August 30, 2023

Batik & Kebaya at the Tong Tong Fair 2023

This year the Batik Stand is back again at the Tong Tong Fair, the biggest Pasar Malam held in the Netherlands from 31 August till 10 September 2023. 
In the Grand Pasar is you will find us with handmade Batik I brought back from me recent journey & sustainable batik fashion by the brands Guave and Atelier Istimewa.
Atelier Istimewa joined us the previous edition for one day, but this year you will find both brands at the stand every day.

Laurens Tan and I are looking at a Batik during an consultation during TTF 2022 
Photo by Hans Kleijn

Next to the Batik Stand, I will be holding Batik consultations on 2, 3, 5 & 6 September from 15h till 16h. Bring your batiks, max. 3 pieces per person, and lets explore together what more stories they hold. Laurens Tan who was also our guest on the Batik island, will join me on 5 & 6 September for the Batik consultation.

On Sunday 3 September at 18h I will give a talk sharing my journey to batik of the past 14 years. Looking forward to share more on my journey, research and future plans live on stage.
I will share more on my research on batik entrepreneur Carolina Josephina von Franquemont and her 'Prankemon green'.

With the help and expertise of Art Proaño Gaibor of Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed the green (and other dye colours) found in batiks attributed to Von Franquemont could be put under a microscope. Pretty much exactly what we did. With just 2 mm of a thread many different things can be research; what dyes were used, synthetic or natural ingredients, what natural ingredients aka plants were used, traces of wax or oils can be found, metals & carbon traces.Which was also done by photographing the batiks in different light filters. 
The process was long.  In the making since I started my position as a Research Associate at Research Center for Material Culture (RCE) in 2019. To research and re-tell the story on batik entrepreneur Carolina Josephina von Franquemont, it was important to use all tools available to look into the myth & the legend, especially that of ‘Prankemon green’. It took me about 6 months to get approval to actually do the research, then more months passed before the actually samples were taken and then more months of processing the data before the report was done. But now it is officially here: Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867) Prankemon green : research into the chemical composition of organic dyes in 19th century sarongs.

Via the link in bio; you can read a summery of the report & results.

If you cannot make it this Sunday, I recently gave a online talk 'Developments in Batik history in the 19th century, imitations and other influences from abroad'. My talk is in English and gets translated in Burmese during the talk. 


On 7 September me & author Dido Michielsen will launch our project ‘The meaning of the White Kebaya’
The Kebaya is nominated as Unesco intangible heritage from Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to research an interessant type of kebaya, the white one that was a typical type of dress in the former Dutch East Indies. It is never specifically researched in much depth. The white kebaya is in the sarong&kebaya duo a bit of an after thought, and we think it should be spotlighted. 
We are super excited to start this research-retelling-rethinking project. Please share with us any kept white kebaya you might have. Photos of wearers are very welcome also during the kebaya consultation. In the evening we will share more on the project on stage at 20.30h. 
Looking forward hearing your thoughts and ideas on the white kebaya, read our call, oproep, in Dutch here >>> Op zoek naar witte kebaya's

Hope to see you at TTF 2023!

July 10, 2023

50 years Galerie Smend

Opening speech by Rudolf  at the 50 year celebration of Galerie Smend

20 June 2023 we celebrated 50 years of Galerie Smend in Köln (Cologne) in Germany. I was so happy I was invited to both the pre-party on the evening before and for the big celebration on 20 June. The first time I went to the gallery there was an exhibition that went with the publication of the book 'Batik, Traditional Textiles of Indonesia from the Rudolf Smend & Donald Harper Collections' in 2016. The second time was shortly after in 2017 for the launch of Maria Wronska-Friend's book 'Javanese Batik to the world' which was celebrated with a little symposium. In between my last visit and this one, me and Rudolf Smend stayed in touch through email and letter. Rudolf sends me published articles and publications, and I do so in return. It is always lovely to get Batik post from him. In this post more on the celebration at Galerie Smend!

Galerie Smend with tree decorated with batik on 19 June 2023

In a few hours by train I arrived in Köln on 19 June. I first had a lunch date with researcher and fellow Batik fan Rika Tsukano who joined the event all the way from Japan. We met briefly in 2019, but had now more time to chat and share Batik stories. In the afternoon we headed to the gallery.
Galerie Smend and the small Batik Museum are in the same street, Mainzer Straße, a street with old high buildings and a lane with trees in the middle. All the trees in front of the gallery had a batik wrapped around them.
For the 50 year celebrations an exhibition was made with many of the Batik artists that had at one point of time showed their work there. The works of Art were accompanied by framed invites, flyers, posters and letters of when their work was shown at Galerie Smend. A very nice time capsule and what an accomplishment!

Galerie Smend was founded in 1973. After Rudolf Smend around travelled in Asia and fell in love with Batik in Indonesia, he returned to Germany with the idea of selling batik. At that time there wasn't a gallery in Europe specialised in selling batik, new and old. Rudolfs wife, Karin, came with the idea to include selling all materials needed to make batiks like cantings and dyes. Soon the gallery started selling vintage, antique batiks and made exhibitions with modern batik artists from all over the world. 
A great handbook 'Batik Handbuch' published by Galerie Smend in 1980 showcases 136 artists that work with batik, next to many batik tips and tricks.

