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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pasisir Batik Road - Cirebon - Masina Workshop

Outside H. Budiarno Masina's Batik & Antique Shop in Trusmi- Ian Reed, Ida Masina, Budi Masina & Self
[Photo-Anne Burgess]

H. Budiarno Masina (Budi), is the 5th generation of this famous batik family from the village of Trusmi, Cirebon.  Budi commenced batiking in 1980.  The workshop dates back to 1829.  Budi's mother was Ibu Masina who was an acclaimed batik artist.  The family's third generation batik makers were H. Mohammed Masina and his wife Bi Masio Narsibo.  The family received some of the sacred royal patterns of the court of Cirebon.
In BATIK- Fabled Cloth of Java published in 1984 by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., New York, Inger McCabe Elliott wrote- there are few north coast batikers these days who produce Cirebon batiks in tulis as well as the Masinas. 

Budi Masina with his son Hadiyono [Photo-Ian Reed]

Cirebon is situated on the north coast of Java, on the border between West and Central Java.  It was formerly a busy harbour visited by vessels from abroad as well as other parts of the Indonesian archipelago.  Cirebon had two royal courts: Kasepuhan and Kanoman.  It is also one of the nine centres from which Islam was spread throughout Indonesia.  It was one of the earliest Islamic states in Java and concentrated on the development of the arts and the spreading of the faith by peaceful means rather then military expansion.  There has been a rich fusion of religious faiths and cultures and it is easy to find the combination of Chinese, Arab and Hindu features with those of Cirebon.  An example of this fusion is the imaginary beast called the Peksi Naga Liman or the Singa Barong.

Cirebon batiks are the only textiles on Java which depict landscapes.These are usually representations of rock gardens and grottoes surrounding the palace of the local ruler, featuring fantastic animals borrowed from Hindu and Arab mythology (refer to an earlier posting of a work from the Masina workshop with the design known as Nagashebha ('seated serpent'), which features fantastic animals from Hindu mythology.

The works that have been sourced from Budi and Ida on this visit, will be illustrated in future postings once they have been professionally photographed.  They include a number of works by Ibu Masina and antique works from Pekalongan; a wonderful tiga negri (a cloth made in three different production centres on the Pasisir and central Java, combining the motifs and colours of all three) from Cirebon; a pagi-sore ('morning-afternoon') from Indramayu; and Tegal.

When you are next in Cirebon a visit to Budi and Ida Masina's shop is a must.  It will be an experience you will never forget.  Apart from the magnificent batik that will take days to go through, the walls of the shop are adorned with brilliant Indonesian paintings by major artists.  Sit down on the floor with Budi and Ida and enjoy being shown exquisite batik both old and new. 

Budi and Ida are two very kind, special and generous people who love to share their knowledge and passion for batik with you.  Hadiyono also shares with much enthusiasm his knowledge of batik and ensures your visit is an enjoyable and memorable one.

After visiting Budi, Ida and Hadiyono take a stroll across the street to Anggon, Wediyanto Masina's shop and workshop, it is also a must do.  Here you can watch in awe the batiking skills of the women who will each be working on cloths at various stages of the batik process.

Contact Details:

H. BUDIARNO MASINA (Budi, Ida & Hadiyono)
Batik and Antique Shop
Trusmi - Plered - Cirebon
Telephone: (0231) 321700

Wediyanto Masina (Budi's younger brother)
Trusmi Kulon No. 381
Plered - Cirebon
Telephone: (0231) 320300 - 320707
Hp: (0231) 3315015

Four extraordinary hours were spent with Budi, Ida and Hadiyono looking at exquisite antique batik cloths from their collection. Works ranged from a 130 year old batik in the European style from Pekalongan to a 50 year old work by Budi's mother Ibu, that has the appearance of a contemporary art work, the motif being, Lenggang Kangkung.
 [Photo-Anne Burgess].

Batik artists at work in Wediyanto Masina's (Budi's younger brother), workshop, Anggon, across the street from Budi and Ida.  Hand-drawn batik is called tulis after the Javanese word for "writing".  Tulis is the most time- consuming, expensive and highly prized batik.  The canting has a bamboo handle about six inches long, with a small, thin copper cup from which a tiny pipe protrudes.  The liquid wax flows through the the tiny pipe and is drawn onto the cloth.   [Photo-Anne Burgess].

The first waxing taking place- the waxed areas will remain the colour of the cloth after the first dye bath.  Here the cloth is draped over a bamboo frame called gawungan while the waxing takes place.  The batiker sits between the cloth and the pan of wax and begins her work with the canting.  Her free hand supports the underside of the cloth.  She covers her lap with a napkin or taplak to protect herself from dripping wax.
[Photo-Anne Burgess].

The thickness of the wax application will ensure the background remains clear of dye. This is a key characteristic of the excellent craftsmanship at the Masina workshop [Photo-Ian Reed].

