September 24, 2022

Holding Batik closer to our heart

Presenting 'Demystifying Batik Belanda' at ACM in Singapore
Photo by Rossman Ithnain

Me in Utama pants by Baju by Oniatta in front of Utama pants 
in the exhibition 'Batik Kita' taken by the designer herself Oniatta Effendi

In the bus to Kuala Lumpur while writing this. The last few days or actually the last few months flew by. So a post reflecting on before my travels and this last week, depending how far we get during this busride.
After my trips to Vienna & Edinburgh, I stayed in the Netherlands, being busy with Batik, as always, I am so lucky I can truly call this my main job. 

At the end of June I was part of a symposium/workshop at the University Utrecht, first time and was surprised my paper got selected. The full program ‘Tapestry of Rules: Institutions and Cloth Industries in Global Comparative Perspective, 1750-2000’ mostly dove into the economic part of textile trade & production. Manly graphs and numbers filled the slides. I was the only ‘artist’ on the program and my slides were all filled with images. Presented the zone ‘Fabric(s) of Leiden’ I created for Things That Talk on the Leidse cotton-printing company Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij. The feedback was really great, “you get to see the actual textiles”and everyone said that my photos were wonderful. So although this event wasn't strictly my field, my talk was welcomed with open arms. There were some great speakers & hope I can be part of this program by Textilelab in the near future again.

Paper Sarong workshop at MUZEE, looking together at the end results
Photo by Muzee Scheveningen/Sarah van Soldt

July was mostly filled with meet-up, preparing for Tong Tong Fair and meeting everyone before my filled August and being away in September. 
In August I gave three workshops, one Batik workshop at the beautiful Katoendrukkerij in Amersfoort and two workshops for the 15 August 1945 commemoration. Honoured to be asked to make a creative output for this, both in the form of a DIY and two workshops. I worked out the Paper Sarong concept I already did before, were people work together to make patterns, focussing more on the stories and don’t need to struggle with the difficult technique of Batik. 
The first I gave was at the cute museum MUZEE, 10 minutes from the sea in Scheveningen. It was a very hot day, but the workshop was still fully booked. After my introductions people started with trying out the oilpastel & watercolour on paper, before forming groups to make the sarong. Such nice pieces were made and more lovely, so many stories were shared. 
I gave the workshop again on 15 August at National Theater in Den Haag/The Hague, a bit more nervous, since the day is a heavy one for many. But the participants were really happy having this alternative, creating way to commemorate that day and it was such a lovely experience.

Paper Sarong workshop at Nationaal Theater, reflecting on the work will still painting


From 1 till 11 September the Tong Tong Fair was finally taking place again in Den Haag/The Hague. After May 2019, we were planned to be back with our Batik Stand; me, Romée Mulder and Myrthe Groot of Guave. But it was postponed 3 times. 
The concept of our Batik Stand was the same, only it would be bigger, better and more prominent. Our Batik Island as it was called by the organization was the first thing you see when entering! We couldn’t be more prominent. It was such a surprise, a dream come true. The main reason for organizing the Batik Stand was to bring real Batik back, to give it a stage again, and back it was!
The Batik Island was made up as half a circle, designed by Sabrina Luthjens with on the outside the exhibition ‘Batik makes the man’ which I curated together with Florine Koning after the concept of Leslie Boon. In the exhibition the development of batik worn by men from sarong to pants, and from pants to shirt was shown. With the question, or statement “The batik sleeping pants was an Indo-European invention worn strictly at home”, I started researching. I soon found out the Batik pants could be also found outside of the house, worn by European men while going on a picknick or at work. I also started finding photos of other local men wearing the pants. The pandemic time I spend going through archives and whenever I spotted a patterned trouser on a black and white photo I would save it. 
At the Tong Tong Fair we shared the first findings. What other questions they raise and that still need to be explored. But very happy that we could share this new perspective, or wider perspective on this history.
The open structure of the exhibition made people walk right in our shop, small expo on what Batik is and I had a chest with many batikbooks. We were there daily from 10am till 10pm. Almost every day we had a special guest like batikmaker, researcher, recently graduated students working with batik and even a chef. People could come to me with Batik they owned for consultation and bring a clothing item to the upcycle atelier by Guave. Both were used a lot, I saw so many lovely batiks and I will follow up for sure soon after my travels. Guave got more items to add Batik on then they had time for to do, amazing that we can bring this subtitle sustainable way of thinking about clothing in such a nice form. Also have to add credits to Ayla Pijman here to, the new member of Guave, who spend hours putting patches over stains and holes and adding pockets to often Fast Fashion items. 
I want to thank everyone who dropped by, for asking about Batik, browsing the books, make me sell out of my batik stock (amazing!), brought there precious batiks, the special guest; Sandra Niessen, Dido Michielsen, Yulia Pattopang, Pris Roos, Shuen-Li Spirit, Suzanne Liem/Batik Patron Ambarawa, Laurens Tan, Arlene Dwiasti, Maureen Tan and thank you to my dream team, the Guave ladies, up to the next adventure!

