May 30, 2017

What happened to Von Franquemont

My second ModeMuze article went online about two weeks ago. Because it is in Dutch, I translated here for you. The article is my quest to solve one of the mysteries about Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867). I hope in time to solve more and unravel the true story of this inspiring Batik maker. Enjoy!

Swept away and disappeared: 

What really happened to Batikmaker Von Franquemont

Batiks that could be from Miss Franquemont's Batik workshop

On of my favorite things about blogging is gathering, exploring and unravel (for me) new information. As a detective I read my way through time and let old times come to live in my imagination.
A fabric, a motif or a sentence can be enough to pull all my books from the shelves (I own two bulging bookcases with partly read books) or google search terms. Often I found something else then what I was looking for.
A similar kind of quest started after re-reading Daan van Dartel article about Batik Belanda on ModeMuze. Batik Belanda is on of my favorite subject and Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867) on of my favorite Batikmakers from that time.

Mother of Batik Belanda

Von Franquemont started her Batik workshop in 1840. This lady is seen as the 'Mother of Batik Belanda', the first to make Batiks on Java with a mix of Javanese and European motifs for a just as mixed clientele. She was already famous when she was alive, she created an unique green and her life ended spectaculair. In 1867 she got swept away together with her Batik workshop when the volcano Ungaran erupted.
On ModeMuze Daan van Dartel writes she disappears with an earthquake. That sparked my curiosity. How was it again?

At the foot of the Volcano

I pictured myself during a next visit to Java standing on the location where once was her Batik workshop. Online I started looking for the exact place of her swept away workshop. It was established at the foot of the volcano Ungaran, written in old Dutch as ‘Oengaran’, in the region Semarang. Searching for Ungaran, in combination with her name, I came on this blog. Next to a short description of the Batik maker and her Batik neighbor Catharina Carolina van Oosterom-Philips, was a newspaper article of C.J. von Franquemont’s death. The name was right, the location was correct, the year also, but it said in old Dutch “Heden overleed alhier, na eene langdurige ziekte, me jufrouw C.J. von Franquemont” / "After a long term illness, Miss C.J. von Franquemont died today".

“After a long term illness”?

Being swept away and long term don't really combine that well. Was this a different Franquemont?

Eruption or disease?

I grabbed my books. Veldhuisen’s ‘Batik Belanda’; in 1867 swept away after eruption of Mt. Ungaran, Inge Elliot’s ‘Fabric of Enchantment’ Ditto. Daan van Dartel for ModeMuze, in “June 1867” with an earthquake instead of eruption. Van Dartel refers to Veldhuisen and Veldhuisen refers to “De Batik-kunst in Nederlands-Indië” by G.P. Rouffaer and Dr. H.H. Juynboll.
Long live the internet, because I found a downloadable version of the book from 1899.

Solving puzzles


Next to Rouffaer’s striking vision on the development of the Batik world — he has a rather low opinion of the European "distasteful influence" on this artform— I read “Carolina Josephina von Franquemont nu, was op 25 Maart 1819 te Soerabaja geboren, en overleed te Oengaran op 10 Juni 1867, den eigen dag der aardbeving die vooral de residentie Jogjakarta zoo teisterde” / “Carolina Josephina von Franquemont, was born on 25 March 1819 in Surabaya, and died in Ungaran on 10 June 1867, on the day of the earthquake".

Aha, there was an earthquake!

Carolina von Franquemont Sister put the obituary in the 'Java-Bode'. The same newspaper was filled with reports on the earthquake that shook Java. From different places on Java messages were published that read like eyewitness reports. Also Semarang was affected. Clocks stood still, while the fortress bell kept ringing. Houses in the Chinese camp collapsed. In the region Semarang only some buildings showed cracks and a garden wall fell over.

Dramatic Landslide?

The mountain or volcano near the place Oengaran was not mentioned in the Java-Bode. The earthquake was not an result of an eruption. I even found out that no historical eruptions are reported of the deeply eroded volcano Ungaran.
Is "On the day of the earthquake” misinterpreted? A cumulative error? Or was it a landslide that swept away Franquemonts home and colour recipes?

In the book ‘Java, Past & Present’ from 1915 is nicely written how due to heavy logging by the in-laws of Miss Von Franquemont an Hindu temple ruin is uncovered in 1877 on Mount Ungaran. But not a word about landslides.

