August 19, 2019

Ways of promoting Batik

Photo I made in 2009, of a huge (former) Batik pasar in Pekalongan 
were we only found printed textiles

“Batik is more than just patterns and designs on material, although that is part of it. Batik making is actually a process; it is an art and it is our national and cultural heritage.”

He {Malaysian Craft Council president Nik Mohd Faiz Nik M. Amin} added that batik needs to be made accessible to all, especially today’s younger generation.

“Although machine-printed batik might not be considered actual batik, which is handpainted, it is a start to reach out to the younger generation because it is cheaper and more accessible,” he said.

This is part of article published in May on the Malaysian quest to promote traditional wear and therefor Batik. The idea was that more Batik would be bought eventually when you promote printed textiles. These printed textiles would be easily available to a younger generation and will make them eventually fall in love with Batik and buy actual Batik...
By promoting printed textiles, you are just promoting fast fashion and even create more distance between investing in an actual piece of heritage. When I responded this on Facebook were the article was shared and that this is not helping Batik in any way, I was told not be a gatekeeper and that handmade Batik was not part of the future...That I needed to embrace new developments...
Several months later and I am still totally bugged out by this and in the mean time only more people thought they could promote heritage by using printed textiles. 

I am seeing important 'kwartiermakers' or influencers making the choice of promoting clothing that is neither original, nor sustainable, under the flag of shared heritage & being in touch with your roots. They use all the right keywords, as mentioned in the sentence above, but aren't actually making a product that is helping anyone else then themselves. This in the process brings down the value of brands that actually try to incorporate all these factors and try to actually grow and learn. 
Words can lose value and also alter meanings. We should stop using terms as 'celebrating {my Indonesian} roots', 'exclusively produced', 'sustainable', 'embracing culture heritage', 'real/authentic {Indonesian} textiles', if the products aren't! 
Some new brands recently launched using this terminology actually are selling fast fashion tracksuit, shirts, skirts or robes. Which are neither there nor here considered valuable. This value is added by the one using these words and the people who buy into it!

At the same time, I get the gatekeeper remark. How do you promote, help and maybe even restore something, that is of much culture value, if it is not necessarily your culture and if it is not your own livelihood. There is the danger of speaking up for a group that is totally able of speaking up for themselves. There is the danger of assuming what makers struggle with, what aspects of the heritage make it difficult to progress to the future and what elements endanger it. 
I really don't know what is the right way and if for an outsider it is even possible to do right. 
Saying this, at the same time it can be so frustrating to know what totally endangers a heritage and see it happening all over in the name of actually preserving it. Yes, I am talking about buying & selling printed textiles/'Batik Print'/textiles with batikmotifs on it. On all fronts it will be beter to stop doing this. And yes, it will be difficult, because we tend to gravitate to choices making (us) money and not necessarily improving anything for anyone, but let's try! 

A development on Batik I did get excited about is this new App:

The Ministry of Industry introduced Batik Analyzer, a smartphone application, during this year's Nusantara Batik Exhibition in Jakarta on Friday. The app is available for Android and iOS smartphone operating systems and uses artificial intelligence, which right now, can differentiate the original from a counterfeit item about 75 percent of the time, said Titik Purwati Widowati, head of the Yogyakarta Center for Crafts and Batik.

This article, also from May, shared a different approach on how to promote Batik. An app is in development that would be able to detect if a textile is actually a Batik or a fake. The Batik Analyzer was in May only 75% accurate and the Balai Batik Center hopes to get it at 90%. 
A fun app, which will definitely reach a younger audience. It will invite people to investigate, explore this heritage. Will make people ask questions, even more importantly the right ones. Because if you don't make people aware of the fact that a printed textile is not and will not be the same as a Batik, they can not make the choice of supporting it. Can't wait to try out the App myself! 

The differences between these two plans to promote Batik, couldn't have been bigger and it is also very clear which one could actually work. 
I was called as a 'batikactivist' after my 'Batik Stand, a Stand for Batik' project at the Tong Tong Fair. A title I really liked and found flattering, still I stick to 'batikblogger' for now. But yes, it can be consider as a kind of activisme and I think Batik totally deserves fighting for. Are you with me?
Share your thoughts with me and feel free to share any questions or idea you have regarding Batik (or other cultural textiles) and how to insure this heritage future!