Your Batik Island hosts; me, Alya, Myrthe & Romée

Batik Consultation in the Batik Stand 
Amazing how many people used this service, thinking of doing it again in a separate event

Right after Tong Tong Fair, I was heading to Singapore. Feeling overwhelmed and unprepared I manage still to get everything done as good as I could, since my talks would be right after I arrived on Friday in the weekend. 
Was invited by Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) to give a talk as a continuation of getting my research ‘Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik’ out there. After my talk for the Facebook group ‘Batik Sayang’, I was lucky enough to share part of my research in Vienna & Edinburgh already. 
* People asking me where to read more of my research, or watch related talks. Please feel free to contact me & I can send previous articles by email to you. More articles are coming out/up, so I keep you updates on that too.

Presenting 'Demystifying Batik Belanda' at ACM in Singapore
Photo by Rossman Ithnain

Coastal batiks / Pesisiran in 'Batik Kita' at ACM

'Batik Kita' at ACM with view on Batik from Cirebon

After a direct flight, I arrived in the early evening. The next day was my talk at (in full) ACM. I went a little earlier so I could see the exhibition ‘Batik Kita’, were my talk ‘Demystifying Batik Belanda' was part of. After seeing briefly the wonderful museum, I headed toward the basement to give my talk. A little nervous at first, but so glad with all the familiar faces that turned up, I share some of the finding from my recent research ‘Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik’. After my talk there was some time for questions, and there were so many, so great and diverse. Someone asked if I used a computer program to make my matches of batiks on wearers. If someone invented it, please let me know. But I had to explains it is just hours going through digitale databases. Someone asked about how to recognized if a Batik has been worn and many questions on how we should deal with other mistakes that might be in Batik literature. Very happy to meet the new generation that is ready to dive into this history too. 

'Kawan Kita' at Galeri Toko Kita with host Tony Sugiarta

On Sunday I was the guest at Galeri Toko Kita to talk among Batik friends in the Kawan Kita talk series organised by Oniatta Effendi & Tony Sugiarta by aNERDgallery. In the beautiful shop, which is a true love letter to Batik, I got to tell more behind the scenes/screens on my journey to Batik. We got so wrapped up in a discussion on Fake Batik and why we all love Batik, I didn’t even share all my slides. I also finally got to shop a Baju by Oniatta piece, my own pair of Utama pants. Which I wore right away to ACM again on Wednesday when I got to see ‘Batik Kita’ and the rest of the museum. 
It was great to have two such different presentations, and so wonderful that people came to both. Feeling like am welcomed by a new Batik family here, I feel so lucky and honoured. Thank you al for coming, supporting my journey and for loving Batik. As Oniatta says it perfectly: “Jauh Dikenang Dekat Disayang. Holding batik closer to our hearts.”

Showing my Batik relate Art works during 'Kawan Kita' at Galeri Toko Kita

After the weekend filled with talks, I was lucky to spend the other days meeting friends, being a tourist and trying out all local foods. Singapore is really amazing, all the colourful houses, had to photograph every single one. The murals in the Chinese neighborhood to explain its history. The Museums, just saw the National Gallery and ACM collection, but they are already so good. Cannot wait to return and visit the others. 
How lucky I am being guided around this interesting city ~ Monday started of with a visit to the National Gallery together with Tony. I went a little earlier and found my self in the rooms showing works from the collection in a decolonized space. First display I saw was on Batik and the influence Dutch colonial rule had on it. Next room had several paintings by Raden Saleh. Being eye to eye with the tigers that in the past were eye to eye with our royal family! Another stunning piece of horseman, made me think of a bamboo hat I got to see from the Tropenmuseum collection to write a blogpost for Modemuze. Wonder the hat in the collection can actually be a noblemen hat…

Painting 'Six Horsemen Chasing Deer' by Raden Saleh from 1860
At National Gallery Singapore

Raden Sarah's 'Boschbrand (Forest Fire)' from 1849
At National Gallery Singapore

The exhibition I had to see was on Aboriginal Art, ‘Ever Present: First people Art of Australia’. I knew it included Batiks from Utopia, but it had also paintings and batik by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, such an inspiration (see previous blogpost 'London Baby'). A great show, a must visit if you can. It shows the development of Aboriginal Art in 4 spaces, from early acrylic painting to more political statement pieces. 
On Monday evening Eunice organised an amazing dinner to meet Batik friends with amazing Indian food.

