February 29, 2024

Last part of our Batik journey

Dewi Sri Batik at Batik Winotosastro

Returning home I got to dive into several projects, which is great, but it left little time to catch up on my blog. Still would like to share the last part of the batik journey together with Koen, so ayo, let’s go!

On Monday 4 December 2023 me and Koen headed to the old city, Kota Lama, of Semarang. I wanted to visit some locations connected to other research I am doing and was curious how the city transformed further. It is interesting to see how the city deals with these colonial buildings and the history that goes with it. Although more and more buildings are being saved from collapsing over time, there is no information signs or anything like that anywhere. It might be helpful to give more context to these places. I heard it is very populair to visit and since information is available online, maybe the buildings can just be in the now and find a new purpose without always directly needing to know the past during the present. 

Renovated, next to not yet renovated, in Kota Lama of Semarang

H. Spiegel in 2011, photo from the blog ‘a Walk in Semarang

Spiegel currently, 2023, the H is no longer present after the renovation 

At the second-hand store in Kota Lama of Semarang

My favourite part of revisiting the old city center was the big second-hand store right behind the church. Stalls filled with plates, lamps and nicknacks that wouldn’t look out of place in a similar store in the Netherlands. Many of the stalls sold old money, notes and coins. I had on my wish-list the banknote with a batikmaker on it. After going through several collections, I was ready to give up. I found on booklet from a batik festival held in 2005 in Pekalongan. Most names mentioned as being active in the “scene” are still dominating the field. When paying for it, the man pointed to the stall next to his, saying “more money”. I saw the folder and flipped through it. Couldn’t believe my luck, a little damaged and something written on it, but the ‘lima rupiah’ note from 1958 I was looking for was there. 

Lima rupiah note from 1958 & booklet from 2005, for my batik history collection

Koen posing in our hotel in Yogya next to the pembatik statue

The next day we headed to Yogyakarta. It has been a while since I was there. The last time was in 2019 and I only stayed on night. For sharing with Koen places important for my journey to Batik we had to visit this city and since Tony was staying there also it was great to go here next. 
After switching hotels in the middle of the night ~ that was less fun ~ we woke up in the formerly ‘Batik hotel’ which still had traces everywhere of this theme, in the form of curtains, coffee cups, even a statue of a pembatik and much more. 
In the morning on 6 December we headed to Taman Sari, the Water castle, not only a place that is a touristic must, but also {one of the places} where I learned to make Batik. In 2009 I followed a Batik course by Pak Hadjir, right next to the entrance of Taman Sari. As early as the seventies Pak Hadjir taught many foreigners to make Batik, including Rudolf Smend
His workshop is no longer, but it was still so great to show this spot to Koen. Inside Taman Sari we got the local de-tour-tourist-trap tour which included kopi luwak {or shit coffee} and several attempts to get us into a batikshop “of a friend”. 

Getting lost at Taman Sari

With Mas Tony & Mbak Putri in Yogyakarta

After our visit we went to meet Tony and Putri. She happened to be in Jogja for the filmfestival, so we got to see her too. She documented my openingsweekend ~ footage I will share at a later moment ~ and I hope we can work more together in the near future. After a lovely lunch with a croque Nyonya, we headed to visit Batik Winotosastro. 
Batik Winotosastro was the very first place I really learned about making batik. It was just days after my arrival in 2009 that I followed a workshop there under the guidance of Hani, which I found out must later is the boss of Batik Winotosastro. Next to enjoying the beautiful set-up batik space, we shopped, or I shopped. Two great batik pants and a Dewi Sri {goddess of fertility, creativity and rice} batik artwork! I always wanted a Dewi Sri, and having a batik version is just perfect. Although the large one on display was all our favourite, the smaller one was a little more affordable. 

Drawing the design onto cotton at Batik Winotosastro

Pembatik at work at Batik Winotosastro

Batik Cap being made at Batik Winotosastro

We also visited Lemari Lila, finally! It was on my wish list for so long. Her collaborations with Sekar Kawung and Jivaloka are great, inspiring and really what the textile world needs! Bought nothing myself this time, but Koen picked out an amazing blouse made from Batik Tuban. it reminds me of the wonderful research of Renske Heringa and the need to finally visit Tuban myself. Hopefully next time when I return to Java. 

From the Lemari Lila x Sekar Kawung collab

It was so nice to spend a day in Yogya with Koen, Tony and Putri. Have a little walk down memory lane reminiscences the very start of my journey to batik.

The next day, on 7 December, we went to Surakarta (Solo) for only one afternoon basically. It was actually such a nice visit and I never stayed in Solo before.
I really wanted to show Koen Museum Danar Hadi, that has been in many ways the starting point for the research I am doing.
We checked in to the Roemahkoe Heritage Hotel. This hotel was originally build in 1938 as a house by a wealthy batik merchant. A big house in Art Deco style with a secret back door leading right into Batik Laweyan, the batik neighborhood. It was turned into a hotel keeping the style of the building and beautiful details. If the hidden door remained we did not asked (yet).

Roemahkoe Heritage Hotel

After checking in, we rushed to the kraton. At the Mangkunegaran Palace was an exhibition on ‘Batik Keratanan’ {royal batik} and not just royal batik but specific motifs created by members of the royal family in Surakarta. I think it was the first time such a specific exhibition has been done at a kraton. I thought I missed it, but it turned out it got extended, after Tony was there a week earlier with his Batiktour. The exhibition showcased designs made by the royal family, so queens, princesses and even concubines. I never been a big Sogan fan {brown coloured batiks}, but I must say this exhibition might have changed my mind. There were stunning pieces on loan too from Iwan Tirta, including a huge Dodot Ageng {a ceremonial cloth used by dancers}. I loved that it is displaced like the ‘Tiga Negeri’ installation in my exhibition. The palace itself is stunning too, with a big greenhouse in the garden. It was already closing up when we finished looking at the exhibition, so we had no time to see the rest of the palace.