[I know I keep it vague, not naming names of the brands. This I do, because I haven't talked to them personally. I would like to, but the products are already out there, so not much can be be done about that, yet I would love it if they consider some re-framing.
At the same time, if you read this and think, hey wait a minute, that's my shirt/skirt/tracksuit, she is writing about; Please feel free to contact me, I hereby offer you a short, free lecture on what is real Batik and why you should totally use & promote it ;)]

To read more:

Mentioned the article 'Join the ‘Wear Malaysian batik’ revolution' already in this post on 'Dior and their new 'African inspired' collection'

Previous post on 'Is Batik Fair?'

July 5, 2019

Project Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik

Initiated by artist and batikblogger Sabine Bolk

In the literature, some sources state that Batik entrepreneur Carolina Josephina von Franquemont was swept away in a landslide, while others state she died after a long illness. I became intrigued with this discrepancy in Batik history, which made me wonder about other existing literature we have accepted as fact, when there is still more research to be done. Talking with experts in the field; Batikmakers and researchers, it became clear to me that the history of how the Batik-style changed between 1850 and 1890 needed to be re-examined and re-told. Not by one person, or from one point of view, but as inclusive as possible. Including views of today’s makers with ideas from both sides, the Dutch and the Indonesian perspective.

With this project the goal is re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik between 1850 and 1890 on the North- coast of Java, Indonesia, together with Batikmakers, researchers, museums, collectors and Batik fans within a Post-colonialism framework. Answers are given in words and images to the following question: How was Batik influenced by Europe?
Can this influence truly be traced back to one or two individuals, Indo- Europese Batik entrepreneurs Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867) and Catharina Carolina van Oosterom-Philips (1816-1877)? And what other factors played a role in this development? How is this evident in Batik designs from before 1890, from before Batiks were signed, and what can actually be considered as an (Indo-) European influence?
During the project what is collected in the Netherlands is connected to today’s Batikmakers on Java. In the form of a Summerschool for Batikmakers and with an open access online platform.

The project consist of three parts:
Part I - Research at RCMC, from June 2019 until June 2020
Part II - Exchange on Java - Re-telling the history, in October 2019
and (hopefully) Summer 2020 in collaboration with Museum Batik in Pekalongan, 
Museum Tekstil in Jakarta and Indonesian Pluralisme Institute (IPI)
Part III - Sharing, throughout the project on an online-platform and in partnership 
with Modemuze the project will be shared in a blogpost-series and with meet-ups

To create a base on which the re-telling is done, the research starts with collecting (digital) material from collections in the Netherlands and Indonesia; i.a. National Museum van Wereldculturen, Rijksmuseum, Textielmuseum Tilburg, KITLV, University Library Leiden, Vlisco archive, Museum Tekstil in Jakarta and Museum Batik in Pekalongan.
The research is done in the form of a Research Associate position at the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC). With Francine Brinkgreve, Curator Insular Southeast Asia and Daan van Dartel, Curator Popular Culture and Fashion as my supervisors.

National Museum van Wereldculturen holds an important collection of Batiks from this era, including Batiks collected by G.P. Rouffaer and Batiks from the World fairs in 1878 and 1883.
The collection also holds 21 Batiks attributed to Von Franquemont and 15 attributed to Van Oosterom, the so called ‘Mothers of Batik Belanda’. This is almost half of all Batiks attributed to them.
All gathered material will be compared to and connected with Batiks in the NMvW collection. Hopefully it will provide more concrete information on the makers and the owners/collectors.
Next to collecting material, I would also like to interview researchers, collectors and other experts on this influence and how it was interpreted before and how they think about it now.
All gathered material will be compared to and connected with Batiks in the NMvW collection. Hopefully it will provide more concrete information on the makers and the owners/collectors. Next to collecting material, I would also like to interview researchers, collectors and other experts on this influence and how it was interpreted before and how they think about it now.

Batik has inspired me for 10 years now. Not just the technique, but the language of patterns, the philosophy of Batik. The last two years I have been fascinated by this particular history. A history from which the maker of today is far removed, yet they are intertwined with this history since the process of learning Batik is passed on from one generation to another. With this project I want to re-connect the makers to what is stored in depots with a Summerschool on Java and though the online- platform. At the same time this re-connecting functions as a re-telling, adding the story of contemporary makers to written history and replacing assumptions with facts. The last 10 years I researched Batik by myself. Luckily I have all this access to information from both sides, but I have come to a point where I need institutional support to make the next step, in getting this project to the level it needs to be. So I am very happy I can collaborate and work with RCMC, Modemuze, Museum Tekstil, Museum Batik and IPI. I see myself as the initiator of this project. Together with the collaborations here and on Java, I believe the re-telling can be done in a way not done before and thus creating a fuller truth.