Detail of Batik by Emily Kame Kngwarreye
in the exhibition ‘Ever Present: First people Art of Australia'
At National Gallery Singapore

Batik on cloth 'Mother and Child' by Chuah Then Teng, c. 1950s,
At National Gallery Singapore

Tuesday I got a tour of city by the perfect tourguide Eeling. We met in Utrecht, when I gave her and Eunice a tour. Was so happy we got to spend the day to explore the Chinese, Indian & Peranakan Chinese neighborhood and all the yummy food that goes with it. Saw so many houses I would love to live in, so colourful and stunning. 

Mural in Chinese neighbourhood
Writing a letter to Koen 
Photo by Eeling Koh

Colourful houses of Singapore

On Wednesday I could join the tour with Oniatta through Batik Kita with nice stories by our tourguide Hafiz Rashid. The exhibition is stunning. The batiks are displayed in full length, 3 above each other. It made it a little hard to see details on the pieces on top, but it was very nice how the different styles/areas/times were shown three pieces at a time. Next to the full batiks, there was much room for batik fashion. A section showed wearers from Singapore, from the flight attendance uniforms in the past, to nowadays well known batik wearers. The other ‘stages’ showed different designers, which included the Utama pants by Oniatta. So great to own & wear a piece that is on display! 
There is a catalog in the making, so keep you posted when it is out!

Next to Batik Kita, got invited to lunch by Jackie Yoong and she showed me the Fashion and Textiles space at ACM ~ A recently acquired 18th century English traditional dress made from painted cotton from India was the highlight in the room, next to sarong from three generations of the Nio family paired with kebaya ~  of which one was from the former Museum Nusantara collection. 
After lunch I walked around ACM again to see the Batik Besurek in the Islamic Art. I used this object in my talk since it is actually an imitation, most likely made in the Netherlands. It therefor is a real ‘Batik Belanda’ { > read/hear more about how Batik Belanda was the local name on Java for imitations from Europe in the 19th & 20th century in this story/YouTube video/instagram post}
We bumped into Chor Lin Lee, curator of Batik Kita at ACM, who was the one inviting me for the talk ~ happy I could finally meet Chor Lin in person, the author of the first Batik book I bought and cannot wait for the next one.

Thursday I got to meet textile collector, curator and writer Peter Lee. It is so amazing to meet so many people during this trip that I admired from afar for so long. Got to see some extraordinary pieces from Peter’s collection and an open invite to browse through more when I return to Singapore.  

Will return to Singapore for sure, still many people to meet & many to revisit. 
Thank you all for the warm welcome & looking forward seeing you online, 
in person or somewhere in the world!

Colourful house in Little India
in Singapore

July 9, 2022

Haste Ye Back - Batiks and more in Edinburgh

Lisa Mason & Emily Taylor unpacking a Batik Sarong in the depot


Reflecting in the Paisley display at National Museum of Scotland

End of May I was in Edinburgh in Scotland. It was my first time in Scotland and first flight since 2019. Don't want to stand to long still at the drama at the airport, but it was challenging and it left a strange cloud over my visit. My visit was absolutely wonderful, so time for a post! 
I was happily surprised be in such a warm hearted welcoming city. I managed somehow to be indoors every time rain came pouring down, which was lucky since I arrived without my luggage, to continue my route in sunshine.
I was not just visiting Edinburgh, I was invited to be part of the The Association of Dress Historians Annual New Research Conference 2022 for their New Research in Dress History Conference held at National Museum of Scotland. Before my visit, I reached out to multiple people, hoping I could maybe get a paid gig somewhere to pay for my travels. As an independent researcher I found out it seems to be impossible to get any funding, either you need to be a (PhD) student or the instituut/museum you work at pays for it....My father actually sponsored this trip, thank you so much!, making it possible for me to give my talk in person, yeah, next to exploring the city and visiting the depot.  


Visit to the National Museums Collection Centre



Through my reaching out to people, I learned the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) actually has a Batik collection. I knew through the amazing project ‘Colouring the Nation’ {look up this projectsblog, it is amazing} that the museum hold many samplebooks from the flourish cottonprinting days. One of the researchers of this project informed me  that some of the samplebooks kept at NMS also contained pieces of Batik. Informing about this at the museum, I got told there were also Batiks, fragments and full cloths. I was invited to come and take a lot. Because the Batik collection hadn't been explored much and current privacy restrictions prevent from sharing names of donators, I had to make a selection from a Excel sheet with just a very short description, a location, sometimes a region/city, dates and inventory numbers of which I figured out they corresponded with the data of entering the collection. From the Assistant Curator Southeast Asia I also received any photos they had of the Batiks, which was mostly partial details. I decided to select the batiks that seemed the oldest, had no photographs and sounded useful for my research. Everyone was super busy at the museum, so eventually I got a planned in for two hours on Wednesday morning. 