This first waxing, or ngrengren, highlights the batik artist's amazing control and skill in the execution of this dynamic motif.  It is the workshop's skilled batikers who are choosen to apply the first wax outline to the cloth because this will largely determine the quality of the batik.
[Photo-Ian Reed].

Several women share a pan of heated wax around which the batik artists work.  Each worker sits on a stool with the wax and canting close at hand.
[Photo-Ian Reed].


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Travel on the Pasisir Batik Road - The National Museum of Indonesia

Nandi, the bull, is the mount of the Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer.  From 13th - 14th c. it was found in Malang, East Java.  It exudes an impression of peace and tranquillity. [Photo- Ian Reed]

The Museum Nasional (the National Museum of Indonesia), has endeavoured to preserve Indonesia's heritage for two centuries and will continue to do so.  It has a broad and fascinating collection which covers all of Indonesia's territory and almost all of its history.  The Age of Enlightenment in mid 18th century Europe lead to European settlers in Indonesia to follow suit.  In April 1778, the Governor General of the Netherlands East-Indies Council, Reinier de Klerk, gave his permission to establish Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen (The Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences), the first society of its kind in Asia [The Museum Nasional Guidebook].

The Collections are immense and include excellent Textile and Ceramic collections.  There are clear connections between the motifs and colours found on some of the ceramic objects and those on various batik cloths especially those of Chinese origin.  We spent much time also in the outstanding Ethnography collection comprising a wide variety of objects that are part of Indonesian daily life as well as objects used in ceremonies and rituals.  It is important to remember that Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world which consists of over 300 ethnic groups.  The Museum has a wealth of stone statues relating to ancestral worship, Hindu gods and goddesses, kings and animals.

It was extremely encouraging to note that the Museum is in the process of upgrading the exhibition experience being provided for their visitors.  Outstanding objects are being given a curatorial context and supported by good exhibition design, interpretative and educational planning and an awareness of the conservation needs for each object.  While collections and exhibitions are central to the present museum experience, the objects are with the changes taking place, surrounded more and more by contextual and interpretive materials, storytelling, and an exploration of the meaning of the objects.  As a result visitors feel more informed and connected to the objects and the exhibition as well as, to the Museum.  An example of these changes can be seen in the ongoing development of the Indonesian Gold exhibition.  

The Indonesian Heritage Society organises free English tours of the museum at 10:30am every Tuesday and Thursday, every second Saturday and the last Sunday in the month.  There are tours for a number of other languages as well. 

We were given an outstanding tour by Terry Melendez, Vice-Chairman Operations, Indonesian Heritage Society- sincere thanks Terry.      

The Museum Nasional is on the western side of Merdeka Square:
Jl. Merdeka Barat 12, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia
Telephone: +62(21) 381 1551

Indonesian Heritage Society Library and Office:
17th Floor, Sentral Senayan 1
(adjacent to Plaza Senayan)
Telephone: +62(21) 572 5870

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Pasisir Batik Road- a detour to Bogor Botanic Garden and Cibodas Botanic Garden

Entry to the Tree Fern Forest at Cibodas Botanic Garden.  These very beautiful plants can grow up to 10 to 15 meters on a thick trunk, with huge, lacy green fronds emerging from the top (Photo by Anne Burgess). 

[Please click on images to enlarge]

Before travelling onto the batik workshops of Cirebon it is essential to take a small detour and immerse yourself in the splendor of Bogor Botanic Garden and Cibodas Botanic Garden.  The 87 hectare site is located in the heart of Bogor, about 60 km southeast of Jakarta.  The vivid range of colours found in the flowers and foliage of the enormous variety of tropical plants can also be seen in many of the batiks from the Pasisir.  While Bogor has plants from all over the world, Cibodas is notable in having a spectacular collection of plants found in cool, high altitude environments.

Cibodas is reached by taking the Bogor - Bandung Highway.  This journey takes you over the spectacular scenery of the 1500 meter high Puncak Pass.  Cibodas is the next village over the Pass.  The gardens are spread over the lower slopes of Gunung Gede and Gunung Pangrango.  The gardens are extremely lush as this is one of Java's wettest areas.  The Tree Fern forest is sensational to stroll through, don't miss it.   

The water lily, Nymphaea lotus, from Egypt, comes in two colours, rosy pink and white.

