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

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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