August 23, 2011

Museum Nusantara in Delft

Entrance Museum Nusantara

In the previous blogpost I told about my quest in Delft. A long time I wanted to visit the Museum Nusantara. The museum shows the history and the cultures of Indonesia and the 400 year old relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia. The museum was founded by "Indische instelling" (1864 - 1900) in Delft.

So I started my day in Delft. The museum is on a beautiful location in the center of the city, right next to Museum Het Prinsenhof (former residence of Prince William of Orange)
On Saturdays between 11am and 1pm the 200-year-old Javanese Gamelan is played in the museum!

The exhibition "Between Heaven and Earth" shows the highlights from the collection in two different themes. The first theme is the Javanese court culture of which the krisses (see pictures below) and Gamelan are a part.

The second theme "Images of Magic" shows the spiritual life of the previously isolated island of Indonesia. The rich cultures following the important (unwritten) life rules of the adat in which Ancestor worshipping plays a big part.

Ceramonial kris. The pendok or sheath of silver is shaped like the demon Kala, who as the story goes, stops the impact of snakes and blows.

Handle of ivory, Kris of the type Jawa Demam, showing an human like figure with jewelry around the neck and ankles shaped like snakes or naga's

Wayang Golek

Wayang Kulit

Everytime I visit a museum I'm always surprised by some information I didn't know but I should have known. Like the lovely bridal couple on the picture.
On Java you'll find these figurines everywhere. In special rooms, in every important building, but also in almost every house and in all the gift shops. I asked in Indonesia who they are, but they didn't know or told me that it was the sultan with his wife. This is the younger generation I'm talking about. I had a couple in my hand in one of the big gift shops in Yogyakarta, but didn't buy them, because I wasn't sure who they represented or what they represented. Sometimes "Good luck" isn't enough.

If I knew about this then, I think I would have bought more than one. It's Dewi Sri and her Sadono. (or Sedana). I was so surprised, how couldn't I have known. She's my favorite Goddess!
The figurines are called "Loro Blonyo", meaning two becomes one. They stand for fertility and prosperity.The figurines normally are placed in front of the wedding bed, Kobongan. In Surakarta (now Solo) the use of these figurines was reserved for royalty.
In the bridal room also pots for cooking rice are placed under the bed. In many legends they tell the story about Dewi Sri, the Goddess of rice and how she and her brother (also called Dewi Sedana) were the bringers of prosperity (in the form of Rice) and were the protectors for the farmers (in one story they change in a Burung Walet (Swallow) and a Ular Sawah (Sawa snake) to protect the rice plants from being eaten by insects and rats).
I still don't know why her groom is also her brother. There are many different stories about Dewi Sri, the origin of Rice. And the role of her lover or brother in these stories are different every time. Maybe the translation sometimes change their relationship, or it's more about the strong connection between two persons. Maybe the term brother or groom isn't the right word, but comes closest to the divine connection Dewi Sri and Dewi Sedana have.

I bought this wonderful book about Dewi Sri in the gift shop at Museum Nusantara. It's by Ruud Greve and tells all about the stories, legends and rituals around the Goddess of Rice. So more where that came from next time!

In 2009 the museum ordered this Wayang group at the Wayang puppet maker Ki Ledjar Subroto. It tells the story about the murder of Willem Of Orange. East meeting West on a very special way.


Nusantara owns a big collection of Ikats from Sumba. They are beautiful displayed (but it's very dark, for the safety of the fabrics, so difficult the photograph) and they have new & older ones. Below some details of two Ikats.

Hinggi kombu, man's cloth

Beadwork patch for a baby carrier from Kalimantan from before 1934. The central motif is called kalong kalunan. The figure has arms that become hornbills and feet that become dragonlike figures called asu. Symbols for the tree of life and the entire cosmos. Only nobility can use this motif.

Guardian figure shaped like a feline, a clouded panther Neofelis diardi from Kalimantan from before 1925

Very small ancestor figure made of black ebony from Leti, South Moluccas

When I left the museum I wrote something in the guestbook. I sat outside for a while and decided to visit the Museum Het Prinsenhof. I was putting away my backpack when the security of Nusantara entered, looking for me..He read my comment in the guestbook and thought I should meet the curator ("conservator") of the museum. I'm very happy he did that for me! I met the curator shortly and received shortly after my visit an email.
In the exhibition of the museum there are no Batiks on display, but they have Batiks in the depot and I'm invited to see them, jippie! But first I'm going to interview the curator. I always been very interested in history, archeology & Anthropology and before I went to the Art Academy I dreamed of becoming an restorer.
So how do you become the curator of the Museum Nusantara, what is her connection with Indonesia and what are her favorite items of the collection, more questions and more importantly the answers end of October here on The journey to Batik (see blogpost Interview with Assistant curator of Museum Nusantara.)

A quest in Delft

Fabric Hall in Delft

Wednesday 10 of August I visited Delft. I was looking at an earlier blogpost about Batik Buketan. In this post I metioned the influence of Delftware on Batik Belanda. (read the post here). And that in my opinion the patterns used in Batik Belanda are not based or inspired on the typical Dutch Delftware, but on the Chinese porcelain on which our Delftware is based on in the first place, or you could say "borrowed" from.

