October 3, 2021

Pukul Terus

While the world was mostly still standing still, the fast life returned to the Netherlands, and for me. Juggling multiple projects while struggling with my health, left me little time to update my blog. Some projects I spend months on behind the scene, were yet again postponed, and new projects got even bigger. I am very happy that I can spend time, in these still difficult times, being busy with Batik!

Yesterday we celebrated already the 12th Hari Batik and my birthday, 37 already. Selamat Hari Batik! These passed months I fulfilled many of my dreams and started several projects that I wish to do for a long time already. So time for a little overview of what I have been working on, where to read more, follow, join etcetera! Pukul terus, much exciting Batik stuff to share, Ayo!


Batikworkshop for All You Can Art Summerschool students at Kunsthal Rotterdam,
 August 2021 

After the very nice batikworkshop I gave hosted at the studio of Guave in Januari 2020, all other workshops got cancelled for the rest of 2020 and beginning of 2021. I didn't want to give workshops were people had to sit 1,5 meter apart. Also because for making Batik it is pretty unpractical and it should be above all fun. Feeling free to share stories and look at each-others creations. So I waited till it improved enough in the Netherlands. When artists Pris Roos and Liesbeth Labeur asked me if I wanted to give workshops for the All You Can Art Summerschool at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, it was the right time to start again. It was exciting, do I still know how to give a workshop even? The students welcomed me with open arms and were so eager to learn all about Batik. It was a great experience being in this Art explosion that 'All You Can Art' is, teaching again and being asked so many times by visitors of the museum if they could join. Sooo had to say no a lot, hehe, but hopefully in the near future we can invite everyone to join in to learn about Batik.

Batikworkshop for All You Can Art Summerschool students at Kunsthal Rotterdam, 
 August 2021

Batikworkshop for cast 'Lichter dan ik', photo by Myrthe Groot, September 2021

Another cool Batikworkshop I was asked to give was for the cast of the theaterplay, based on the book, 'Lichter dan ik'. My batik ladies of Guave made amazing costumes for this theatershow, sooo a must-see! Guave invited me to teach the cast some more on Batik. Between their rehearsal I gave a short talk and let them try out applying the hot was with a canting onto cotton. It was a quick intro, but it was so wonderful that they wanted to dive into this topic more to make sure the Batik references in their play are done correctly. 'Lichter dan ik' will be in theaters 8 October, so get your tickets now!

I hope to schedule new dates for Batikworkshops end of the year, check my website for announcements!


Cooking out the Batiks made by the Summerschool students at home


Me & Art selecting the tiny thread of which the sample can be taken, 
Photo by Paul Romijn/NMvW, July 2021

Since the start of my research, already 4 years ago, one wish was to find out what is actually the green Batikentrepreneur Carolina Josephina von Franquemont is famous for? 
The colourfast natural dye green was first mentioned by G.P. Rouffaer, he also attributes in catalogs Batiks to Von Franquemont because of their typical ‘Prankemon Green’. He calls it a ‘seagreen’, but the shades of green vary from piece to piece ~ either because the green wasn’t that colourfast after all, or more likely, not all are by the same Batikworkshop.
As a Research Associate at RCMC I could dive into all the Batiks with green attributed to Von F. Or should I say all Batik with green that got attributed to her at one point in time in the NMvW & Wereldmuseum collection. Whether it is a dark green, more blueish green or almost a patrol blue, all somewhere in time had a (now digital) note attached that the green could be ‘Prankemon green'.
Although more and more Batiks over time got attributed to Von Franquemont, the green was never examined to find out what is was actually made of. With todays technology even a small part of a thread can provide us with knowledge on the ingredients used, natural or synthetic, even on mordants and other materials. After a year of getting it approved internal, 5 selected Batiks are being examined by Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed.
RCE experts Art Proaño Gaibor & Elsemieke van Rietschoten came to the Tropenmuseum in July to take the samples. We will be working on putting on paper what the results can tell on the dyes and how we can use this information to better date these Batiks. Sooo hopefully soon more on this!