I arrived on Monday, late, happy I had the Tuesday to find my way in the city and to buy a new wardrobe { welcome to provide you with a personal rant hehehe}. So the next day, I was ready to go to the depot. I took the bus to the depot of NMS, a little outside of the city. I arrived at a kind of industry plot and realised how interesting it is we keep these pieces at such ugly locations in a way when they are not on display. But they are probably the safest. Welcomed by Emily Taylor, Assistant Curator European Decorative Arts and organiser of the Dress Historian Conference, and Lisa Mason, Assistant Curator Modern & Contemporary Design, I felt honoured they freed up time in their very full schedules just so I could see these Batiks and have a glimpse at the samplebooks. 
I really saw the Batiks fast and was glad I got some extra time after with the samplebooks, but couldn't see all the Batiks I had on my list. Happy with the ones I did get to see and exciting to learn more about them on a later moment in time since there is still some info I hope to get about collectors and donators. As I mentioned, I made the selection based on limited data, but it were great pieces we got to see. On some I found a signature which will make it easier to get more info on the pieces later, but most were unsigned, even the newer, very fine, synthetic coloured ones, like the one below, inventory number A.1982.105. This one has such a beautiful design of a buketan motif repeating with fighting birds. The colours and very fine isen-isen are stunning. A design that if you make this today will surely be very populair. 

Sarong inventory number A.1982.105

Taking the Prada covered Kain panjang in

Another piece I would like to highlight in this post is a stunning Sogan coloured Batik decorated with Prada, inventory number A.1984.319. I never saw a Batik like this before and it made me really curious. 
When unrolling the Batik it turned out one side was completly complimented with gold decorations, what is called Prada. Prada can be found more commonly on Batik Pesisir, Northcoast Batiks either with Laseman or more Indian inspired motifs. This Batik is in a sense Indian inspired in motif, the repeating motifs refer to woven patterns, but the colour is classic Batik Keraton from Yogya. The very finely made Kain Panjang is covered fully with gold. Normally an edge on-top will be left uncovered, since the gold will get damaged there easily when wearing. The Batik was however designed to be worn since the other side of the Batik has a gold part too. This part is just big enough to pleat the fabric, 'diwru', at the front when wearing it, the royal way. A fascinating piece that maybe reveals its story in the future!

Detail of inventory number A.1984.319

Back side of inventory number A.1984.319 with gold decorated part for 'wiron'

Unrolling A.1883.65 

In my previous post I wrote about how batiks are stored differently on different locations. At NMS the Batik were kept on big roles together. A great way of storing multiple textiles, saving space while making sure they get no (extra) creases, but a more time consuming methode when you want to take a look. Some where already lead out, but at the end we couldn't see some because they were somewhere on a roll with many more. With my left over time, we choose to see the oldest ones. Based on the inventorynumber, A.1883.65 & A.1883.65 A, I figured this might be from 1883 and maybe would have a connection to the World colonial exhibition held in Amsterdam in that same year. They didn't, but were specifically bought for the museum. These very rough Batiks reminded me of samples I saw books of the Dutch cottonprinters. At first the colours look like those of Tanah Abang/Karet Batiks from the same time, but those Batik are much finer and more detailed. So maybe this unaware buyer got sold really rough pieces, or there were made elsewhere that didn't reach this fine quality yet...The colours however are still very bright. Both had an original old rond label with both the same info: 'Edinburgh Museum of Science & Art, 1883, Industrial Art, NO 65'. Both were also sown together as sarong with one fun difference, one being carefully hand sown while the other was machine stitch with multiple gabs in the thread. 
In the digital database was noted it was a gift from 'A.S. Cumming'. After some googeling I think it could be Admiral Sir Arthur Cumming KCB (1817 – 1893) who was an officer of the Royal Navy. Wiki provides the following info: 'Cumming achieved flag rank on 27 February 1870 when he was promoted to rear-admiral. He served for a while as a port admiral before becoming the Naval Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies in 1872. He remained in the East Indies until March 1875 and was promoted to vice-admiral on 22 March 1876. Cumming's promotion to admiral came on 9 January 1880 and he retired from the service on 6 April 1882. After retirement he lived mainly at Foston Hall, near Derby.'
So it could be possible these Batik were collected by this Cumming during his time in the 'Indies' and were donated when he retired and was back in England. But I also understood this name is very common, so maybe it is not him at all. But if he was, the Batiks date from before 1875...

Detail of A.1883.65 

Samples in Samplebook

Last I could check out during my depot visit were two sample books, one deconstructed factory sample book and one from the cotton printing company Alexandria that look more for the customer side of things. Just flipping through the pages and seeing next to the Turkey red samples, the cotton printing compagnies in Scotland got rich with, samples that look like Batik, Wax Print and copies very similar to the fakes from the Netherlands. Honestly I wish I could dive into these books and this interesting cotton printing history so much further. But it was great to have a little preview ;) and to discover more in the museum the following days.