Page from the Batik Handbuch from 1980

During the pre-opening celebration, Rudolf made a speech in which he showed part of the publications Galerie Smend contributed to. Publications accompanying exhibitions held at their own space, but also many publications they contributed to either by loans from their collection or sharing knowledge. It was so wonderful to gather with all these people who are connected to Galerie Smend somehow; artists, researchers, many collectors, sellers, family and friends. I felt lucky to be there. 

Rudolf Smend showing publications made over the years by Galerie Smend

There are many lovely publications made by Galerie Smend. Here the ones I have at home, shown on top on the batik gift from the 50 year celebration.

From top to bottom; Publication 'Pattern nor painting' by Ada van Hoorebeke (2021), book 'Batik, Traditional Textiles of Indonesia from the Rudolf Smend & Donald Harper Collections' (2016),  'Javanese Batik to the world' by Maria Wronska-Friend open on page with Rudolf Smend (2017), three books by Peter Wenger with 'Indigo' together with Tomoko Kitaoko, the Batik Handbuch (1980) and 'Introduction to Indonesian Batik' by Annegret Haake (2012)

Artists Peter Wenger and Tomoko Kitaoka come to the celebration of course and included their work to the exhibition. I have two lovely publications of Peter, 'Batik Retrospektive' (2006) & 'Out of Ireland (2007)and one of them together, 'Indigo' (2013). Peters work is simple, but full of strength, poetry & humor. I had a wonderful conversation with him in 2017 and he gave me one of the booklet I didn't had yet. It was great to see him and his work again.

Ada Van Hoorebeke checking out Tomoko Kitaoka work with Peter Wenger sitting in the front

Overview of Tomoko Kitaoka work at Galerie Smend

Detail of Peter Wengers work

In 2016 & 2017 I was already impressed by Rudolf Smends old batik collection and he has made some great books showcasing them. In the basement of the gallery yet again were some beauties on display. Three signed by 'L.Metz', a Snow white, a Cinderella and one with herons, one by J.Jans in blue and white, a pastel coloured Eliza van Zuylen and an unsigned batik perang Lombok. What a treat!
The two fairytale batiks are in very bad shape and have been restored creatively. The one with Cinderalla is stitched through out the design following the pattern of the isen-isen and flowers along the edges. In the past this would have been thrown away because it was unsellable, Rudolf said to me, but now people are happy it has been saved. Totally, I am one of them!

Batik Tulis signed by 'L.Metz'
Collection Rudolf Smend

Unsigned batik perang Lombok
Batik Tulis signed by 'L.Metz'
Collection Rudolf Smend

Batik Tulis signed by 'L.Metz' with the fairy tale Snow white
Batik Tulis signed by 'L.Metz'
Collection Rudolf Smend

Small reproduction of batik perang Lombok

Rudolf announced there was a gift for everyone in the gallery space, were I saw in 2017 the work by Catalina Espina. Everyone could pick a batik artwork for a small donation for two charities. There were so many great artworks, many dated 1970's, in bright colours and with bold figures. I took a lot of photos while finding it hard to choose. In the end I went with a small repro of batik perang Lombok the next day. I thought it was so interesting to reproduce it, and because there was such a nice example shown in the basement, I took it as a sign. Still need to explore this batik design further and try to date its origin correctly.

20 June was the official 50 year celebration. Before the celebration started I went into the Batik Museum, I think the only one we have in Europe. It is so cool this exists and nice to explore by myself. Highlight again the black and white photo of Rudolf at Taman Sari following a batik workshop by Pak Hajid. The same place I followed a batik course in 2009. What a small world after all! And of course the showcase with cantings, marvellous! So many different kinds and what rich history!

Few of one of the rooms of the Batik Museum

Black and white photo of Rudolf Smend following the batik course by Pak Hajid

Detail of display of cantings

In between the trees surrounded by batiks on the trees and in peoples clothing, we celebrated with traditional dance from Bali and Betawi (Jakarta), speeches and a rice tabel (rijsttafel). I though this was something you can only still get in the Netherlands, but apparently it is served in Germany too. It was very hot, but with the great food and great company the celebration flew by. It was such a joy to gather and meet so many people, people I know from their books, work or collections. 
Thank you Rudolf and Karin, family and friends, for hosting this wonderful celebration! And congratulations on this meilenstein!

Rika, Ada Van Hoorebeke and me

Me posing with Katharina, long time employee of Galerie Smend, and Rudolfs nephew

Go visit Galerie Smend in Köln if you can, and make sure to visit the Batik Museum too,
 for more info go to

May 31, 2023

Hope is the thing with feathers*

While I am working behind the scenes, or mostly screen, on many projects, I cannot share much on it yet. But I did wanted to share a couple of things, not just on my work, but also on some things I visited, watched and joined. Although they are diverse, they have a common denominator, or focus point; The Wearer. I gravitate more towards it since my research projects are very focussed on the wearer(s), but I also feel there is more focus on it and interest in it!