I also mention that my knowledge of Delftware is limited and that I would do some research first. So I finally went to visit Delft.
It also had to do with the Batiks by Carp I documented. She also made a Batik with the typical blue & white where Batik Belanda is know for.

Unfortunelly I didn't visit the Delfst Blue museum, because I was short of money. I did visit the Musum Nusantara (see next post), Museum Het Prinsenhof and the Botanic Garden.
And walking around in Delft I came across some nice inspired on Delftware things.

I will visit Delft again soon and then I make sure to have a more filled wallet.

Bench at Museum Het Prinsenhof

Lantern at Museum Nusantara

Tile in the bathroom of the Delft Blue Museum

Tile in the bathroom of the Delft Blue Museum

Botanic Garden

Walking through the Botanic Garden I realized that a lot of the flowers there are found in Batik. I made some close-up so I can compare them with the flowers in Batiks I photographed. But also maybe in Delfstware.
They also had a big aviary at the Botanic Garden. It was full of Gelatiks ("Rijstvogels") and other finches. The Gelatiks had a beautiful song, very different from Batik (my own ricebird). When I first saw the Gelatiks, two were jumping on a stick, like little drummers.

I captured both birds & flowers on my quest to find more about Delftware. A quest in the opposite direction (first a post about it "Batik Buketan", then a visit to the city where it is made, but finding not pottery but tropical birds and flowers), wondering where it will lead me...

Musa Basjoo, Japanese Banana, used to make cloting & thea bags

Rice bird


August 5, 2011

Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam

Offering cup decorated with red coral

Wednesday me and Koen visited the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. It's not allowed to make pictures, but they have all these beautiful, inspiring things and we had a Iphone. They told us on every floor we weren't allowed, but I had to share these with you!

A (glued) Tibetan sand mandala

It's very nice to see one up-close, but it's also strange. It's not meant to survive. It stands for the temporary of life and if you then go and glue it to a board..t's just a typical Western thing to do. A lot of people ask me if my ricecarpet are glued or why I don't glue it. I always say that the idea behind it is that it's temporary. And if a ricecarpet was not from rice, beans and lentils, but a real carpet no one will look at it that long or intensely. And that maybe now they will look better or longer to the things they own, the things they use, the things that are common ("vanzelfsprekend") because they are just as temporary.

The Batiks were a bit hidden, but I noticed this way of displaying Batiks also in Amsterdam & Leiden. Maybe it has to do with the fragility of the fabrics. In Amsterdam the conservator told me that they never exhibit the Batiks in their collection (only with theme exhibitions) because they don't have the manpower to change the Batiks every 6 months and that then the risk of the colours fading is too high. But they also had a lot of Ikats at the Wereldmuseum and they were fully displayed.
One Batik I was really happy to see. It's called Simbut, a cloth painted with a pattern using Darih, a thick paste made of Oryza glutinosa (flour of sticky rice) instead of wax. The Darih is applied with sticks or by hand. Therefore the pattern are more rough, then the Batiks made with canting. The Batiks (in Dutch called "Kleefrijstbatiks") are made during a ritual. The abstract symbols on the cloth are mostly compasses ("windroos", shaped like a clover) and Swatika (Sunlike symbols). The cloth is used for protection and sometimes they hang a Simbut it the top of a new building for good luck and as a protection against bad spirits.

I know this Batik from the book "Bloemen van het heelal" by A. Veldhuizen-Djajasoebrata (see image above). I think it's a really inspiring Batik. The pattern is very simple, but very strong. I used the patterns in my ricecarpets. See the posts about Dance in a ricecarpet "Goddess of Rice?" and Making of Dance in a Ricecarpet in Etten-Leur .
The symbols stand for the cycle of life (the turning Sun, the directions of the wind) and the temporay of life.
I think it's the same Batik, too bad it wasn't displayed fully..

If you are in Rotterdam do visit the Wereldmuseum. The building is beautiful and they have 3 floors filled with special objects from all over the world (Africa, Asia, Oceania, America, Islamic culture)!

August 4, 2011

Made by Carp

Tuesday I visited the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. I had an appointment with the conservator to look at some very special Batiks. The Batiks made by Maria Paulina Carp.

On the 28th of September I will give an lecture about My journey to Batik at the Indische Huiskamer in Eindhoven. To prepare for my lecture I visited the Indische Huiskamer in April, see blogpost Indische Huiskamer (in Dutch). There I met madam Rosielle-Bergsma, the granddaughter of Maria Paulina Carp. She told me about the Batiks she gave to the Tropenmuseum.

I'm so glad I got the chance to see, touch and to document the Batiks made by Carp. I will share the pictures after the lecture, because it still has to be a little surprise for madam Rosielle-Bergsma to see them again.

I got an open invitation from the conservator that if I would like to see more Batiks, I'm always welcome.
Ohh will it be more Batiks from Pekalongan or maybe from Lasem or Cirebon...?

A box with 4 special Batik Belanda's

Signature "M Carp Pekalongan" , Made by Maria Paulina Carp