RCE experts Art Proaño Gaibor & Elsemieke van Rietschoten examining the Batik, July 2021

RCE experts Art Proaño Gaibor taking a tiny sample from the Nutmeg batik, July 2021

Starting our TTT project at the Textielmuseum library, July 2021

While continuing with my RCMC research, I also started a researchproject together with the amazing onlineplatform Things That Talk. Fresco Sam-Sin of Things That Talk is a fellow research associate at RCMC and when I heard about his onlineplatform I contacted him that tel him I would love to contribute a story to the page. 
The story became a Zone and the writing became guiding a team of students. With the title 'Fabric(s) of Leiden' me and my team are diving into the fascinating world of the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij. The collections of the LKM are stored in many different locations spread over the Netherlands and I spend the last 4 years mapping them out. This Zone on TTT gives me the opportunity to share the amazing objects that have been kept and unravel the history of this company together with a team. 
We started our researchproject with a visit to the Textielmuseum in Tilburg. Jantiene van Elk welcomed us in the library of the museum, thank you, where we could see the books kept made by the LKM filled with recipes and samples, together with some wonderful pieces from the museumcollection.
Together with Phoebe, I also made a visit to the depot of Museum Volkenkunde to see the objects she selected for her story. 
It is so much fun to share my experience & love for this history with this new generation of cultural professionals and looking forward to the creating this Zone! 
Soon more, because the stories will be published on Things That Talk as soon as possible!

Phoebe looking at the objects at the library of the Textielmuseum, July 2021

Depot visit for the TTT project, August 2021

Collecting Stories

This years Hari Batik Batik Statement

While wrapping up my research for RCMC, as much as possible, because it is never finished of course, I am working on and exploring new stories I would like to research. 
It is connected to the research I have been doing, of course, and it will be a slow process, for sure, but I have been meeting with several people, planning interviews and hope I can dive into it more next year.
I can share that my wish is to explore more on the batikmakers at the end of the 19th century, not just on Java, but also in the Netherlands. There are some interesting (colonial) connections and it is a time-period that I find fascinating.  
This year my Hari Batik Batik Statement, here above, was inspired by Loïe Fuller, best known for her Serpentine Dance. I got inspired after seeing all the artists interpretations made of her at the wonderful Art Nouveau exhibition at Allard Pierson Museum. There they also show the famous film from the 1890’s in which you see Fuller twirling around with her meters of silk creating marvellous shapes. In the real performances the colours would change using lights, in the film the colours are coloured in. 
The exhibition shows next to these works about Fuller also some pieces made using Batik. In the Dutch Art Nouveau movement, De Nieuwe Kunst, Batik was a populair technique for making fabrics for furniture & decorative objects. Also many women active in this movement used this technique. Not much is known about these ladies & my wish is to dive into these stories and retell them soon.

The orginal cantings Mary used the make Batik Tulis with, 
both in the Netherlands and in East-Java. 
Kept in a little box, a dream to hold

One of stories is that of Mary Mathilda Constancia Herrmann. In July I was welcomed by the granddaughter of Mary Mathilda Constancia Herrmann, also named Mary. I saw the Batiks made by her grandmother a month before in real life and when reading the notes the donator gave with the Batiks I realized there was more that had not been written down yet. I reached out to Mary, the granddaughter, and was invited to her home to get to meet Mary, her grandmother.
Granddaughter Mary explained she gathered a lot of information before donating the Batiks to the Tropenmuseum, planning to make a book on her grandmother but never got that far. She also traced every Batik on tracing paper, including a Batik that wasn’t donated to the museum, but is with her nephew. A wonderful surprise, the Batik includes a drawing of the place where grandma Mary’s father grew up, the German city Sagan.
The life of ‘Oma’ Mary after making the Indigo coloured Batiks is as fascinating as her years spent in the former Dutch East Indies. Her granddaughter Mary lived with her oma for a while, so she heard the stories directly and still remembers a lot. Also there is loads of documentation kept. 
I made the appointment for a return visit so I can make a fuller overview of Oma Mary’s stories & work together on making sure this history is kept for future generations. To be continued.