Book 'The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes by Kate Strasdin

In March I joined an online talks by the Fashion + Textile Museum titled 'Secrets From a Victorian Woman’s Wardrobe'. Fascinated by the title already. It was really wonderful to hear and see more on the research done to make the book 'The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes' by Kate Strasdin. This talk is no longer online, but luckily Kate does many talks, including a two part episode for the podcast 'Dressed, The History of Fashion'. A podcast I can highly recommend, I listen already so many episodes, great background info, very divers; historical dress, famous wearers including Queen Sirikit and even protest wear. But back to Kate, and Mrs Anne Sykes. After being gifted an anonymous sample book, Kate started transcribing the limited handwritten information it contained, finding not only the maker of the sample book, but the wearer and many of the other wearers. The samples bring us from the mills of Lancashire to the port of Singapore. An amazing and fascinating discovery! I haven't yet get myself a copy of the book, since I have must reading work that has to be done, but I highly recommended as your read for the Summer! For now, check out some of the textile samples here '16 stunning Victorian textiles from The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes'.

One of the wearers who samples were collected by Anne Sykes: Mrs Seddon is another person whose name proved untraceable but whose wardrobe leaps from the page. Hers was especially bright, including a zig zag printed gauze that is almost psychedelic.

Cees de Jonge photographing one of the 50+ batiks at Museum Sophiahof

At the end of March I was able to document 50+ batiks at Museum Sophiahof. All the Batiks are privately owned, not as collectors, but passed on within families. So of most we know who wore them. I met the owners through the different Batik consultations I did over the past 4 years, and thought the time is right to finally document all these beauties & their stories. Some will be included in upcoming projects I am doing, others hopefully soon too. It was amazing to get this photoshoot day organised. The owners who brought their batiks, some only 2 pieces, some 10, waited patiently for me & Cees de Jonge to get them photographed. My poor knees hurt days after, but I am so so so glad these kept important pieces of history are now documented in high res, ready to be shared and researched further. Thanks Yullia & Het Indisch Herinneringscentrum!

The Dress at Museum Kaap Skil in May 2016

The Dress at Museum Kaap Skil in April 2023, photo by Koen de Wit

When in 2016 the news came out about a spectacular textile find, I made a blogpost about it right away: 'Such wonderful news today, I have been captivated by it all day. It sounds like a treasure hunt, the researches themselves say it is like finding something in a hidden room, but it is even better.
In August 2014 divers found textile near a known ship wreck in the Wadden Sea near Texel in The Netherlands. Among the textile finds are a near perfect silk dress, an embroidered etui and never worn stockings. The spectacular news of the find was kept secret till now, so researches had time to explore and make sure what the find was. It now turns out that the ship wreck is dated to be built around 1600. The ship is made of boxwood and by using the tree rings they are pretty sure about this dating. Among the finds is a Jacobs staff, a tool for navigation, with the date '1636' written on it. So these clothing found by the divers are from beginning of the 17th century. That means they were laying on the bottom of the sea for 400 years. One of the divers says in a clip online: "Normally you only read history and now we added something to it"'
To read to full blogpost, go to 'Firm Lady'.
The found sea treasures were on display for one month, before they moved back from Texel to the main land for further research and time to solve important conservation issues. In May of 2016 we went to the Museum Kaap Skil to see The Dress and the other objects. While the dress was impressive then, it was even more impressive 7 years later. 
The Dress and the other objects returned after much research, problems with the divers, who didn't give all the objects right away as was promised, and more research on how to display the objects safely. In a three part docu series 'De jurk en het scheepswrak' {The Dress and the shipwreck} all this leading up towards the final opening at the Museum Kaap Skil is wonderfully shown. It also provides more insights on who the owner, or better wearer of the objects might have been. Only women clothing were found and many objects, like a mirror with comb, suggest it was either going to be a gift, or the wearer was onboard. However due to how it was brought to the surface and since the shipwreck has not been further salvaged, much remains a mystery. So in the permanent exhibition at Kaapskil not much info is shared. Some short videos from different researchers, but no in-depth info. Partly because it is not there and partly I guess to keep it open for later finds. 
Our first holiday of this year, we went camping on Texel so we could go see the dress again. The museum made a special exhibition space to showcase the shipwreck objects, but also updated their other permanent exhibition in which they highlight seafinds according to the different continents with much room for colonial history - really greatly done. 
A must visit, both will be on display for a long time, that is if the special build oxygen free display of The Dress does its work correctly, so go and see!

'Wearing Batik is showing who you are', Wereldverhaal/worldstory for NMvW by me

During our camping trip, my two world stories on Batik got published. One focusses on the making: Worldwide loved and worn but how is Batik made with many photos by me on the making process, next to great images & batiks from the Nationaal Museum voor Wereldculturen/Wereldmuseum. And the other part is on the wearer of Batik; Wearing Batik is showing who you are. Both are in Dutch, but I included many wonderful images, so go check it out!

On the 3 of May I was invited to share on the development of Batik in the 19th century during the webinar on Batik organised by Museum Het Schip. You can watch it back here. Next to the development of Batik, I share also a little bit on the wearers and what stories, even sometimes different historical facts these wearers give us. Watch it back here

For more online content, I want to recommend 'Front and (Off-)Centre: Fashion and Southeast Asia'. I didn't have time to send something in myself, don't know if I would have made it in the program, but there were so many great talks. Spread over two days, 5 & 6 May, Southeast Asian fashion was discussed from a historical point of view, from a more recent past and a longer time ago, zoomed in on modern developments in fashion and there was even room for sustainability activism. It was wonderful to see such a divers group of {new) researchers from Southeast Asia reflecting themselves on Southeast Asian Fashion. A go watch, you find all the recordings here 'Front and (Off-)Centre: Fashion and Southeast Asia'.

