June 30, 2017

Pattern Edition Batik Statement: Beras Wutah

Summertime is Batik time! I received some nice Batik Statements through Social Media, keep sharing that Batik love! Now time for a third Pattern Edition of my Batik Statements. With this series of 'statements' I try to explain the meaning of a pattern or motif. During my journey on Java last year, I noticed that every dot or line on a Batik has a name. Sometimes the Batik as a whole represents something, but also every individual detail has its own name and meaning. To learn a little more about Batiks and their story I thought it would be nice to capture their meaning in 'Batik Statements'.

Let me introduce: Beras Wutah
When I was making my Batik Buketan carpet for the Museum Batik in Pekalongan, people of the museum were joking it was so nice I even used a famous Batik motif for the background. They were referring to Beras Wutah. 
Beras Wutah gets translated as 'Graines of Rice', or sprinkled and spilled rice. The motif is used as an isen-isen; a background motif or so called filling motif. The traditional pattern looks like actual grains of rice are scattered over the textile.
In Jeruk during my last visit I discovered a new version of this motif. Ibu Maryati started making it bigger, which resulted in a modern looking polkadot kind of pattern. Only thing is that this new interpretation looks very much like the 'Broken Stone' motif, Krecakan, Watu Krecak or Watu Pecah, Lasem is famous for. The difference for me is that the 'Broken Stone' is a more triangle shaped dot and the 'Big grains of Rice' by Ibu Maryati are more oval dots.
And the difference is they told me which were what.

When thinking of how to show this motif, I thought of the Catholic tradition to sprinkle newlyweds with rice when they leave the church. A nice way of explaining this motif to people here. What, wait, why do we throw rice at newlyweds?
When I started googling I got all these things about how we started using rice because it was cheaper than corn...That it came from the Greeks...or ancient Romans...We apparently did copy a lot of Catholic wedding rituals from the Romans, like the veil and being carried over the threshold, but throwing food at the newlyweds is probably not one of them...

Rice is a major food staple and is eaten daily in most places on this planet, especially in Asia. Because its is such an important food source in almost all Asian countries, rice is also used in many rituals. Mostly the rice is put, sprinkled or spilled on the ground to protect or to invite spirits in (Lakshmi Puja), to let babies make their first steps (Tedak Siten) or for the bride to show she is going to bring abundance to her new family. This last one and more wedding related rituals include rice are popular in India and common in Hinduism. During the wedding ceremony rice is used as food, sacrifice, a combination of the two. They are sitting on it, walking on it, throwing it in boiling water, fire and on each other. Also, and here comes the Catholic tradition from, when the groom ties the thali, a kind of necklace, around the brides neck, which is similar to the putting rings on the finger-moment, they get showered by rice.

Rice is food and therefor it is life. Wishing for a good harvest, is wishing for a future. A better harvest equals a better life.
Rituals to honour the Goddess of Rice, which has different names in different countries, are not only just to get more rice. It is asking for a healthy and fruitful life, it is asking for fertility and nowadays also businessmen asking for money.
Using rice as a Batik motif is wishing for the same things. Maybe the big grains of rice are not so subtle, but they are very pretty!

In this Batik Statement I'm wearing a skirt that was custom made for me last year by The Aria Batik. This brand by my friend Jennifer Wanardi sells wonderful Batik Tulis & Cap. From Lasem, Jeruk, Yogyakarta and other places. She is all about supporting pembatiks, learning about the Art of Batik and you can order custom made clothing from amazing Batiks.
The Batik for the skirt and background are both made by Ibu Maryati in Jeruk. The background Batik has a similar motif with a different isen-isen. Koen is wearing a blouse I bought in Lasem with the famous Latohan motif on it, maybe for a next pattern edition more about that one.

Special thanks to Koen for throwing the rice!
Thanks to Jennifer Wanardi & Siti Alkomah for the right Batik motif names!

To celebrate the 5th anniversary of my Batik Statements I'm making a magazine! A magazine with all my 'Batik Statements' from 2012 - 2016. It will be limited edition and only €10,- if you pre-order at sabine{at}sabinebolk.nl !

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