Batik by Mary Mathilda Constancia Herrmann traced by Mary with notes


Shishani & Sisterhood at PAARD in Den Haag, 29 September 2021

Wrote about the 'Shishani & Sisterhood' show here before. Months after our show was streamed we just had our first live performance this past Wednesday at popstage PAARD in Den Haag (NL). Amazing experience and even greater we have another show next Saturday on 9 October!
A live stream from De Melkweg for the SIPA festival. Tune in on Sipa Youtube page around 2 pm Dutch time / 18pm Indonesian Time. Don't miss it! 

Shishani & Sisterhood is a show by & with:
Tieka Masfar 
Sabine Bolk 
Jaimie van Hek 
Tiga Batang Rumah 
Asih Sungkono
Wulan Dumatubum
Eveline Carels
Sandra Sahupala 

Shishani & Sisterhood rehearsal 

My article ‘Batik, tien jaar immaterieel erfgoed van Indonesië’ got published in July. 
I wrote this article in April 2019 on Batik being the intangible heritage of Indonesia since 2009. I wrote it just months before I went to Indonesia in October 2019 to join the celebrations on Batik being 10 years Unesco intangible heritage of Indonesia . In my article I focus on how Batik is being treated & threatened, the good & the bad and my journey through all this. Which fitted perfect with the theme ‘Revival of textile’ the Textielcommissie chose for their 2019 symposium & publication.
Although the article feels a little old to me { I mean so much has happened since} but still it is a dream come through to have an article in a publication of Textielcommissie

My first international published article in English is out now!! 
With the great title, suggested by my research supervisor Francine Brinkgreve, ‘Interpreting Batik from the Van Rijckevorsel Collection’. The article is a shorter version of the three articles I wrote before in Dutch on the Dr. Elie van Rijckevorsel collection at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam (NL). The article can be read in the September issue of the Textiles Asia Journal. You can order a copy through www.textilesasia.com. Limited copies available. 

Last but certainly not least, we just launched the Open Call for a great translation-mapping-immigration-project initiated by artist Pris Roos who teamed up with me and heritage expert Yulia Pattopang. 
Project Batik X Liliawati is a project in which we translate a book on Batik with the help of the Indonesian speaking community of the Netherlands. The results will be published here on the Journey to Batik, turning my blog into the batik-researchcenter-database I wanted to create for a while now. 
But first we are looking for translators. 
For more info, read the open call in Dutch here below:

Project Batik X Liliawati is een project gestart vanuit een zoektocht naar wie en waar de Bahasa Indonesia sprekende mensen in Nederland zijn en vandaan komen EN de liefde voor batik, het klederdracht van nationaal erfgoed. Het project is in samenwerking met Pris Roos (kunstenaar), Yulia Pattopang (schrijver en historicus) en Sabine Bolk (batikonderzoeker). Het is begonnen met als doel om het verhaal te vertellen en te onthullen wie en waar wij vandaan komen door middel van het vertalen van het boek “Seni Kerajinan : Batik Indonesia” geschreven door S.K. Sewan Susanto S. Tekst in 1973.

Het is begonnen bij maker Pris Roos geboren in Nederland, de dochter van Indonesische immigranten geboren in Bogor, Indonesië die naar Nederland in de jaren ’70 zijn gekomen met het doel om een beter bestaan te hebben. Haar familie heeft dat gedaan door een toko te starten en zij is van jongs af aan betrokken geweest in en rondom de toko. Haar kunstpraktijk is geïnspireerd van de toko, het eten, de mensen die er komen en vooral de Indonesische cultuur. De moeder van Pris Roos heet trouwens officieel Liliawati, maar veranderd in de westerse naam Berry zoals iedereen haar nu noemt. Dit project is vernoemd ter ere aan haar moeder en de Indonesische cultuur.