The last 2,5 year I have been preparing this project, first everything went really slow and eventually really fast. I am still lacking funding for this project and also need to work out when I can share what where. I am building a new website that will function as an online-platform, just started as a Research Associate and am preparing my return to Java for end of September. So many things are set in motion!

If this project resonates with you and you want to contribute to it, please contact me. Maybe I already reached out to you in these past years. Any research, thoughts and ideas on this topic are welcome. If you have a paper/thesis on this subject you would like to make available. Or if you have Batiks or family photos of people wearing Sarong and Kebaya from before 1900. This project is about sharing and making this history available, so looking forward to your stories!

Read more:
In May 2017 my article about Carolina Josephina von Franquemont was published on Modemuze in Dutch 'Verzwolgen en verdwenen: de batik erfenis van Franquemont', English version on this blog 'What happened to Von Franquemont'

May 23, 2019

Baobab Batik & Butik Batik

Baobab Batik Leggings
Photo by Baobab Batik

When it comes to Batik, it is important to realise that this technique is used worldwide. The technique is at least a 1000 years old and old fragments were found in places like Egypte and throughout Asia.
Before it was practiced on Java in Indonesia, Batik was already part of the Indian block-printing proces of Chintz and the Miao people of China used it in their traditional wear.
So although Batik is the official Unesco heritage of Indonesia, and Indonesia is working hard to protect their living tradition, handmade Batik is flourishing in other places  too.

One of these places is in Swaziland. Swaziland, officially the Kingdom of Eswatini, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is on my wish-list to visit, and my first stop would be Baobab Batik.
Baobab Batik is a social enterprise founded by Els Hooft in 1991. She wished to follow her passion of creating batiks, as well as offering sustainable work opportunities for women. Since then Baobab Batik has evolved into a thriving enterprise employing 35 artisans full time.
I was following Baobab Batik on Instagram for some time, when they shared some legging they were making for a costumer. I was on the look out for legging with Batik for a while and contacted them directly. I was able to order some pairs for me & some other Batik/legging fans. The package took forever to get here by snailmail and the envelop covered with stamps made me laugh. The leggings were gorgeous & I since then I rocked them weekly, especially in Winter time. Perfect way of wearing Batik without freezing!

Since, I believe it is now one year, Baobab Batik has a reseller in the Netherlands. In 2014 Mirjam van Gelder started Butik Batik {Butik is shop in Bahasa Indonesia}. First her focus was on Batik from Indonesia, but now she focus on products by Baobab Batik. Also she is added other resist-dyes & eco-printed items to her stock.
Since beginning of this year she opened a shop {for retail} at the Retailbeurs, the Trade Mart in Utrecht. The Trade Mart is located behind the Central Station. With a free downloadable ticket you can visit Butik Batik every Monday. I went there when she just moved her store there and had a great talk.
I had invited her to the Wastra Weekend, but her car broke down on that day, so we missed out on her products.
So we finally met and talk about of course Batik, but also the importance of sustainability in what you sell, buy and practice in daily life. Mirjam is,  like me, trying to live plastic free & it is wonderful to meet someone who choose to stand for something sustainable & handmade between a lot of mass-produced stuff. She is not the only one at Trade Mart with handmade things, but not all have such a clear and great story as Mirjam's Butik Batik.

Folded Baobab Batik scarfs at Butik Batik

Elephant stuffed animals & pillows by Baobab Batik at Butik Batik 

More Elephants, so cute! And super (eco-)friendly, so safe for kids

A post shared by Sabine Bolk (@sabinebolk) on

To re-stock on leggings for myself for the Tong Tong Fair {because I am planning to wear Batik every day for all 11 days} I visited Butik Batik the Monday before the Tong Tong Fair started. Happy I did, because I now have some Baobab Batik items at our 'Batik Stand'!
The beautiful Tubular Scarfs, all different colours and lovely designs. They can be used as a scarf, but also as a headwrap. On the cardboard label is a nice drawing of how to wear it as such. Next to the scarfs, I will have the Baobab Batik leggings!!!! Yeah! So come visit our 'Batik Stand' and shop Baobab Batik!