Mysterie around her death and Batik heritage

If Miss von Franquemont didn't suddenly disappeared, but died after a long term ilness, what happened with her Batik designs and colour recipes?
Is it still a coincidence that the moved away Batik neighbor Van Oosterom made almost the same designs and later developed ‘Prankemon’ green?
There are no signed Batiks from Von Franquemont, or from Van Oosterom? There is a Batik ascribed to Franquemont with a note with the written words ‘Semarang - Ungaran’ on it and there is one with a stitched note with ‘A van Oosterom’.  But who made what exactly? And moreover there where next to their workshops also other, Chinese, Batik workshops active in that region.

So there you have it, alternative facts are of all times and even the smallest piece of information can raise more questions then give answers. And precisely that makes blogging so much fun!

Read more:
> Earlier post on De reis naar Batik about Franquemont's fairy tail Batiks 'Little Red Riding Hood, where are you going?'
> Previous post about Batik Belanda on my blog 
> Daan van Dartel's ModeMuze article about Batik Belanda 'Koloniale mode: wederzijdse invloeden in Indo-Europese batik'
Asal Oesoel, site where I found the obituary of C.J. von Franquemont

May 20, 2017

Pattern Edition Batik Statement: Udan Liris

Last month I posted my first Batik Statement Pattern Edition. Time for a new one! 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: Udan Liris.
Udan Liris means "Light Rain" or drizzling. Or in Dutch "Motregen". When rain in the Netherlands starts falling diagonal it means it rains pretty hard, but in the case of this Batik motif we are talking about the light, drizzling stuff.
This Batik design is always made out of diagonal lines of different or similar widths. The lines are filled with different motifs. I believe there is a number of different motifs being used to create a ritme, but I forgot if it is always the exact same number of lines (if you know, please comment below!). These filling motifs can have each their own meaning, but together they are Udan Liris.
The motif is diagonal, like the the Parang motif I described in the previous Pattern Edition, and it is also traditionally in brown, black (blue) on white.
Today, likewise with Parang, this motif is mostly made with cap, but still some brave Batikmakers do it by hand. Ibu Rasminah was making one when I was visiting her in Batang with lines of 1 to 2 centimeter width. She didn't liked making it, because she got dizzy from it. I bought one from her with thick lines which will be featured in my book. The one I'm wearing in the statement is a gift from Sacha Lannoye, thank you dear! She bought it on Bali wear it is worn when going to temples. To capture the meaning of Udan Liris I posed for you in rain, heavy thick rain. I thought that if the rain was heavy enough my camera would capture it...Mind you, it was February when I took this didn't, but I still think it is a clear rain statement.

I received a comment through Facebook about the numbers of lines: 
The maximum of lines is between 7 till 11 different motifs that then repeat again. Seven lines is most common and used to be for 'princesses',. Nine till eleven lines shows the height in rank of royalty. Eleven is for the highest, the Sultan and his family. 
Thanks Renske Heringa for sharing this information with me and the readers of  this blog! And thanks you, Renske, for reading The journey to Batik!

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,- > pre-order now at sabine{at} !

May 5, 2017

Good Life II

Last week my first article for ModeMuze went online, 'Batik ‘Tiga Negeri’ & Java Print ‘Good Living’ jippie! Because it is in Dutch, I translated here for you. The article is a revisit to a subject I blogged about before, the Java Print 'Good Living' by Vlisco, and of which I learned more. 
And even more after my article on ModeMuze got published! So read the translated and extended article down below, enjoy!

Batik ‘Tiga Negeri’ & Java Print ‘Good Living’

What have the most popular Java Print in Ghana and most expensive Batik from Indonesia in common? A lot and much more then I thought! 

Batik at the exhibition 'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' in Helmond

There it was.

In the exhibition to celebrate the 170th anniversary of Vlisco, the Wax print manufactory in Helmond. The Batik I wrote about in the post 'Good Life' on this blog. But this post was not about this Batik, but about the identical Java Print designed by Vlisco. I already suspected it was a copy of a Batik. so I ended my post with the wish to see the Java Print next to the 'original' one one day. I promised to revisit the subject when I learned more and you can imagine my surprise seeing this almost identical Batik. Not only identical in design, but also in its meaning, its history and its popularity today.