Slide from the talk 'Kebaya: The Intersection of Past and Future' by Toton Januar H.N.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) might not be the first that comes to mind when thinking of a wearer. The unknown poet that stayed at home the last 20 years of her life, who collected bird nests and only wore white. After seeing the stunning series Dickinson I must say I am a little obsessed, not just with the series itself, which is a must see and yes I am late to the party, since it ended in 2021. 
In Dickinson we get to know Emily, her family and friends, some famous writers from that time like Henry David Thoreau of the book 'Walden' and Louisa May Alcott of the book 'Little Women', but also their employee in the house and their seamstress Betty. The pretty unknown reality of Emily's life leaves much room for interpretation and there is a very modern twist to the series. However the era and ongoing historical events are portrayed well and clever with always Emily's poems as a main storyline connecting it all. 
I think why I am so obsessed by it, is because it takes place in a time period I am stuck in a lot with my own research. Von Franquemont lived from 1817 till 1867 and the makers and wearers I am researching now are on Java between 1850 -1900. I also really loved the clothing shown in the series. The story takes places before Emily stopped leaving the house, so we get to see house dresses, party dresses and loads of other beautifully made garments. I am not an expert in historical garments at all, but the whole eye for detail is great. 
When we reached the end of the series, it broke my heart a little and spend some time reading more online. I came across an interesting wearer related find. A photograph, a Daguerreotype, was revealed to be the second known portrait (not yet confirmed) of Emily Dickinson. Not new news, since the finding was shared in 2012, but what was striking to me is that a kept fabric sample at Emily Dickinson Museum is believed to match with what Emily is wearing on the photo. Read the full article here A New Dickinson Daguerreotype?

Hailee Steinfeld stars as the poet Emily Dickinson. Photo: Apple

A joint search by Archives and Museum staff members in the Emily Dickinson Museum's textile collection on April 20, 2010, led to the discovery of at least one fabric sample in a blue check that is a candidate for the dress Dickinson wears. 

* Title for this post from Emily Dickinson poem '“Hope” is the thing with feathers'

April 21, 2023

Batik Statement Essay

To keep up with traditions, I post today on my blog to celebrate my 14 years journey to Batik. Normally I share a Batik Statement in the form of a photo or photoseries. I did of course share photos on social media for this celebration. But for here I though I share a writing I did last Summer, that until today didn't get published. So might as well share it here. A Batik Statement in essay form, a first!

I would like to thank everyone who joined me, supported me & guided me on this journey to Batik. I hope I can learn, study and enjoy Batik for many more years to come. I would like to thank the pembatiks, those of the past and present for keeping this amazing legacy alive, terima kasih banyak/Matur nuwun!

Selamat membaca, have a wonderful Hari Kartini! Selamat Idul fitri and thank you for visiting my blog today!

Label on batik that was attributed to Von Franquemont
WM-27272, collection Wereldmuseum Rotterdam

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

In my research project ‘Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European (2) influence on Batik’, the goal is to re-tell the history of (Indo-)European influence on Batik between 1850 and 1890. I chose this timeframe, because according to literature (1) this is when a European influence became visible in Batik designs. In my research I work with re-telling in words and images to give answers to the following question: How was Batik influenced by Europe? 

Von Franquemont as a starting point

My research starting point is Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867). 
Von Franquemont is a well-known name within the Batik community. In literature (1) it is written that she was the first Indo-European to run a Batik workshop around 1850 on Java, Indonesia. That she was locally known under the name ‘Prankemon’ and famous for her use of a green dye.
Several Batiks from collections worldwide are attributed to Von Franquemont, attributed as in thought to be made by her or made in her Batik workshop. Von Franquemont did not sign her Batiks and almost all attributions were made decades after her death in 1867.
To re-tell the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik, I use the story about, and Batiks attributed to Carolina Josephina von Franquemont as a starting point. I started mapping out what is actually the Dutch, European and Indo-European influence on Javanese Batik. How is it described in literature1, what sources are there, who wrote what, when and why?
Indo-European influence is usually linked to Carolina Josephina von Franquemont. But can this influence truly be traced back to one individual? What other factors have had a role in this development? 

European interest in Batik

In the 19th century the interest for Batik in Europe grew. Museums started buying Batiks, Batiks were shown during Colonial Exhibitions and people, mostly white Dutch men, started researching Batik. 
The first to write about Carolina Josephina von Franquemont was Gerret Pieter Rouffaer (1860-1928). In his book ‘De Batik-kunst van Nederlandsch-Indië en haar geschiedenis’ published in 1914 Rouffaer writes in more detail about Von Franquemont. This book is still seen today as an important source for information on Batik. His writing on, and the Batiks he attributed to Von Franquemont, start a century long fascination for Von Franquemont.
Other researchers and conservators such as Tropenmuseum conservators Johanna Pape-van Steenacker (1901-1978), Rita Bolland (1919-2006), Itie van Hout and Daan van Dartel have added to this information over time. In the book ‘Splendid symbols, Textiles and traditions from Indonesia’ by Dr. Mattiebelle Gittinger, published in 1979 Von Franquemonts alleged death is described for the first time. “The secrets of this dye (…) perished with the woman herself in an earthquake in June 1867”.  
Over time the earthquake turned into a volcanic eruption, and this version of the story about her death has been repeated till today.