Alexandria Samplebook

Samples in Samplebook


National Museum of Scotland




Thursday afternoon we got a curator tour at one of the museums, and I choose Dovecot studios since they had an exhibition on the Wallpapers by Morris & Co. So in the morning I headed first to NMS. When I entered I was so happy I didn't go the day before after my depot visit. This museum is HUGE! So huge, I missed an entire wing that I checked out in between talks the next day.
The museum is housed in an architectural marvel that also function as a time-portal wondering why visitors aren't wearing queue de Paris and high hats. Every flour of the 3 flours is divided in large rooms tackling different subjects displaying many objects. The building feels colonial and every room tries harder then the next to deal with this history. 
It was interesting again to see how museums abroad deal with it. While I appreciated it, it still felt very incomplete/one sided (why not add Europe if you display all continents in one room in single display cabinets and see why this isn't right) and it is just a lot. To not dwell on this too much for now, I wanted to share some highlights from what was on display.

'Shababik Birds 1' by Ibrahim Said, 2016

I spotted these plates 
and learned from the description these were being produced in Scotland 
for the Malay market. During the 19th century Scottish potteries exported huge quantities of
earthenware to Southeast Asia. J&MP Bell in Glasgow developed specific
designs with Malayan pattern names to cater for this export market.
They were given names like ‘Burung kupu’ & ‘Tarlulu bagus’. 
How fascinating!

'Summer' by Margaret Macdonald MackIntosh

Art Nouveau Cabinet from Oak, inlaid with marquetry, metal and mother of
pearl, ormolu mounts, designed by Louis Majorelle
Nancy, France, c1900

The wing I missed the first time was all about industry 
with much on the several textile industies

Paisley from Paisley
'From roughly 1800 to 1850, the weavers of the town of Paisley in Renfrewshire, Scotland, became the foremost producers of Paisley shawls. Unique additions to their hand-looms and Jacquard looms allowed them to work in five colours when most weavers were producing paisley using only two.[19] The design became known as the Paisley pattern. By 1860, Paisley could produce shawls with 15 colours, which was still only a quarter of the colors in the multicolour paisleys then still being imported from Kashmir.'


Display on Turkey Red


The Art of Wallpaper - Morris & Co. at Dovecot Studios



As I mentioned before as part of the conference program we could select a curator lead tour in one of the museums. I selected the tour through the exhibition 'The Art of Wallpaper - Morris & Co' because I love wallpaper and I love William Morris, but I honestly forgot how much I wallpaper & William Morris. The exhibition based, made after the briljant publication with the same title showcased original wallpaper pieces from Morris & Co, the first ones designed by William Morris himself, all other designers and earlier wallpaper that might have influenced Morris work. 
It brought me back to my early Artdays, making meters of hand-stamped patterns on wallpaper for installations. I enjoyed this exhibition so much and it was so great to get the tour by curator Jane Carey sharing all the great details and insights. I could write another blogpost just on this exhibition, but will just share some photos below and advice you to buy the book, it is a great publication with a lot of information and nice big prints of the wallpapers, a must have for any fan of Morris!

Curator Jane Carey pointing out a nice detail, a handwritten note on production






As I said, there is much more to share and tell about this adventure and inspiring trip, and of course I also gave a talk. I would like to turn my talk 'A Batik collection fit for a Lady' into an article for The Journal of Dress History, so in the near future more news on that.
For now, hope you enjoyed my post on Edinburgh, sampai jumpa!

May 20, 2022

Gruss aus Wien

Looking together at the Little Red Riding Hood, photo by Klaus Rink

Giving my talk at the Weltmuseum, photo by Klaus Rink

On the 3th of May I was welcomed in Vienna in Austria to give a talk on my research project 'Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European on Batik' and to see the Batik collection kept at the Weltmuseum. It is such an honour to be invited, especially by textile friends as Klaus Rink and Jani Kuhnt.
Since I am preparing my next visit for a talk, I wanted to make first a post on my adventures in Vienna. As always I left with more then I came. I was so inspired, surprised and felt really spoiled. It was my first time traveling abroad since the pandemic. The train ride through the changing landscape from flatland, to hills with yellow field, to snow covered mountains in the distance was wonderful to experience.
I was lucky I had Klaus Rink to guide me around and picking me up at the station. The next morning we met at the Weltmuseum. My talk was in the evening, but first we got to dive into the collection.