Tiga Negeri

Lets start at the beginning. The Batik in red, blue and brown, shows a combination of patterns from different regions. End of the 19th century it was common to bring these different motifs onto one cloth. On Java, Indonesia, Batiks became more popular in the middle of the 19th century and the wearer was less concern with the rules of which motif belong to which region. Batik makers started experimenting with colours and patterns from other areas. This is how 'Tiga Negeri' Batiks got invented. 'Tiga Negeri'  means "three countries", or in this context "three states". 'Tiga Negeri' refers to the making of the Batik on three locations. Sometimes only the colouring of the cloth, but sometimes also the applying of the wax was done on three different locations on Java. The red and blue was done in matching motif in the 'Pesisir' region on the Nord coast of Java, the brown was done on the other side of Java in the so called ‘Vorstenlanden-style’.

Detail of Batik at the exhibition 'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' in Helmond

The Netherlands, Indonesia & Ghana

At the end of the 19th century there was a lively trade in all sorts of textiles on Java among which 'imitation batiks'. This one-side printed cottons are introduced on the market beginning of that century by i.a. the English, Dutch and Swiss. Sales increase when the textiles are colour-resistant, washable without losing its colour, and printed on both sides. These cottons were the predecessor of the now well-known Wax prints, but have a market of their own.
End 19the century the 'imitation batiks' were not only sold in Indonesia as a cheap alternative for Batik, but also found their way to East Africa as ‘Khanga’ fabrics for Tanzania and Kenya. Later they went as ‘Fancy prints’ or ‘Java Garments’ to i.a. Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa. Now the prints are best know as ‘Java Print’ by Vlisco.

‘Tiga Negeri’ Batik was made on three places on Java and later got inspired by three places in the use of pattern and colour.  Today a 'Tiga Negeri' is the ultimate way of showing your skills as a Batik maker. The design allows you to work in different styles, but most importantly you can fill the cloth with as many patterns as possible. This in combined with a lot of colours: the base in red, blue and brown, and today even yellow, green and lilac, makes a 'Tiga Negeri' one of the most expensive Batik designs today.

And when do you wear such an expensive Batik? When you can married of course!

Work by artist Renée Koldewijn made and inspired by 'Good Living'
On the wall a original Vlisco, lighter blue then 
the Chinese 'Hitarget' copy, that was used for the shirt, hares and painting

A Good Life

The big motif on the Batik is builded up out of floral vines with lotuses and flying birds. The motif is based on the frequently used 'Tree of Life' from India that is also common in the fabric Chintz.
Chintz were traded and copied in Europe and Indonesia already from the 17th century. The 'imitaties batiks' were a direct result from this. The 'Tree of Life' can be found in many religions and is a symbol for getting knowledge through growth. A Lotus stands also for purity, because it grows from the mud producing beautiful flowers. A Tree Of Life from Lotus flowers is what you wish as newlyweds for your future together.

The Java Print' is already 75 years a bestseller in Ghana. Batiks get named after the maker or type of design, with the Java Prints this goes different. The sellers name the fabrics. In this case  ‘Good Living’. The cloth is worn to protect against jealousy about your good life. "A good life
brings forgiveness” says an owner of this print in the video ‘The Currency of Ntoma'
by Godfried Donkor.

So what have Java Print 'Good Living' and Batik 'Tiga Negeri in common? Almost everything! Two fabrics on two locations in the world connected in their history, their design and meaning for already a century.

A Second Skin

After the article got published by ModeMuze, I got a friend request on Facebook. I normally don't accept so fast, but her pictures made me happy at once.
It turned out I wrote my article about artist Renée Koldewijn favourite fabric. A fabric that inspires her and of which she made many artworks. I was happy I could use two of her pictures in this post. The first picture shows a painting, shirt and rabbits sculpture made from a Hitarget copy from the classic Vlisco 'Good Living' design. After discovering this Hitarget fabric was a "fake", she found the original from Vlisco and got even more inspired by it. I love the image of the Java Print wall, with the artist dressed in the Java print (Chinese copy) holding up her painting of Obama with a 'Good Living' shirt on!