Dit handboek “Seni Kerajinan : Batik Indonesia”  is geschreven in Bahasa Indonesia in 1973 en gaat over de geschiedenis en ontwikkeling van het ambacht batik in Indonesië per regio. Wij voelden ons rijk toen we dit boek ontdekten, maar er is geen vertaling van het boek en in plaats van het te laten vertalen door één vertaler, willen wij het boek ontrafelen en vertalen samen met u en 199 andere Bahasa Indonesia sprekende mensen. Bahasa Indonesia is de officiële taal die men op school leert, maar wij zijn ook ervan bewust dat verschillende groepen nog streektalen of dialecten spreken. Wij vragen echter iedereen om mee te doen die Indonesisch spreken en schrijven. U gaat een klein gedeelte (een paar bladzijden) van het boek vertalen met de Bahasa Indonesia waarmee u opgegroeid bent. Samen met de vertaling vragen wij ook van elk persoon om een vragenlijst in te vullen over hun herkomst, taal en bezit van batik.

Indonesië bestaat uit verschillende eilanden, provinciën en culturen. De Javaanse cultuur is voor velen in Nederland het meest bekende cultuur uit Indonesië, maar er zijn talloze andere regio's met mooie culturen zoals Sulawesi, de Molukken en West-Papua die een sterke connectie met Nederland hebben. Maar de immigranten van het Indonesisch archipel delen samen nog de Indonesische taal en het dragen van batik. 

Project Batik X Liliawati is op zoek naar: 

- Mensen van Indische, Molukse en Papuaanse afkomst die Bahasa Indonesia spreken en lezen.  
- Indonesiërs, Molukkers en Papuanen die op dit moment in Nederland wonen.
- Indonesisch Nederlanders. De tweede en derde generaties van Indonesische migranten die in Nederland zijn geboren maar spreken thuis nog regelmatig Bahasa Indonesia

Hoe doet u mee?

Meld u aan via batikboek@gmail.com met uw adresgegevens, zodat wij het vertaalpakket naar u kan sturen. Portokosten worden door ons vergoed. 

Thanks everyone for supporting my journey to Batik, here on my blog, online and in person. I feel so grateful I can spend my time working with, on, about Batik! Who would have thought I would be still busy with Batik and so busy with Batik, lucky me. 

Till the next post!

June 11, 2021

Sarong on Screen

Yesterday the short dancefilm 'Sarung' of Garin Nugroho premiered and I just had to share it here, together with some other on screen sarong appreciations I spotted these last months online. For more Batik online, please check out my previous blogpost Taking Batik Online.

I have been a big fan of Garin Nugroho's work for a while. His 'Opera Jawa' inspired me to make 'Dance in a ricecapet' (together with the films by Tony Gatlif). Last year, due to Covid, his film 'Memories of My Body' was screened online and I was happy I could enjoy this inspiring, moving film from my own couch. It is not always easy to see Garin Nugroho's work, and when I read the Esplanade festival commissioned a film by him and it would be screened online, I marked my agenda.
The film 'SARUNG' will be online till 27 of June, so don't wait to watch!

Sarung by Garin Nugroho

The humble sarung plays an important part in daily life, used not only as clothing but also to put children to sleep and to wrap and carry food. Sarung follows a dancer who is inspired by this versatile piece of cloth and begins creating new choreography. In the process, she is reminded of her mother whom she has not seen in a long time, spurring her to make the journey home. Sombre yet moving, this film reflects on the notions of home and familial bonds.