When I started my research the first thing I started looking for was information on her death and the possible location of her Batikworkshop. On a blog about Indo-European family trees, a newspaper message was shared. The author of the blog, Roel de Neve, did not realise what Batik history he had uncovered; “Today, after a long sickbed, Miss C. J. Von Franquemont, our beloved sister, passed away”. The obituary, sent in by her brother, confirmed Von Franquemont was not swept away by an earthquake, nor by a Volcanic eruption, but that she had passed away after a long sickbed. For Modemuze I wrote a post about this with the title ‘Verzwolgen en verdwenen: de batik erfenis van Franquemont’. This blogpost marked the start of my ongoing research. 

Batik Belanda

In 1993 the book ‘Batik Belanda’ by Harmen Veldhuisen (1943-2020) was published. In his book he describes a specific style within Batik which was according, to Veldhuisen, made by and for European and Indo-European women in the former Dutch East Indies. Von Franquemont is put in the book as the starter of this trend as the so-called ‘Mother of Batik Belanda’.
I got fascinated by this history. In Europe we almost always mention these ‘Indo-European Batiks’ first, while this history is often just a footnote in Indonesia and most Batikmakers never even heard of it. The book ‘Batik Belanda’ was published also in Bahasa Indonesia. For most Indonesians the book is the first time they learn about these European influenced Batiks. A large part of the Veldhuisen Batik collection ended up in the Tropenmuseum, the other part went to Danar Hadi, the private Batikmuseum in Solo on Java. A special room in the museum is dedicated to ‘Batik Belanda’. 
Veldhuisen coined the term ‘Batik Belanda’, but actually this term for Batiks was not use in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
The growing interest in Europe for Batik in the 19th century, was not just because they thought it was beautiful, they thought Batik was an interesting business opportunity. When Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) described the Batik technique in his book ‘The History of Java’, published in 1817, Raffles did this because he thought it would be a good idea to make imitations. These imitations would be made in England and then shipped to Asia to be sold there. Other cotton-printing compagnies in Europe started making these fake Batiks as well and shipped them to SouthEast Asia. 
From the 1850’s onwards imitation Batiks were made in the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and England. These imitations from Europe or fake Batik, became known as Batik Belanda.
The imitation Batiks were made partly by machines and partly by hand. The machines had copper rolls that would print a motif on the cloth using a kind of resin. The blue was dyed in a colour bath and other colours were added with block printing.
In response to these cheaper fake Batiks, the Batik Cap industry on Java grew throughout the mid-19th century. Batik Cap was faster to produce than Batik Tulis. It was therefor also cheaper.

Batik Cap was great for competing with the imitations from Europe. The imitations were cheap, but people on Java preferred real Batik. They would buy Batik Cap, or save money to buy Batik Tulis. The European cotton-printers were baffled that their cheap mass produced imitations would not sell. It was actually the earliest form of fast fashion and it was not very successful.
Samuel Cornelis Jan Willem van Musschenbroek (1827-1883) writes in 1878 about imitations the following: “But, keep in mind, always as imitation (Batik tiron), or Batik welondå, Dutch Batik, a Batik ‘of its own kind’. Never did Javanese people see the imitation for (real) Javanese Batik”
For the platform Things That Talk run by research associate Fresco Sam-Sin, I made a page, a zone, within the website to share more on one of the Dutch cotton-printing compagnies, De Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij LKM). In the zone ‘Fabric(s) of Leiden’ students unravel the stories behind objects from collections  like the Museum Volkenkunde and Wereldmuseum to uncover the history and legacy of the LKM.


Next to literature (1) research, I started working out the provenance of all Batiks attributed, at one point in time, to Von Franquemont within the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (NMvW) and the Wereldmuseum.
In this process I found pieces that were attributed to her, but were never used in publications, also some had not been photographed yet or only had partial pictures. So new photos were taken for the NMvW Museum System (TMS) database of all Batiks I looked at.
An essay on the Provenance of the Prankemon sarongs while be published later this year, hopefully in June, in the publication Provenance #4 by NMvW/Wereldmuseum
With all the research I did on Batiks attributed to Von Franquemont, I noticed how important it is to know the wearer. Batiks in museum collections have often limited provenance, especially if it is bought from a collector. Not always is written down if the person who donated the Batiks actually wore the Batiks themselves, but the family tree can sometimes provide some insights on to whom the Batiks belonged. If a family member did live in the former Dutch East Indies, it could be that the Batiks might have been worn by them. So with little information you can sometimes still find out a lot. Extensive collections have been kept in the Netherlands, privately and in museum-collections. These kept Batik-collections can give us new interesting insights and different angles on how to share this history.
Already from looking at a Batik you can often tell if it was worn or not. Many of the pieces in the Dutch collections were specifically collected for the museum and thus were never worn. 
So I always get extra excited if a piece has been worn, because worn pieces can tell us more than the unworn ones. Markers for Batiks being worn are that the sarongs are sown together or were sown together, have a faded colour and sometimes even mended parts.
During The Association of Dress Historians Annual New Research Conference 2022 I shared my current research that is focussed more on the wearer, especially on ladies that were of European descent, who dressed in Batik sarongs themselves, during colonial times in Indonesia. For this presentation I focussed on 41 Batiks from the Tropenmuseum collection, TM-2899-1 - TM-2899-41, that were donated by Jonkvrouwe Anna Cecile Aurélie Jeanne Clifford (1884-1960), Jonkvrouwe as in damsel. Hence the title ‘A Batik collection fit for a Lady’. Daan van Dartel, my research advisor & Curator of Fashion at the Tropenmuseum already published on Lily, as she was called for short, in the booklet ‘Collectors Collected’. 
Lily’s donation is an unusual wardrobe for a lady whom apparently had never been to Indonesia herself. The Batiks most likely belonged to her mother, Theodora Adriana Lammers van Toorenburg, who was born in 1852 in the former Dutch East Indies. This collection provides us with interesting insights into what was worn by whom and how the wearer can provide us with provenance that is often overlooked in Batik-research. 
I will turn this presentation into an article for The journal of Dress History.  In Dutch a shorter article by me about this was already published in the magazine Batik