Dodot by Iwan Tirta at the Mangkunegaran Palace

One of the batikmakers from the royal family

Design by Iwan Tirta for the royal family

Batik exhibition at the Mangkunegaran Palace

We headed to Museum Danar Hadi. Wanted to meet curator Asti, but she had too many meetings that day. To our surprise she still came to meet us when we walked towards the entrance.  
We got a tour by Mbak Mutiara, in between Mas Gigih, also an excellent museumguide, dropped by to say hello. So nice to see him again. It was good to see again pieces that are part of my research and batiks of which I still need to {re~}tell their story. Mbak Mutiara has also questions for me, mostly fact checking things she heard from other researchers, which I loved. After the tour we met with Mbka Asti. So happy we got to see her and her team. They do great work maintaining an very important Batik collection! 
Our stay in Solo was too short, but so lovely. So I will plan a longer stay for next visit for sure, because I love to explore the Batik related heritages sites.

With curator Asti at Museum Danar Hadi

Are last stop before returning back to Jakarta to fly home, was the long awaited visit to Lasem. Koen was lucky to already meet Ibu Ramini and Mbak Tasya when he just arrived, but now we got to visit the places I probably talk about the most.
Although Lasem can be a stressful place too with many outsiders pushing many agendas, the people actually from this small city are always very welcoming. 
Taking Koen here was extra special. Taking him to the place it truly started. In 2009 I visited the batikworkshop KUB Srikandi for the first time and that visit marked  a > what I think will be a life long < love for Batik. Ibu Ramini asked us why we would spend our time going to a small desa like Jeruk, but it is these places that inspire me the most. Our visit was also practical since Ibu Ramini and her sister Ibu Juwariyah now have Instagram accounts thanks to Mbak tasya >>> Go follow them at @raminisrikandi & @juwariyahjeruk❣️

Koen posing next to the batiks on display at Batikworkshop Srikandi

Next to going to desa Jeruk got to spend precious time with Mbak Eka and Mbak Tasya. We were welcome every day at Mbak Eka’s home, the beautiful place that also houses her Batikworkshop Lumintu. We were spoiled by her so much. We had so much jummy food, also because they were afraid I would get sick again, but honestly we are missing the meals still every day. And it is not just the food. It is talking with Mbak Eka and Mbak Tasya, the moments with the pembatiks. 
I promised the year before I would cook for them all. Koen brought pasta with him, olive-oil and Italian spices, the rest we bought in Lasem. After everyone finally let me alone in the kitchen, except for Koen help that I needed, we made an Italian lunch for the pembatiks, Mbak Eka, Tasya and Ibu Ramini, Ibu Juwariyah and the grandchildren. Although it must have been kinda strange, they all tried the meal. I was just happy I got to make something, probably good for many stories at home, haha. 


Mbak Eka, Mbak Tasya, statue of Raden Adjeng Kartini, me & Koen 
at the Kartini Museum in Rembang

The Gawangan, batik frame of Kartini

Our last day in the Rembang region we made a little roadtrip. I really wanted to go to the Kartini Museum and asked Mbak Eka and Tasya to join us. We started making plans and made the plan to also visit Raden Adjeng Kartini’s final resting place. In the morning I bought a bag of very fresh nice smelling melati and roses. 
We first stopped at the Tjoe An Kiong temple, the former red, now bright pink Chinese temple. The insight is so stunning, so many ornaments to look at all with important meaning, not just as decoration. 
Next stop was the Kartini Museum. I went there once before in 2016. It hadn’t changed much and still the same batiks are on display that have nothing to do with her. We were standing next to the gawangan, a bamboo batik frame, allegedly used by Kartini herself. Mbak Eka asked about it, and our guide quickly stopped using it to lean on. We laughed a little about the situation. Although the frame might not be really hers, the locaton, a tiled veranda would be a perfect spot to make batik. 
After the museum we headed to Raden Adjeng Kartini’s final resting place. It is still a hour drive, but I was so glad I could pay my respects and thank Kartini for the inspiration and guidance she brings on my batik journey. Me and Mbak Eka prepared the flowers and I got a woven basket to put them in. I asked everyone to put some of the flowers on her grave. When it was my turn suddenly a tokeh started with his call. Normally tokeh’s call at night, but I experienced something similar when visiting the Sultan’s wife’s grave at Imogiri. I take it as a good sign and smiled while continuing with the flowers. 
Since I bought a lot the keeper of the graveyard ask me if I wanted to gift flowers to others. I asked where Kartini’s child was. A smaller grave, right outside the gated area were Kartini’s and her husband other wife were buried. In the end I also brought him flowers.
We ended our perfect day at the beach, enjoying the sunset from a higher up place. 
It was lovely to end our journey here. We have been home since before Christmas, but this journey, the exhibition and all the amazing events and meets still fill up my mind and heart. I feel very thankful for finally getting to share this with Koen and for sharing my journey to Batik in an exhibition! 

Raden Adjeng Kartini’s final resting place

Groupphoto with the pembatiks of Batikworkshop Lumintu, 
we also got one with us all looking at the camera

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