Raya and the Last Dragon

I think I got overly excited when I spotted Batik making in the trailer of Disney's latest movie 'Raya and the Last Dragon'. I had to see it of course. The snapshot from the trailer is as as long as Batik is featured in the actual film, but still. The Batik is showed lovely & wrong..It is a fantasy story piling up of Southeast Asian culture, so I guess they can take a little leap with it. The Batik is made with a very big canting and the end result is somehow Thai silk...Never the less, I really enjoyed the visuals of the film and the story. The clothing and jewellery everyone wears is gorgeous and it is fun to see where inspiration is taken from. 

 Swara Gembira Youtube & Instagram

Thanks to Ky Kale (check out his youtube channel, it is great!) I have been enjoying the video of Swara Gembira. Great to listen to Bahasa Indonesian and some slang while famous people (mostly influencers and local celebs) get wrapped in traditional Indonesian textiles. 
The concept is simple, yet very effective. The celebs bring their own clothing, upper part, and they get styled with kains from all over Indonesia. The channel shows that dressing traditional can be actually cooler than dressing in jeans (pun intended ;)) 
I really enjoy the videos and dreaming of being on the show one day, meanwhile I enjoy it from home and try out their sarong-styling ways.

Go check out the sarongs on screen and do put sarong watch tips in the comments!

May 3, 2021

What to do with the Nutmeg batiks?

Nutmeg batik, TM-1585-4, next to TM-1585-3 
in the depot of the Tropenmuseum, 
both Collection NMvW

“What to do with the Nutmeg batiks?” has marked my agenda a couple of months now. This year we commemorate that is was 400 years ago,  to be precise on 6 May 1621 the genocide on the Banda islands occurred and on 8 May the massacre of the imprisoned Orang Kaya. JP Coen who led the “punishment expedition” has been questioned on his actions ever since and still we are discussion whether his statue and streetnames named after him should be removed from our public space (the answer is Yes! And #wegmetJPCoen).


Nutmeg batik, TM-1585-4
Collection NMvW

Nutmeg is not commonly used as a motif in textiles. Not in Batik, but also not in the earlier populair Chintz. 
Chintz are block printed cotton fabrics from India that were often ordered by European with motifs fitting the European market in the 17th & 18th century . I remember standing in the V&A in London in 2014 in-front of a display and realising all the chintz had Papaver/Poppies on it. Opium is created from Papaver and formed an important product for the East India Company, the British VOC {our VOC also “dealed” in opium, a lot!}. 
So it would be logical that other trading goods would make in onto cloths as a motif, especially cloths that are catering the wishes of the foreigners. 
With spices this seemed not to be the case. Batik design started to changed half way through the 19the century. Batiks ordered by Europeans for the colonial exhibitions are often decorated with Zoo-animals, animals exotic for Java, cupids, as in fat angels, and a lot of wayang figures, which were before that time not common on Batik. 
From all Batiks that survived I, till now, only found two with a Nutmeg motif on it. One that is seen as The Von Franquemont since half way the 20th century and one made as a goodbye-gift for the gouverneur-generaal of the Dutch East Indies from 1875 till 1881, Johan Wilhelm van Lansberge. This batik was later also, wrongly, attributed to Von Franquemont.

Detail of Nutmeg batik, TM-1585-4

“De Nootmuskaat batik” as it is know in the Netherlands, The Nutmeg Batik, is part of a donation of no less than 196 objects. A large part consists of textiles of which a number of Batiks. Believed is they were worn by Adolphine Leonardina Wardenaar (1884-1942) the wife of P.H.Q.Bouman who made the donation in 1942. All batiks seem to be from a similar time, around 1900’s, but the Nutmeg got attributed to Von Franquemont in 1965 and is since then dated ‘1840-1867’. There is no additional provenance for this, but when it got published in a book in 1979 together with the spectacular, wrong, story about Von Franquemont’s passing, it has been shown/used as the example of what a Von Franquemont Batik looks like.