Doris Magaia, Baobab Batik Waxer wearing a Baobab Batik Tubular Scarf
Photo by Baobab Batik

During the 61th Tong Tong Fair me together with Guave will be hosting 'The Batik Stand, A Stand For Batik'. From 23 May till 2 June you can find us on the Grand Pasar for everything about, on and with Batik. Come stand with us for Batik!

For more on Baobab Batik please visit

For more on Butik Batik please visit

May 21, 2019

Baru Belanda, a cookbook wrapped in Batik & Lurik

During the booklaunch I made a little pop-up to share more on KUB Srikandi
the book-covers of the Special Editions are all made 
with one-coloured Batiks designed by Ibu Ramini of KUB Srikandi

Pretty out of the blue I got contacted through Instagram if I wanted to help with a cookbook. Chef Pascal Jalhay was in the middle of preparing his third book, this time all about Indonesian inspired food made by (mostly) Indo-European cooks in the Netherlands. 'BaruBelanda' is a beautiful tribute to this shared history and everyone loves 'Indisch makan', I am no exception. The title is a twist on 'Hollandse Nieuwe' an expression used for the first herring's of the season, which are eaten raw in the Netherlands. It is also used to refer to 'New Dutch', a slang term for immigrants. So it is a great title with many layers, from kitchen to culture.
He contacted me because he wanted to make a special edition, 250 copies in total and was looking for "real Batik" to make a bookcover. Happy he found me and after a short meeting, I imported the first batch of Batiks. His mother made the one-coloured Batiks into envelop shaped covers for the books.

For the Special Edition 'BaruBelanda''s not only has a Batik cover; they are all signed, stamped {with a logo designed by tattoo-legend Henk Schiffmacher} & numbered. The first 150 Special Editions had a banderol made by Sabina de Rozario, or also know as 'Indo in Bali' (Instagram) & 'Door blauwe ogen' (Must read blog). For the banderols she recycled fabrics that were given to her by an Indonesian designer who use to make hippie dresses in the 80's on Bali. Together with recycled cardboard, fishing nets and a hand-stamped text she made beautiful wrappers for the first 150 Special Editions.

The one-coloured Batiks by KUB Srikandi

BaruBelanda Booklaunch

Tropical view in Hotel Jakarta

On the 18 of March 'BaruBelanda' was launched during a spectaculair day at the amazing Hotel Jakarta. I never been there before and I was instantly in love. They created an indoor tropical paradise with banana-plants reaching the glass-ceiling. 
We were first welcomed upstairs with Saya spekkoek likeur, jummie, in a room with a pop-up exhibition of the Liefkes collection, wauw!
The first copy of the book would be given to Henk Schiffmaker, this I knew. That is would be a Special Edition I did not and I also didn't expected to be thanked in Pascal's opening speech {see the speech in the Instagram post below}. All eyes were on me for a second & I was already flushed from spotting all these well known people. 
During the speech trays filled with pretty displayed food came by. I believe in total 14 dishes were served during the booklaunch, all made by the chefs featured in 'BaruBelanda'.

BaruBelanda Special Edition ready for Henk Schiffmacher

Yesterday the new cookbook Baru Belanda {Hollandse Nieuwe} by Pascal Jalhay was launched during a wonderful event at Hotel Jakarta in Amsterdam 📘🇾🇪🍛🥥👨🏻‍🍳🥭🍚🇲🇨The book celebrated the Indo-European cuisine, Indische keuken, in the Netherlands😋The book-launch started with a welcome cocktail by @sayahspekkoeklikeur & speech - @henkschiffmacher was given the first book, a special edition wrapped in the Batik Tulis cover🥰Pascal reached out to me for his project & I was happy I could provide the textiles for the batikcovers on short notice🎉💙The Batiks are made by KUB Srikandi Jeruk from Java, design by Ibu Ramini😍During the opening Pascal refers to me as ‘The Ambassador of Batik in the Netherlands’☺️Thanks Pascal for promoting & supporting Batik Tulis with this amazing project❣️After the opening, the chefs who contribute to the book, made their recipes for us, mine all vegetarian🤤I believe 12 dishes were served😋On the pictures a gado gado, a rendang from eggplant, a dessert with spekkoek and two more🤤So beautiful! And the book is beautiful too, with pictures by @harold13pereira 😍Get your {Special Edition} @barubelanda now! 📘🍛🇲🇨🥥🇾🇪🥭🍚👨🏻‍🍳💙🎉@fontaineuitgevers #barubelanda #food #cookbook #indonesiancuisine #indischekeuken #indonesianfood #kookboek #batik #batiktulis #batikcover #specialedition #pascaljalhay #hoteljakarta #celebration #somuchgoodfood #inspired #lucky #kubsrikandijeruk #iburamini #batikjeruk #batiklasem @hoteljakarta.ams
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Pascal's "rijsttafel", literal interpretation of the 'Rice table'.
'Rijsttafel 'is an elaborate meal adapted by the Dutch following the hidang presentation of nasi Padang of West Sumatra. It consists of many (forty is not an unusual number) side dishes served in small portions accompanied by rice