"This motif became a second skin. I wear it daily and even added it to my interior  This is my home. We are one, my house and I, we blend together"

- Renée Koldewijn

Thanks for sharing Renée!

Screenshot while preparing the article for ModeMuze

Read more:
- Previous post ‘Good life’
- Book ‘Katoendruk in Nederland’ from 1989
- Book ‘Indigo, Leven in een kleur’ from 1985
- Book ‘Fabric of Enchantment, Batik from the North Coast of Java’ from 1996
- Book ‘Batik, de ziel van Java’ from 1996
- Article ‘Over Indische batik-kunst, vooral die van Java’ by G. P. Rouffaer from ‘Bulletin no. 23 van het Koloniaal Museum te Haarlem’ from 1900
- Book ‘Textiele versieringen in Nederlandsch-Indië’  from J.A. Loebèr from 1914
- ‘Van Vlissingen & Co’s gedenkboek 1846-1946’ from 1948

Special thanks to the library of the Textielmuseum Tilburg
and Batik expert William Kwan Hwie Liong

May 2, 2017

This Is How She Does

Katy Perry at the Met Gala 2017

While everyone is talking about the 'red dress', I'm staring amazed at her head. Not one, but two traditional Dutch head ornaments are on Katy Perry's head. And apparently they are not Dutch, but part of the latest Maison Margiela Spring collection*. This is how it happens and it is very appropriate that - I believe we can call her that - the Queen of Cultural Appropriation finally is walking away with an European tradition. **

The Catwalk look by Maison Margiela 

Katy Perry at the Met Gala 2017

There is a lot of talk online and offline about Cultural Appropriation and particularly about what a white person shouldn't wear. For me this is very helpful and I learn a lot about important traditional dress from many different cultures. I learn about how it is traditionally worn, where, why, its history and in the process you can conclude for yourself this is probably not meant for you.
It also inspired me to look into Dutch traditional wear more. Because what is the appropriate fashion for Dutch and why do we feel the need to 'lend' so much from other cultures if we have a interesting traditional wear history ourselves.
First of, we start with the whole history repeats itself. When I first looked into Dutch traditional wear, I noticed we wore a lot of grey and black. Not really the thing I'm known for to wear. There were no patterns, not even checked fabrics. Our colonial history let us to colourful, patterned textiles that entered our tradition wear, mostly in the more coastal areas. We lend, copied, used fabrics from overseas. Silk from China, Checked and printed cotton from India. The wealth that came to our shores by trade allowed the traditional wear to become more elaborate, more over the top. A part of the traditional wear shows this proces really nicely: the 'oorijzer' (translated "Ear iron", is there an official English word for it?).

The Catwalk look by Maison Margiela 

Affiche from 1931 to promote 'Holland' for English tourism
The funny thing is that the traditional wear the girl is showing 
can only be found in the province Zeeland #

Ladies in traditional wear at a book presentation about traditional wear #

What started with a simpel iron band behind the head to hold the lace cap on its place become in three centuries an ornament that was big and shiny. 
During the ModeMuze lecture by Jacco Hooikammer he explained and showed this development. I also was surprised by images of traditional wear from Vlaardingen. I was so happy to discover that in the place I was born, 'Oorijzers' wear part of that dress too.*** After Jacco's mother showed us the Sunday dress for Staphorst including a beautiful big zilver 'oorijzer, I was ready to start rocking this myself!
Even though Katy Perry beat me to it, I still want to do something with this. I think it is an interesting subject to explore further. Both in history as in actual fashion to wear, so I'll get back on this for sure!

Display at Fries Museum of the development of "Ear Irons"

Read & see more:

* The Hair and Makeup at Maison Margiela Haute Couture Spring 2017 Was Pure Art
** 5 Reasons Katy Perry Is Pop Music's Worst Cultural Appropriator 
*** Vlaardings Oorijzer from 1896  on ModeMuze

# Both images of from

Images of Katy Perry at the Met Gala 2017 are from:

Katy Perry's Met Gala 2017 Ensemble Is Jaw-Dropping
Met Gala 2017: avant-garde looks on the red carpet - in pictures
Met Gala brings the weirdness as Katy Perry dons a veil
Katy Perry Goes All Out in a Red Dress and Veil at Met Gala 2017: Photos