Julia Zeindl, Reinhard Blumauer, Klaus Rink and Barbara Pönighaus-Matuella

I made a selection before I went. Everyone at the museum was really busy preparing for a new exhibition that would be build up te next day, still there was time made for me to see the Batiks I requested. Most Batiks they have, they told me, would be on display. In 2015 curator Jani Kuhnt made a selection from the collection to create a huge display in the museum. The display has been up since 2017. Still there were many beauties for me to look at.
I was welcomed together with Klaus at the textile conservation department by Reinhard Blumauer, Barbara Pönighaus-Matuella and Julia Zeindl. Conservator Barbara had suggested I grouped the Batiks in a favourite, group A, and less favourite, group B, and we would just see how far we got.

Being in a depot outside of the Netherlands, it was interesting to see how the Batiks were handled, or not just handled, also kept. In the Netherlands the Batiks are kept preferable on roles, multiple batiks, diveded with acid free paper. If they cannot be kept on roles, because it takes a lot of space, they are kept in boxes, again acid free, folded with acid free paper between each batik. 
In the Weltmuseum most Batiks are kept in boxes too, but they do not fold, not exactly, the batiks are kept loosely, roled in a way, so no new creases are made. This methode is time-consuming, to get the batiks out almost all items need to get out of the box. But a big plus is that the batiks are nice and flat. Another trick I saw, is that in the box, covering all the Batiks, is a big cloth of unbleached cotton. Barbara explained it is to keep the Batiks from shifting in the box, but it is also a good way of spotting any unwelcome guests. Bugs (or mold, help!) can be easily spotted on the white cotton.



As mentioned before I made a selection, based on limited info and small parcel pictures. The result did not disappointed at all. I am just sharing some photos me & Klaus took. I hope I can address some of pieces I saw in later writings, so for now just some eye-candy.
I was very happy to see a Little Red Riding Hood batik up-close again. This one is signed 'N(on)y(a) Oiy King Liem, Kedoeng Woeni 5'. The piece was donated by the same collector as who donated 3 beautiful and fascinating batiks signed 'Oei Khing Liem'. While the name/batikworkshop Oei Khing Liem is well-known, I wander if the Little Red Riding Hood is signed wrongly, on purpose, to pass for being one by Oei Khing Liem. 
Whatever the explanation wil turn out to be for the signature, the piece itself is stunning, odd, yet great. It is a Kain Panjang, so has no Kepala. The edges are decorated with a bright, probably synthetic red that seemed to be added at the very end. Little Red Riding Hood is recognisable from her predecessor on Batik with a decorated skirt/apron in dark blue and licht blue and a red cap. Her face is added by pen it seems, with sometimes missing pupils. The wolf is transformed into a guard lion, something you see this in later versions. The more the makers got removed from the original illustration, the more the wolf got replaced by something local, something the pembatiks would know, in this case a Chinese style guard lion. The empty tree is decorated with flowers, because an empty tree is just wrong in the tropics {except Teak who can loose its leaves in draught}.
The fusion between East & West is made even more clear by the filling motif, the isen-isen. It is made in a delicate, precise Sogan. The blue was dyed first on this Batik, and was overdyed in brown, creating a dark blue in the process. Not a typical colour for the Northcoast, and not a usual first step. The isen-isen itself is 'Tikar', or bamboo mat, the ones used often in houses for the wall. This is a very classic Javanese motif. Commonly Little Red Riding Hood is placed on a blanc background. 
So a great piece of which over time I hope to learn more.


The Weltmuseum collection doesn't only hold great full size cloths, it also has smaller pieces, parts of sarongs and very damaged ones. It is great to see these pieces are kept with as much care as the more perfect ones. It was also refreshing to hear displaying damaged pieces is not seen as something impossible. Where Batiks in the Netherlands are hardly on display and only perfect conditioned ones make it to the public eyes, Barbara said she sees it as her job as a conservator to make every display possible. 
The Batiks are labelled with a small cord with a number. If older labels or stickers are on the textiles, they are kept on the textile too. In the museum the labels return too. Where in the Netherlands any sign of a label, whether it is by the museum or from previous owners or of historical interest, they are hidden from the public view. In Weltmuseum the labels are as much on display as the objects. I think it is great that they show this side of the objects too, their history being part of an collection.



Label on textile in the Weltmuseum

Another signed pieces that left an impression was this one signed with simply 'Marjam'. Since I posted this Batik in my insta stories too, another 'Marjam' in the same colours and with the same elongated beaked bird came on my path. Maybe more 'Marjam' Batiks are out there, who knows, will be looking out for them. This one is made in Cap and Tulis, so a 'Kombinasi'. The purple and blue colours get really fashionable in Batik around 1920-1930's. It is actually one of my favourite colourcombinations and I have many new Batiks from Lasem like this.

Batik signed 'Marjam'


The last piece I share here came actually from the Netherlands. It was in the former Museum Nusantara collection. It wasn't on the list I got from the Weltmuseum, but I knew from the Nusantara collection site it ended up here. This fragile, very damaged beauty is a great piece of more modern Batik history. Signed by 'Gan Tji­oe Liam' from Pekalongan, of the Gan Family, of whom I was recently with a descendent in a talk, Ibu Indrawati Gondowinoto. 