The Special Editions on the Rice Table

The booklaunch continued downstairs. Everyone was treated to a feast! I got, almost, every dish vegetarian and they all looked too beautiful to be eaten. 
The book itself is as much eye-candy as the dishes served. Next to recipes with great shots by Harold Pereira, the chefs tell their personal story and share their love for Indonesian food. The book elevates Indonesian food into Haute Cuisine.
Even if you don't plan on making any of the recipes, it a great book to read to see where and made 
by who you can get great Indonesian food in the Netherlands.

Some of the dishes served during the booklaunch. Mine were all vegetarian and jummie!

Pascal posing with his parents, Henk Schiffmacher and his wife Louise van Teylingen

My favourite of the day was the dessert, safe the best for last. 
Spekkoek, pandan & chocolate mouse made by the chefs of De Sawa in Delft

Lurik Banderol

BaruBelanda with try-out Lurik Banderol

For the last 100 Special Editions Pascal asked me to make the banderols. I still had these colourful Lurik scarfs from TheAria Batik at home and thought it would make a nice combination with the Batik covers.
Lurik is a woven fabric and recognisable from its long stripes. ‘Lurik’ cloths were called ‘Tenun gendong’ which referred to the use of the cloth to carry things with it. The current name ‘Lurik’ cames from “rik” which means line or threshold. The threshold would give protection to the wearer. 
Lurik use to be made with handloom, nowadays this is done with a foot-treadle loom. On many places this proces is already replaced by machines and many weavers lost their jobs because of that. These Lurik cloths are still from the last places were it is handmade, or feet-made in this case, from the Bantul Regency in the Jogjakarta region.
It was a lot of work, but the end result is great! To every banderol I added two tassels so you can see of which coloured threads were used to make this Lurik. 

Lurik scarfs hanging outside in my garden

Every banderol includes a little explanation about the fabric 'Lurik'

100 pieces ready

Colourful threads tassels

Tong Tong Fair

On Thursday 23 May Pascal Jalhay will present his book 'BaruBelanda' and make a dish from it on the Tong Tong Fair at the 'Kooktheater' at 17h.  His book will be available of course, and if any Special Editions are left, they will also be available.

You will find me also on Thursday at the Tong Tong Fair.
During the 61th Tong Tong Fair me together with Guave will be hosting 'The Batik Stand, A Stand For Batik'. From 23 May till 2 June you can find us on the Grand Pasar for everything about, on and with Batik. Come stand with us for Batik!

To read & see more:

Post 'Ik ben en blijf een Indisch meisje' on Rory Blokzijl blog

Post on 'Shyama in Boekenland'

On YouTube 'Pascal Jalhay & de Nieuwe Indische Keuken'

On Tong Tong Fair Kooktheater

To buy BaruBelanda 

May 10, 2019

Dior and their new 'African inspired' collection

"Cross-culturalism has been a recurring motif in the work of Chiuri, whose pan-African collection for Valentino for spring/summer 2016 strove to build bridges between Europeans and African refugees following the migrant crisis at the time. “We think every person coming here is an individual, and we can show that we can improve ourselves by understanding other cultures,” 
she said, in 2015. The show, however, met with criticism for its lack of diversity on the runway, arguments fuelled by the cultural appropriation debates that peaked on social media that year. 
But the collection would become a learning curve for both Chiuri and her co-creative director at Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli." 1)

