikworkshop 
Student at Ibu Ramini KUB Srikandi

In the evening was my presentation at Roemah Merah. Only a two minutes walk from Roemah Oei. I got invited by Bodhi Pop, or Mister Popular, from the Lasem Heritage Foundation. I didn’t know this group before, only online, and was amazed finding a huge community dedicated to protecting and promoting Lasem culture and heritage. Rumah Merah is a huge complex, actually consist of two Peranakan homes. They are building a ‘Tiga Negeri’ Museum that hopefully opens beginning of next year, super exciting! And they have beautiful guest-rooms also.
The foundation give tours and organize events to inspire a new generation to enjoy Lasem rich culture. I felt honoured I could share my journey here.
At the entrance they prepared for my talk and I think 30 people or more showed up, including Ibu Ramini and Ibu Maryati. Even two people drove all the way from Kudus! I heard later that no researcher actually ever come share their story in Lasem, so it is a rare occasion. I was so surprised to hear this, many Batik-researchers include Lasem in their studies & books, why not present it here then? For me it felt very logical to share my story here, a wish of mine to screen my film, so happy I got this stage.
I started with screening my film and after that gave my talk on my current research-project. My translator had a very hard time, being very nervous and not finding the words, but in general my talk came across well, I hope.
After my talk there were many questions from the audience. It was very interesting again. A batik entrepreneur replied that many of the motif attributed to Von Franquemont are still being made in her workshop now. She asked if the meaning of these motifs were known since most meanings of patterns are lost today. At the time my translator didn’t make this clear and later Abe explained it to me. I think it would be really great if we can trace back old stories about these motifs and return them to Lasem. Most motifs are based on old Chinese tales and sayings, so there must be ways of finding it out. I hope I can meet her again when I return here next time and share ideas on this.
After a very long photoshoot, groupphoto/selfie/together with me, the night came to an end. It was such a warm response and I was so happy I got the chance to share my story here with this amazing audience! Thank you Mr. Pop and the Lasem Heritage Foundation!

The next morning, Mr. Pop was already waiting for me a quarter before 8. Nobody here is early, but he works with foreigners a lot, so I still needed to dry my hair and have breakfast. We headed to the Batikworkshop Lumintu, also just around the corner. A bright blue entrance hide away an amazing Peranakan house. The owner Ibu Eka is third generation of batik entrepreneur, however her parents didn’t run a workshop, but her grandparents did. She returned 4 years ago back to Lasem to take care of her mother and started up the batikworkshop. Not many old pieces got passed on, but Pak Hartono’s book ‘Batik Pesisir turned out to be a welcome source for inspiration.
Lumintu is specialized in high quality Tiga Negeri. Beautiful, but a bit above my price range at the moment. Ibu Eka showed two unfinished pieces, both in blue. One had almost the same kepala as Eliza von Zuylen once made. I needed to have it & was happy Ibu Eka allowed me to buy it!
After this short visit, I headed to Ibu Ramini. There her batikclass was in full progress. Every week a different class of the same local school, SDN Jeruk Kec. Pencur, gets a class in making Batik on Saturdays. At least 25 children were there this day and most ran out to great me with a hand shake {they take your hand and put it on their forehead or nose}. The class was copying their design onto cloth and the one finished with this started the batik making. It was so wonderful to be at this class, I admire Ibu Ramini greatly for putting so much effort in inspiring a new generation of Batikmakers. She explained that from all students, maybe 2 will became batikmakers. So only 2 precent...!
I just sit there, watched and filmed. So great to return here after 3 years. One day I just want to be here and join the batikmakers and learn from Ibu Ramini! For now this afternoon had to do. 

Full class at Ibu Ramini
Me and Ibu Ramini showing one of her beautiful designs

That evening I would share my film one last time on Java. Back to where it started, and back to where I filmed Miss Dwi perform her Tari Batik. Of course the screening was on the same date as I filmed her in 2016 - ancestors must be guiding my way, I have no way of explaining this. So full circle in every way!
Before the screening we went to the beach. I never was there before and it is so beautiful. Me and Ibu Maryati drank a coconut and shared smiles. It was so nice and I feel it is my batikfamily.
At the home we waiting for the batikmakers to arrive. Many snacks were served and when everyone got there, I gave an intro that got translated by Abe and Hanif. Everyone watched the movie full focus. Ibu Maryati asked which makers and where, and everyone enjoyed watching the others. At the end everyone laughed so hard - not like normally because a man is riding through my shot, but because they know this man, hahaha.
The screening was really the cherry on top this journey - Thank you Hanif for helping, thank you Abe for everything, thank you Ibu Maryati fir welcoming me and hosting the screening and special thanks to Miss Dwi, thank you for being part of my journey to Batik!

Salt winning near the sea
With my batikfamily at the beach 
Screening at Ibu Maryati’s home
Together with the batikmakers of Gading Kencana


The next day we had to leave again. At Ibu Maryati’s house I could still watch the pelorodan, the boiling out the wax. Her husband and two of the makers were boiling out the newly made batiks. A nice ending of this visit.
This time was really too short, but even if it was too short, I was so happy to return there.
Lets wish till next 17 October!

Boiling out the wax


*So my report on Lasem got delayed, just like me journey. On my last night on Java, in Jakarta, I eat something my body didn’t approve of and got really sick right away. I had to go to the hospital the next morning and missed my flight to Bangkok. I was literally grounded and I could only continued my journey on Thursday {typing this while getting ready to leave Jakarta}.

** Happy to inform I went to Bangkok on Thursday 24 October, writing this will boarding my plane