After many Batiks and a really great shared lunchbreak, we also headed together to the batik filled room in the Weltmuseum. In 2015 Jani Kuhnt did an deep dive into the batikcollection of the Weltmuseum and invited my batikmentor, batikexpert Pak William Kwam & Museum Tekstil Jakarta textile conservator Mas Benny Gratha to examine all the batiks. The selection and info are on display in a big collage since 2017. 
The room is really dark, which it ahs to be to preserve the batiks and they are layered over eachother, so  it is not the best way to view them. I got to see them with a flashlight, which was fun and also very helpful. I added here below two photos of the same Batik. This Sogan coloured sarong is the oldest in the collection, as in the oldest to enter the collection. It was apparently bought during an expedition to Indonesia and bought back from Java in 1860. The original label is attached. With the flashlight I got to see beautiful dark blue tumpals and a fine, crackle brown coloured pattern. But vistors see what you see on the first photo. The display is far from perfect, but it is currently one of the bigger displays of Batiks in any European museum as far as I know. 



In the room with the Batiks was also a huge painting by Raden Saleh. Impressive to see, although a littel dark to see well. The painting from around 1870 is explained to be showing colonial rule, the museum says perhaps the British and the Dutch as the tigers, attacking the Javanese man and each other.
I also got to see the exhibition 'Silk Roads' that had it last day that day. Filled with batiks, I had little room to see more, but I hope I can return in the not so far away future to explore the Weltmuseum further.

'Two tigers fight over a dead Javanese' by Raden Saleh

Relief tiles, Kashan, c. 1308 at 'Silk Roads'

Ikats from Uzbekistan  at 'Silk Roads'

New ikats from Uzbekistan  at 'Silk Roads', design by Dilyara Kaipova

Teapots at 'Silk Roads'

Day 2 in Wien


I only been to Vienna once before. It was there when I was 15 or 16 years old on our way for our exchange in Budapest in Hungary. We were there for maybe an hour, took a photo in front of the palace and drove through the city. I remember seeing this golden roof, it got imprinted in my mind. I had no wishes or pre-made plans what I wanted to see thsi time, but I knew I had to see this building again. Before I went I looked it up and turned out the building I saw is the Wienner Secession

- The Vienna Secession (German: Wiener Secession; also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, or Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs) is an art movement, closely related to Art Nouveau, that was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian painters, graphic artists, sculptors and architects, including Josef Hoffman, Koloman Moser, Otto Wagner and Gustav Klimt. They resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists in protest against its support for more traditional artistic styles. Their most influential architectural work was the Secession Building designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich as a venue for expositions of the group. Their official magazine was called Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring, in Latin), which published highly stylised and influential works of graphic art. In 1905 the group itself split, when some of the most prominent members, including Klimt, Wagner, and Hoffmann, resigned in a dispute over priorities, but it continued to function, and still functions today,[when?] from its headquarters in the Secession Building. In its current[when?] form, the Secession exhibition gallery is independently led and managed by artists.
    - Wikipedia

When I was young(er), I was pretty obsessed with Klimt's work, the movbement he was part of and it sparked my wish to study Art. At the Art Academy Klimt was not done, the whole of Art Nouveau actually nor any other thing I liked for that matter. I couldn't understand why Klimt was seen as bad, or I think they preferred calling it "decorative Art", so kept my appreciation for his Art and that of his peers to myself mostly.
That so many years later I am back at this building, a place where today Art is still celebrated, after seeing & sharing about Batiks, doing my own thing, finally, felt like a full circle kind of moment. 



Klaus was my guide for the day, thank you so much, and he had a surprise for me in store. He told me that about puppets with batiks on at the Theatermuseum I could see. When we arrived, the museum was closed that day, but we were welcomed by Angela Sixt, Curator and restorator at the Theatermuseum. The building itself is already stunning and following Klaus and Angela I had no idea what we were going to look at until we entered the room dedicated to puppeteer Richard Teschner:

Richard Teschner, (born March 22, 1879, Carlsbad, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary—died July 4, 1948, Vienna, Austria), puppeteer who developed the artistic potentialities of the Javanese rod puppet for western puppet theatre.
Teschner studied art in Prague and was already an accomplished puppeteer and stage designer when, in 1906, he established his own marionette company in Prague. Five years later, while travelling in the Netherlands, he became interested in the rod-puppet figures brought by Dutch explorers from Java. Returning to Vienna, he opened a small rod-puppet theatre called Figuren Spiegel (Figure Mirror). Teschner variations on the Javanese figure resulted in such figures as the woman whose chalk-white face changes into a skull and the gorilla whose lower and upper lips retract to bare fangs. The puppets were controlled by a central rod and had a network of internal strings to manipulate hand and leg movements, bending to the front or back, and sensitive facial expressions.