"Dior launches radical collection promoting local African print"
Dior’s new global outlook has certainly been met with criticism along the lines of cultural appropriation, especially as the designs were worn by non-African models. On Instagram, the luxury label shared videos of local artisans making the fabrics, but some questioned the notion of a French label profiting from the craft of another, previously colonial, culture.
However valid the criticism, we approve of any brand promoting transparency in the sourcing and manufacturing of their materials. Moreover, Anne Grosfilley {researcher} maintains, “This collection is not about an idea of an ‘African look’. It’s a celebration of African savoir-faire, and it will be a part of a real African economy.” 2)

"Dior and the Line Between Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation
The French brand holds the first cruise extravaganza in Africa, 
and tries to start a new kind of conversation." 3)

"Wax started in Europe and moved through Asia, then back to Africa. It’s a technique that really went around the world,” Chiuri explained, of the material’s roots. “The collection speaks a lot about craftsmanship travelling around the world. In this moment, there’s a lot of attention to cultural appropriation, but I think we have to explain how craftsmanship travels around the world; why it’s often so difficult to find the ‘real’ reference.”
“A global brand like Dior, which has such an important history, has to move into the future through different points of view and different visions,” she said. “This is a collection but it’s also a conversation with artists about the representation of women, what it means to work in fashion today, and what cultural appropriation means today. It’s an intellectual reflection on fashion today.” 1)

If you read the articles online and hear Dior's designer Maria Grazia Chiuri explain it in the short video on Facebook, you honestly can't find any harm is this lady trying to re-invent fashion by embracing a more inclusive way of making it and collaborating with all sorts of artisans. But if we zoom in on what she chooses to embrace or use, questions starting to build up and I can't help but wonder what exactly is going on in this new Dior collection.
If Dior truly wanted to promote “African culture” and craftsmanship, there were plenty of textiles to choose from. Promoting actual local made textiles, not ‘green washing’ or ‘white washing’ textiles... or in Dior case, how should we call this? 'Africanity washing’, ‘appropriate washing’, ‘history washing’? I mean, why 'Wax Print'?
Dior wants to use their history and does that by basing their Wax Print on their Toile de Jouy design... I mean a motif based on a block-print design with exotic animals in a jungle setting, really? Are we just going to jump over the history of cotton and cotton-printing?
Creating your own textiles is great, and making a wax print, how cool. But this specific textile has such a complex history, which we are only just unravelling.
The researcher and auteur of Wax & Co/ African Wax Print Textiles Anne Grosfilley Dior invited to learn about Wax Print embraces it as a ‘global textile’.
Yes, this is great & true, but it is also, or even more so intertwined with colonial history.
It could be seen as a ‘colonial cloth’. So who are the French, in this case the fashion-brand Dior, to embrace this cloth as a ‘global textile’ and feel free to use it? Shouldn’t the fact that it is a ‘colonial cloth’ maybe weigh heavier in making the choice in who embraces it & why & how?
{Haven't read het book yet, it just got published in English, please comment below if you have and share your thoughts on it}

While reading up on articles published after the grand show in Marrakech Dior made to launch their new Summer collection 2020, I started following the comments on Twitter. The one showing the same video as what I first spotted on Facebook is getting mild comments, where the one with some tailor pictures is being flooded with remarks: "Get to discover more about one of the key through lines of the #DiorCruise 2020 collection: Wax print fabrics, the prestige cloth used for the collection!". The comments mostly go on about how they used 'African print', steal from Africa, and asking what Dior means with the term 'wax print'. People from Southeast Asia mostly comment 'This is Batik'.
What is going on here?
The name 'African Print' is maybe used widely, but Doir isn't incorrect in naming it 'Wax Print'. {They made this 'Wax Print' in collaboration with Uniwax, based in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), part of Vlisco based in Helmond (the Netherlands)}
Wax Print is the name for this technique and therefor these textiles are called 'Wax Print'. It' refers to machine printing of 'wax', which in this case is actually a kind of resin, onto cotton. 'Wax Print' started their history 200 years ago as an imitation batik. They had many names and different techniques that were used before the actual machines were invented by the Dutch. But they all had something in common, they were all made to ship to the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, to compete with actual Batik.
Batik is still being made! And not by machine but by hand! ,
Either with canting ''Batik Tulis, or with cap, Batik Cap. Batik has been the intangible heritage of Indonesia since 2009, but is still under pressure as a craft. The market is filled with printed textiles, cheap imitations and Batikmakers have a hard time getting a fair price for their products, more on that further on in this post.