Prankemon Green

Next to the provenance, I am working on an analysis of the dyes used in the Von Franquemont Batiks. According to Rouffaer she was famous for her natural and colourfast green. However the Batiks have never been examined to determine what specific dye was actually used.
Together with Art Proaño Gaibor of Rijksdienst van Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) we made a plan to examine the dyes. Nowadays with a very small sample research can be done on the type of dye, natural or synthetic, what materials were used to recreate the dye or if mordants were used. 
I selected 5 Batiks that had the best provenance. Not that we know for certain these were made by Von Franquemont, this cannot be said of any Batiks I looked at. But these 5 Batiks had a clear date of entering the collection and from which person the donation came. From 5 Batiks we took samples of each colour. A sample is just 2 mm of one thread. As a little premiere I can share that all dyes in the 5 Batiks are made from natural materials. Although all 5 Batiks were attributed to Von Franquemont at one point in time, all 5 are dyed differently, which tells us that they seem to be from 5 different workshops. We are working out the differences between the dyes in a report that will be publicly available soon.

Future of Batik

When it comes down to re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik there is still much to explore.
For the current display showing Batiks with an ‘Indo-European influence’ at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam that opened in 2020, I advised for the selection of Batiks. I also wrote a three part article on these Batiks for the magazine ‘Tribale Kunst’. It was later published in a shorter English version in the Textile Asia Journal.
If I look at this display now, I think we might show Batiks from the past differently in the future. All these Batiks have an interesting story to tell, but by grouping them in this way, we loose part of the story, specifically the Asian side of the story. The focus is now often on facts that cannot be checked nor proven, while the new uncovered data isn’t used, yet. I hope that my re-telling of this history provides us with more interesting, but above all more correct, layered stories.

Detail of Batik bedcover donated by a niece of Von Franquemont
WM-26938, collection Wereldmuseum Rotterdam

1) Literature examples in which Carolina Josephina von Franquemont is mentioned, aside from the books mentioned in this blogpost:

‘Batikken’ in the Encyclopedie van Nederlandsch-Indië (1917) Gerret Pieter Rouffaer

‘Das Batiken, eine Blüte indonesischen Kunstlebens’ (1926) J.A. Loebèr

‘Batiks from Java, The refined beauty of an ancient Craft’ (1960) Rita Bolland, Dr. J. H. Jager Gerlings and L. Langewis, Tropenmuseum

Catalog ‘Fabric of Enchantment, batik from the North coast of Java’ (1997) Inger McCabe Elliot, Rens Heringa and Harmen Veldhuisen, LACMA

‘Building on Batik: The Globalization of a Craft Community’ (2000) Michael Hitchcock

‘Batik, Drawn in wax, 200 years of batik art from Indonesia in the Tropenmuseum collection’ (2001), Itie van Hout, KIT Publishers

‘Batik: Design, Style & History’ (2004) Fiona Kerlogue

‘Batik Design’ (2004) Pepin van Roojen

‘Glory of Batik, The Danar Hadi Collection’ (2011) J. Achjadi

Catalog ‘Batik Pesisir, An Indonesian Heritage, Collection of Hartono Sumarsono’ (2012) Helen Ishwara

‘Batik: From the Courts of Java and Sumatra’ (2014) Rudolf Smend

Catalog ‘Asian art and Dutch taste’ (2014) Jan Veenendaal, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Catalog ‘Sarong Kebaya, Peranakan Fashion in an interconnected World, 1500-1950’ (2015), Peter Lee, ACM

Catalog 'A Royal Treasure, the Javanese Batik collection of King Chulalongkorn of Siam' (2019) Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in Bangkok, Thailand

Catalog ‘Batik, Traces through time, Batik collections in the National Museum’ (2021) Fiona Kerlogue, National Museum, Prague, Czech republic

2) Indo, from Indo-European, is written between brackets in my research title because the influence is not always Indo-European, but more often directly European. To include both, Indo-European and European in my title, I choose to write it as ‘(Indo-)European’

Sabine Bolk, artist & Batik researcher. Blogger for the blog ’The journey to Batik’ and Modemuze. Research Associate at the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden from 2019-2021. Currently working on new research with the focus on the wearer.

March 29, 2023

Batik related Museumtips

My Museumcard with Batik Statement selfie

A post to highlight some exhibitions, because it was on my planning already and it is Museumweek starting this weekend. 
From 1 till 7 April it is Museumweek in the Netherlands. An this time they have a great action, people can go with borrowed Museumcards to museums. Normally the museumcard is person-specific with your name & photo on it, but for this week you CAN go with a card borrowed from someone. A lovely action, and if you want to lend my card, please leave a comment or send me an email. I will not have time to use it myself next week.