Starring at the puppets Teschner made, I was just amazed. He made the puppets based on the Wayang Golek. We had two in our staircase growing-up so I know them very well up-close. But Teschner not just based it on, he altered them to fit his needs. He added legs, which Wayang Golek never have. Made the head movable and added decorations that were local, like a headdress based on (Russian?) pianted eggs and the batik was replaced by a textile by Wiener Werkstätte.


I got better why I was here. We moved to a display, a small golden stage showing two figures insight. Angela said, "this is the story of Mata Hari". On which I replied "You mean My, our Dutch Mata Hari?"

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle-MacLeod (7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917), better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War I. She was executed by firing squad in France. 
At 18, Margaretha answered an advertisement in a Dutch newspaper placed by Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod (1856–1928), who was living in what was then the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and was looking for a wife. Zelle married MacLeod in Amsterdam on 11 July 1895. The marriage enabled Zelle to move into the Dutch upper class and placed her finances on a sound footing(...) In 1903, Zelle moved to Paris, where she performed as a circus horse rider using the name Lady MacLeod, much to the disapproval of the Dutch MacLeods. Struggling to earn a living, she also posed as an artist's model. By 1904, Mata Hari began to rise to prominence as an exotic dancer. She was a contemporary of dancers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, leaders in the early modern dance movement, which around the turn of the 20th century looked to Asia and Egypt for artistic inspiration. Gabriel Astruc became her personal booking agent.
-Wikipedia

Turned out Teschner saw Mata Hari perform, later read the biography about her and made a piece about it. A very grown-up story and puppeteering was not for kids at all as Angela explained. In Vienna it was used as protest, as a way of mocking or addressing actions in politics. To discredit the puppeteers, it is thought people started saying it was for Kids. Now we think of puppeteering as a kid-focussed, kid-friendly entertainment, but it was actually a way of sharing criticism among adults.


Back to Mata Hari. We entered the room were the theater, his theater the Figuren Spiegel is. In display cabinets are his puppets next to the ones that started his fascination, the original Wayang Golek he bought in The Hague in The Netherlands. Both the old ones as his made ones are all so great. I loved all the Wiener Werkstätte fabrics and made a mental note I had to dive into this further, didn't they make Batik too...?



Angela noticed my enthusiasm and invited me to see one more thing. I think my head just about didn't exploded. "There is a second Mata Hari"she said. She removed a cloth and two puppets appeared. She took Mata Hari and moved her towards us. Angela Sixt brought Mata Hari to life right before our eyes. The hands moved across her body while her face tilted gently looking as if she was looking around the room. I filmed this encounter and have been sharing it with everyone who crosses my path, including strangers on the train back home.
The second figure is called 'The Prince'. In the story Mata Hari's lover. He reminded me of Raden Saleh in a way, also because of the name. Raden Saleh dressed so over the top while traveling in Europe, men gave him the nickname 'The Prince' while their wives flocked around him. He left many broken hearts apparently. Seeing Mata Hari and her prince make me think of this. Don't know if there is actually an connection, but certainly something I will explore further. 
It is hard to explain how inspiring all of this was, but it really was and I still am fascinated by it. I also wondered why I never heard of it before. 
So I want to thank Klaus again for this, the warm welcome, the tour through Vienna and this amazing visit to Angela's domain on Richard Teschner!

Angela Sixt with Mata Hari & The Prince


Additional comment/notes by curator Angela Sixt:

"Thank you dear Sabine for your wonderful story. I am very happy that you feel so inspired, it was a great pleasure for me to have you there and I also got some new input. 
Some details you mentioned are not yet proofed. It is proofed that Mata Hari was performing in Vienna at the Apollo Theatre in the early 20th century, but I still have to do some research if Teschner really saw her dancing. Teschner named his puppet "princess" or "naked princess" in his very detailed sketches but he never named the puppet "Mata Hari". What I found out is that the first princess (1913) of the play "princess and waterman" looks like the real "Mata Hari" and the second one (1936) looks like Greta Garbo dancing an indian/javanese "veil dance" in the style of "Mata Hari"  in the film "wild orchids" 1929. She is wearing a very similar costume. Greta Garbo was also playing "Mata Hari" just 2 years later at the so called movie. Teschner very often made portrait puppets of famous people especially from the cultural scene and let them perform on his stage in his fairy tales, which he wrote himself. But he never explained them.  And if someone is diving into his work, there is always something or someone to discover. It is a wonderful example how art can be inspired by another form of art, in this case dancers and actors are inspiring the puppetry. 
All the best for you and greetings from Vienna"