My concern about all of this is not on who can use what and why, I think it has more to do with why Dior made this collection. What is their idea behind it?
is it because it is just fashionable now?
Or do they want to be part of the “cultural appropriation” discussion and truly in a positive way?
Do they want to make their product more inclusive or is it just copying of popular fashion of the African continent? 
Non of these things get really answered. The framing is vague and has all the right lingo. Yet the word 'Colonialism' is left out completely.
When using products that are linked to, intertwined with, miss-placed by 'Colonialism' or being re-examinded or being re-discovered by diaspora, people really should take a moment, maybe even more then a moment. Maybe it is just not the place nor the time to "do something with it" just yet, maybe other things need to happen first before you can use it as freely as you like.
Using Wax Print is one thing and many European brand already made that mistake/choice. Designing your own Wax Print is really something else and don't get me started on those "glass beads that originated in Venice"...

Why Wax Print is so complex, is being shown greatly and in depth in the 'Wax Print Film’. I recently had the opportunity of finally seeing it myself. Director Aiwan Obinyan was in the Netherlands shortly for another screening and I managed to set one up with the Guave ladies at their studio, our first collaboration, many to come, one soon {read at the end of this post}. In the 'Wax Print Film' Aiwan starts a quest finding out what 'African print' actually is. It led her to an amazing journey, over the world and far into history. 
I still feel so honoured being part of her journey and I think her journey about Wax Print is not finished yet. She has a lot of footage and if I see what is happening now, I think people should offer her a stage and make that stuff into a TV series! It would be so good to explore this in even more depth with even more voices!

Think before you act
Everyone knows it, no one uses it?!

This morning my day started with reading news from Malaysia.* The article 'Join the ‘Wear Malaysian batik’ revolution' not only lightens up the fire of the who has the claim to the heritage of {In 2009 Unesco declared Batik officially the intangible heritage of Indonesia, after Malaysia and Indonesia both wanted it as a national heritage}, but the minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture also states that they are going to promote Batik by encouraging young people to wear printed textiles, what? Wait? How?

"Although machine-printed batik might not be considered actual batik, which is handpainted, it is a start to reach out to the younger generation because it is cheaper and more accessible"

Promoting Printed Textiles can never result in promoting Batik. To promote Batik you should promote handmade Batik. It is that simple. If you promote printed textiles you just promote Fast Fashion! And therefor create an even more difficult position for the makers of the actual textiles... They already have to compete with these printed textiles, why make it even more difficult by promoting these textiles! Please don’t confuse a heritage with Fast Fashion! Promote Batik by actually wearing Batik. Invest in a new generation of Batik by wearing Actual Batik & making it possible for a new generation of Batikmakers to continue their legacy!

During the 61th Tong Tong Fair me together with Guave will be hosting 'The Batik Stand, A Stand For Batik'. From 23 May till 2 June you can find us on the Grand Pasar for everything about, on and with Batik. Come stand with us for Batik!

1) 'SPRING/SUMMER 2020 RESORT Christian Dior' on
2) 'Dior launches radical collection promoting local African print' on
3) 'Dior and the Line Between Cultural Appreciation and Cultural Appropriation' on

To read more on Wax Print:

* I wrote this Monday, but had no time to finetune until now. Meanwhile I had a discussion on the 'Batik print' promotion, were I was called a 'gatekeeper' and that this was the future...Even the claim was made that keeping the technique of Batik alive was not necessary and not sustainable...This breaks my heart & I want to say to all hard working Batikmakers (and all others that keep textile traditions alive) keep up the great work! Batik will never be replaced by some printed substitute, it didn't work in the 19th century, why would we let it happen now!
** I haven't shared images of the Dior collection, because I don't want to support their possible campaign strategy of getting free press through negative press

April 19, 2019

Busy with Batik

Entrance of the exhibition 'The journey to Batik - Day and Night' 
with first my painted 'Pagi-Sore' design from 2010
At Nieuwe Veste in Breda (NL)

Next to my design, the actual Batik, made by KUB Srikandi in 2012

Four new Pagi-Sore Batiks by Kub Srikandi, 2016 - 2018

This Sunday my blog is 10 years old! What a journey it has been, both for me and for Batik.
At first when I started my blog, it was my main way of sharing Batik; the stories, my discoveries, finds and maybe most of all my enthusiasm. The more I learned the more I wanted to know. I never thought that 10 years later I would still be busy with Batik.
And now, not just on my blog, or lately not at all on my blog at all, sorry for that, but in the real world I can share Batik. Last year and this year has been full with wonderful activities in which I could share my love for Batik in so many ways.
Last year, after a long struggle with my health {nothing new there} and reaching maybe the lowest point in my career confidence wise, a shift happend and great things came on my path. Still not all without cloudy days (mostly with clouds made out of greed & disrespect), but with very nice moments and all about Batik! The journey will not be all smooth sailing from here, but I am so happy that after almost 10 years, I finally can share my journey with so many on such different stages.