My reel in the exhibition 'Continue This Thread'

I first have to give as a tip an exhibition I am part of, ‘Continue This Thread’ at Amsterdam Museum. The exhibition is made by curator Roberto Luis Martins together with designers Karim Adduchi & Tess van Zalinge. The exhibition shows current designs with depot treasures, it highlights the act of mending and the passing on of crafts. It is a great show, a reward after the pandemic as you will, since it features projects that started in that time. 
Some of the works by Karim Adduchi are presented that I only knew from photos when I wrote the Modemuze post 'Ver­bin­den op af­stand: hoe mode daar­op in­speelt'. Like the Social [Distancing] Fabric Project. It is now beautifully displayed in one of rooms and it was for me extra special to see it after reading and writing about it. 
The exhibition has a room on the platform Modemuze. Here I am featured with a reel. The reel I made after visiting the batikworkshop Kamis Batik in Terengganu, Malaysia. It is just one of the videos, but like we say in Brabant “wie het kleine niet eert is het grote niet weerd” {if you do not honor the small, you are not worthy of the great}.  I am very proud to be featured in this lovely exhibition that gives the power of craft a stage. 
Go see Continue This Thread ~ it runs till 3 September, Amstel 51 location, in Amsterdam.
When you are at the museum, do visit the exhibition 'De Maasdamme collectie'. This collection of dioramas by Rita Maasdamme (1944–2016) tells about the histories of the former Dutch colonies from the unique perspective of enslaved people, Maroons, and the Indigenous population.

In other news; Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal & Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden will all change their names into 'Wereldmuseum', so World museum. A much easier and more open name than Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen. The official name change will take place after the Summer.

Batiks in Kruispunt Rotterdam 
at Wereldmuseum

In September 2020 the semi-permanent exhibition Kruispunt Rotterdam opened at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. I worked behind the scenes with curator Francine Brinkgreve for the selection of Batiks and change some of the information, because it had wrong dates and attributions. Unfortunately the edits didn't make it into the exhibition. It was said they would be changed, but until this day the old version of the information signs are in the display. Although this is frustrating, the batiks that are on display are wonderful. There is also an interactive display in which you can make a digital batik and other amazing textiles and objects.

Info with Nutmeg Batik in Tropenmuseum

In May 2020 I posted a blog 'What to do with the Nutmeg Batiks?' because I knew it was selected for the new semi-permanent exhibition at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. I was worried my provenance research would not be used, nor any new research would be done on this Batik. 
In June 2022 I was invited for the exhibition Our Colonial Inheritance. It was pretty busy, so the only thing I did was look for the batiks that were on display. My worries became reality. Not only was the batik attributed to Carolina Josephina von Franquemont, it also states this Nutmeg design was made for European women. Since there are hardly any Batiks with a nutmeg design known, it is a bold & painful claim considering the history of the nutmeg. Should we not be sure before putting it as facts in the description? Attribution is such a vage term. It is simply put that it is believed to be made by a certain person. However who believes it and on what grounds make if an attribution is believable. However it is not common to mention this, why not? Would it not make sense to add this information, to add the claimer as a disclaimer? Anyway, in a few months my final reports on my provenance and colour research will be finished & published (fingers crossed). I hope this will provide some more insights & disclaimers.

Batik objects at Stedelijk Amsterdam

For more Batik in the Netherlands, I have the following visit tips, also in Amsterdam. 
First 'Yesterday Today’ showing the Stedelijk Museum collection until 1950. In this exhibition is a room on Indonesian influence featuring Batik made in the Netherlands. It has a great big cabinet decorated with motifs using batik on wood designed by Louis Bogtman. A name I didn't knew before a student reached out to me about his work last Summer. There are also other objects by other makers. Several smaller pieces in a display case, a chair and a folding screen. Lovely pieces and you can easily combine a visit here to another exhibition in Amsterdam.
At Museum het Schip is until 27 August an exhibition on the relationship between the former Dutch East Indies and the Amsterdam School movement. In this exhibition again lovely pieces by Bogtman among others. 

Clock and batik cloth designed by Louis Bogtman 
at Museum Het Schip

I am also invited by Museum Het Schip to give a talk. In their Webinar series, Museum het Schip joins forces with Heritage hands-on, Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur, and Yayasan Museum Arsitektur Indonesia to explore these relations by inviting heritage experts, historians, architects, curators, and artists.
The Webinar on Wednesday 3 May {Netherlands (CEST): 14.00 - 16.00 hours / Indonesia (WIB): 19.00 - 21.00 hours } is about the application of batik in Indonesia as a heritage practice and its application in the late-colonial period by Dutch artists, including those of the Amsterdam School movement. How do the Dutch and Indonesians nowadays look upon the debate on artistic freedom versus the appropriation of a visual language and techniques from another culture? 
Hope to see you there!

Last minute tip, de exhibition 'Nijkerk en Nederlands-Indië' at Museum Nijkerk, runs till end of April. Not open on Sundays, so I haven't been able to go yet. But there is also a talk with the curator online who tells more about the research behind the exhibition and it continuation. 

And future tip, end of the year the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam will open their Indonesia exhibition. When I know more, I will update of course.