Page from the book 'Splendid Symbols. Textiles and Tradition in Indonesia' 

by M. Gittinger from 1979

Nutmeg Wax Print

I even found a copy of the famous Nutmeg Batik at the Vlisco archive. It is a very rough one-on-one copy, presumedly made for an exhibition to be sold in the giftshop, but never put in production. This Nutmeg wax print was donated in 1979, so was made before that date. 

Nutmeg wax print from the Vlisco Archive

Detail of Nutmeg wax print from the Vlisco Archive


in the depot of the Tropenmuseum, 
both Collection NMvW

The second batik that has a nutmeg motif on is a piece donated by J.W. van Lansberge to the Koloniaal Museum in 1881. The batik is made on an unusual material, pine-apple fibre, also known as ‘rameh’, which was a very populair material on colonial exhibitions, but not really common in every day use on Java it seems. It now being used again to create Batik on! The large cloth, 1,5 x 2,5 meter almost, is designed as a Batik with a kepala, head, and Badan, body. In the kepala  the letter ‘L’ or ‘J’ and in in the badan between flowers, cupids on top of an H and an L, a mythical swan with a crown and nutmegs. 

Detail of TM-H-91 with the crowned swan, the nutmeg and a part of the 'booh'

The nutmeg on TM-H-91

Nutmeg as a motif

For me it seemed odd there was nutmeg as a motif on these pieces and that it was almost proudly seen as the ultimate display of ‘European influence’ on Batik. “What to do with the Nutmeg batiks?” and their unclear attributions to Von Franquemont. 
I first wanted to learn more about the history of Nutmeg, before making any further statements on these pieces. 
I joined  the opening event of the online exhibition ‘From Cartography to Cookbooks: A web of Dutch Colonialism’ in January and there I saw speaker Dr. Joëlla van Donkersgoed wearing a blouse with a Nutmeg motif. She shared about her research on the Banda islands and her upcoming online ‘Banda 1621-2021 International roundtable series’. I contacted her afterwards about her shirt and the Batiks with nutmeg. She explained the fabric was sold in the Moluccas. The fabric was gifted to her and she let it made into a shirt. I later spotted the same fabric in photos of the making of the upcoming online exhibition ‘Pala – Nutmeg tales of Banda', used as a table cloth. Again this fabric was bought in the Moluccas.

Screenshot I shared in my insta story

Joëlla send me a link to wear the fabrics were sold online. 
This is from The Ambon Manise Shop

Print sold by The Ambon Manise Shop

Prints sold by The Ambon Manise Shop

I attended the online 'Banda 1621-2021 International roundtable' and was inspired to learn more about how the history of the Banda islands was re-told, commemorated, how they used rituals and dances to heal from what occurred and strengthen their connection to their ancestors. If you haven't watched yet, you can watch it back on  you can watch them back on Youtube.

It seems the Nutmeg as a motif have been (re)claimed. However the Nutmeg motifs on the old Batiks seem to be made in a different light. 
The Nutmeg Batik, TM-1585-4 is scheduled to be show in the upcoming exhibition 'De Erfenis', The inheritance, at the Tropenmuseum. I hope before it is put on display again a closer look will be taken at the provenance of this piece....

There is much to watch back, read and upcoming. 
Please check the different programs this week as mentioned above, but also:

Exhibition ‘I love Banda’ by photographer Isabelle Boon, with an online opening on 6 May and a podcast series in collaboration with Beyond Walls

Book in Dutch, recently published, ‘Banda – De genocide van Jan Pieterszoon Coen’ 

Book in Bahasa Indonesia, Rumah di Tanah Rempah - Penjelajahan Memaknai Rasa dan Aroma Indonesia by Nurdiansyah Dalidjo {also of Kain Kita}. More info on the book also in this video

Article 'The Hidden History of the Nutmeg Island That Was Traded for Manhattan'

* All photos are taken by me, otherwise it is credited!

- Feel free to drop must watch/reads in the comments below -