In October 2018 Cécile Verwaaijen reached out to me if I wanted to join an exhibition at De Nieuwe Veste about Batik. Different activities were being organised in Breda under the name 'Indische winter' {Indo-European Winter}. At the Stedelijk an exhibition was shown about the Indo-European influence on the Dutch popmusic.
During our first meeting I realised it was going to be a solo exhibition and that I was entirely free to fill it in however I wanted to.  I focussed in this exhibition on the phenomenon of 'Pagi-Sore Batiks'. These 'Day and Night Batiks' have a fascinating and tough history. It inspired me to make my own Batik-design in 2010 and I was a great opportunity to finally display the original painting with the Batiks made in 2012 by KUB Srikandi in Jeruk.
Next to my own design, I shared newer 'Pagi-Sore Batiks' also made by KUB Srikandi. Cécile had the great idea of hanging them in the space, so this colourful installation was formed in the heart of the exhibition.

Exhibition Text in Dutch written & designed by me

Batiks by Batikworkshop Gading Kencana 
and photo of Dwi Anggraeni during the 'Tari Batik' at that Batikworkshop in 2016

Batik & photos of batikmaker Nurul Maslahah made/ from 2016

Batik & photos of batikmaker Ibu Rasminah made/from 2016

Next to the Batiks, I shared the story of 'Pagi-Sore Batiks' in a hand-out, exhibition-text and a folder filled with prints from books about these cloths and the making-of my own 'Day and Night Batiks'.
My film 'The journey to Batik - Tari Batik' was shown on a screen and I shared all individual makers featured in it with photos and their own Batik.
The exhibition 'The journey to Batik - Day and Night' was opened on 16 December 2018. During the opening my film was projected in the 'Grote zaal'. I teamed up with Shuen-Li Spirit to give two Batikworkshops and I made a slide-show for the piano piece by Leopold Godowsky called the ‘Java Suite’ performed by Poitr van de Werff, teacher at Nieuwe Veste, during their New Year Concert.

The exhibition, and the collaboration with Cécile on making it, truly was a dream come true. It was so great to get this opportunity in my old hometown and it was so great how many people came. It was just amazing and the great Batik-flow started there hasn't yet slowed down.
It has been a bit quiet on my blog, for those who get my newsletter or follow my website, Instagram or Facebook have been kept better up to date on my activities. I will get it updated here, I promise, so much to share! Unfortunately I can't share everything yet. So what I am doing in all those archives has to be a secret still...
New news I can share however isssss that I am going to be part of this years Tong Tong Fair!!!
I am so exited to tell you that together with the lovely Guave ladies, Romée & Myrthe, we will be hosting 'The Batik Stand, A Stand For Batik'.
From 23 May till 2 June you can find us on the Grand Pasar for everything about, on and with Batik. More info soon on my website, but wanted to share it here first!
Last year, when I visited the Tong Tong Fair I was so sad not finding any Batik Tulis or Cap. And I was so disappointed that some stalls even sold 'Batik Print' as "Authentic", "Indonesian Textile"or "Traditional Batik". I posted about it on Facebook and an interesting & heated discussion started {You can read/see it in my Instagram highlighted stories 'Fake Batik''}. Some didn't get the problem or saw no harm in it, but for most the issue was real. Even Batikmakers from Java joined in! During the discussion the idea was introduced, by Jennifer of TheAiria Batik & Myrthe of Guave, to actually rent a stall & share real Batik within the Tong Tong Fair. Not against, but with the sharing, so we could share what real Batik is & why it is important to promote, support & buy it. Now one year later, we are actually doing it! Sooo great! So hope to see you there!

Thanks for visiting my exhibition  'The journey to Batik - Day and Night'

For more about the exhibition 'The journey to Batik - Day and Night':

- See 'News' on my website

- Watch the interview with Kees van Meel for his ‘Kijk in Kunst’ program for BredaNu {in Dutch}