Photographer Cees de Jonge making a picture 
of a book in the library of Textielmuseum

For a reading tip, with the museumcard you also have entrance to the library of the Textielmuseum on weekdays. They have many books on Batik. It use to be my go-to-place in my early blogger years to study about Batik. For an upcoming story I am writing for Things That Talk we recently did a photoshoot of the objects in the library. It is not only a rich collection, it is also in a very nice library. Online you can browse the titles they have and they are always happy to help. So go & read!

And for a more active Batik experience. On Saturday 3 June I will give another workshop at De Katoendrukkerij in Amersfoort. For more info go to

Thats all tips for now - If there are any batik related exhibitions, can be outside of the Netherlands too that you like to tip, please leave a comment. 

Feedback/reviews on visits you made after reading the tips in my blog are also welcome.

Enjoy your museum visits!

January 19, 2023

Selamat membaca*

Enjoy reading/ Veel leesplezier!

Books 'Misleiden' by Fresco Sam-Sin (2022), 'Studies in Textiel, Leidse Weefsels' 
with article by Jantiene van Elk (2022), 
'De Voormoeders' by Suze Zijlstra (2021) and 'Engel en Kinnari' by Dido Michielsen (2022)

People often ask me: When are you publishing a book? Yes! There are some plans in the making for a publication, but I also learned this last year, you don’t have to write a book to be in one. 
My research made it into several publications, not only with articles by myself, but in other peoples research, in the footnotes and even inspired the title of a novel. 
As a booklover I welcome every excuse to add more books to my collection. Finding my name in a thank you by the author (thank you Suze Zijlstra & Dido Michielsen!) and sources list is just amazing. 
As a creator it is great to find out that what you put out there continues, grows further and can inspire more people to wonder, ask questions and dive into it further! 
In this blogpost some recent publications which includes research by yours truly. Selamat membaca!

In October 2022 the new book 'Engel en Kinnari' by Dido Michielsen was published. When her first novel 'Lichter dan ik' came out, I contacted her to talk about the role Batik played in her book for the online webseries Batik Consultation. We stayed in touch, hoping we could work together on a project on the Batiks she owns. Her book 'Lichter dan ik' got made into a theaterplay in which the actors wore custom made outfits by Guave from Batik Lasem bought by me. The book got translated in Bahasa Indonesia with the title 'Lebih putih dariku'. 
When Dido started writing her latest book, the follow-up on 'Lichter dan ik', I shared some of my research with her on the batik industry in Pekalongan and imitation batik around 1900. In my article on the collection of Dr. Elie van Rijckevorsel kept at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, I share about a batik that has angels (engel) on it, but that very well can be kinnari's, a half bird half human Hindu god. When Dido shared with me her suggested cover, I couldn't believe my eyes. In big letters it said 'Engel en Kinnari' on top of a photo of her mother and grandmother. I never thought my research would ever inspire parts in a book, let alone the actual title, amazing!

Page on Fake batik from the book 'Misleiden'

In April 2022 the book 'Misleiden' was published as a catalog of the exhibition with the same title (Misleading) that was held at De Lakenhal in Leiden. Things That Talk Fresco Sam-Sin curated the exhibition and wrote most of the book, apart from some short articles by researcher. In the book all the misleading objects from different collection in Leiden come together to share the story on deceiving, misguiding and deluding. My research on imitation batiks, or as I prefer fake batik fit right in there.  
In the book you can read about the fake batiks made by, in this case, De Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij (LKM). On Things That Talk you can read more about this also in my zone 'Fabric(s) of Leiden' in both Dutch and English. Cees de Jonge made great photos of my selected objects, two samplebooks and letters, that illustrate the book and the website of Thing Thats Talk very nicely!

Photographer Cees de Jonge making a picture of the 'Fabricage' book of L.A. Driessen 
in the library of the Textielmuseum in Tilburg

Jantiene van Elk of the library of the Textielmuseum in Tilburg reached out to me about the talk she would give about the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij during the yearly Spring symposium of the Textielcommissie in April 2022. Unfortunately the timetable didn't allow us to do a duo talk and I eventually couldn't go to the day also. 
For the publication of the Textielcommissie 'Studies in Textiel' Jantiene made an article based on her talk 'De familie Driessen en de Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij, Reizen in de negentiende eeuw' and in it she refers to my research for Things That Talk (see also the previous book). So lovely! 
We are continuing with this interesting history of LKM and the Driessen family. For upcoming Thing That Talk stories me and Cees de Jonge went last week to the library to make photos of some related objects, so soon more online about that! And hopefully more, to be continued!

Article by Maarten Fornerod on 'the man in the batik pants'
in the January issue of Moesson 

Hot of the press, not a book, but never the less fitting in this blog. In this months Moesson the theme is Boekoe (Buku = books) and unrelated to the theme a part of my research made it into this number. During the Tong Tong Fair I reached out to Pasar Malam college Maarten Fornerod. Maarten is our Dutch expert for Indo-European and Dutch East Indies genealogy. Since I was wondering about a certain someone I found in photos in my research, I asked him to take a look. I found this man, always with moustache and in the exhibition in batikpants, in three photoalbums kept at the Tropenmuseum, but wasn't able to find his name. Already the same day, I believe, Maarten had found him. This story and discovery is shared in a nice article by Maarten himself, Jing Jing Detektif, in this month Moesson. 

The best wishes for 2023! Have a good year of the Rabbit!