The largest water lily in the world, Victoria amazonica, named after Queen Victoria of England, is from the Brazilian Amazon.  It has leaves that are at least 2  meters in diameter, turned up at the edges and covered with sharp spines on the underside.  The protruding ribs that give stability to the leaf supposedly inspired the glasshouse designs of Joseph Paxton at Kew.  The fragrant flowers are white when they open at dusk and reddish-pink when they close in the morning.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Journey on the Batik Road- Adiwastra Nusantara 2011

(Please click on images to enlarge)
Top: An outstanding Pekalongan batik (detail), which was part of a display of rare treasures from Hartono Sumarsono's batik collection (photo by Anne Burgess)

Bottom: Demonstrations and display courtesy of the Textile Museum of Jakarta (photo by Ian Reed)

Friday 17 June was significant as a result of our visit to Adiwastra Nusantara 2011 at the Jakarta Convention Centre.  This major textile exhibition in its fourth year was themed Wastra Adati which translates to traditional fabric.  Traditional fabrics are surviving against a flood of imports and as the chairman of the Indonesian Traditional Textile Society (Himpunan Wastraprema) Adiati Arifin said, "This proves people's appreciation of traditional fabrics is growing." (Jakarta Post 20/09/2011).  This year there were 400 participants celebrating their contribution to Indonesia's rich textile traditions.

We were fortunate to meet Benny Gratha while appreciating the displays and demonstrations presented by the Jakarta Textile Museum.  Benny is a volunteer at the Textile Museum and is very passionate about batik.  He shares his knowledge with much enthusiasm.

After discussing his role at the Textile Museum Benny guided us to the front section of the hall occupied by a breath-taking exhibition of works taken from Hartono Sumarsono's collection of Pesisir batiks.  The batiks were beautifully displayed and were accompanied by extensive information labels.  Benny introduced us to Hartono and we had an unique opportunity to discuss some of his treasures with him.

Thank you Benny for sharing your passion for batik with us and best wishes for your ongoing studies.

Also on display was a newly published book of Hartono's collection titled Batik Pesisir Pusaka Indonesia (ISBN: 978 - 979 - 91 - 0338 - 3).  This is a very fine text with excellent illustrations.  The author is Helen Ishwara.

In my previous Blog I wanted to also thank Mis Ari, S.Pd, the curator at the Jakarta Textile Museum.  We enjoyed discussing the exhibition with you and in particular, the various display techniques that were inventive and informative.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Journey on the Batik Road - Jakarta Textile Museum

 Self in front of the Museum Tekstil (Textile Museum, Jakarta), 16 June, 2011

Our journey on the Batik Road began in Jakarta on 15 June, 2011.  We fondly call the highway east from Jakarta along the north coast of Java the Batik Road, as it connects the towns and cities of the Pasisir. Our batik collection focuses on works from this region.  In these towns and cities you will find superb batik workshops many of which have been operating for generations.  I need to note that Pasisir batik also comes from non-coastal towns in Java like Garut, Banyumas, Ponorogo, and Tasikmalaya because of the similarities in the motifs and colours used in these locations. 

I highly recommend a visit to the Textile Museum Jakarta.  The exhibitions are very well curated and innovative display techniques are employed to maximise the visitor experience.  We were very fortunate that a large survey exhibition by two of Java's batik greats, Hardjono Go Tik Swan and Iwan Tirta, was on display.  The 150 works were not only drawn from the museum's collection but also from the collections of respected batik aficionados.  The aim of the exhibition was to raise the awareness of younger generations of the role and history of batik in Indonesia's rich culture.    

The museum has close to 2,00 works in its collection and approximately 700 of these are batik.  The museum which opened in June 1976, is housed in a charming early 19th century building surrounded by well maintained gardens.  There are also workshop facilities, a reference library and a small shop. I was hoping the shop may have had a more extensive range of textile publications for sale.  Sadly the shop did not stock the Jurnal Wastra, an excellent journal published twice yearly, for lovers of textiles.

We proudly came home with a copy of the Museum's collection catalogue the Jakarta Textile Museum, which is a fine publication of 118 pages and with full colour plates of works representing a cross-section of the Collection (ISBN 979 - 95306 - 1 - X).  The text is by Judi Achjadi, an internationally respected expert on Indonesian textiles.

It was wonderful for us to meet the museum's Director Indra Riawan.  Indra is highly committed to enhancing the role of the Museum and to making its collections very accessible to all Indonesians.  He recognises the significant role the Museum can play in celebrating and building knowledge and appreciation of batik, Indonesia's cultural treasure.

The Jakarta Textile Museum
Jalan Karel Sasuit Tubun No. 2 - 4
Jakarta Barat 11420 INDONESIA
Telephone: (62.21) 5606613
Email:  and Website:


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Journey on the Batik Road - Java


     Pekalongan, 1930s
      Head and shoulder cover kudhung
      Cotton, natural dyes; batik tulis and cap
      84.5 X 205.0 cm

On 18 June 2011 we started our journey on the Batik Road, following the north coast of Java.  Our journey began in Jakarta and ended in Solo and Yogya before we drove onto Ubud in beautiful Bali.  

In coming Blogs I will take you on this journey and discuss: the batik workshops we visited and the batik artists we meet;  buying old and new batik for your collection; batik museums that must not be missed when you get the chance to travel the Batik Road; the hotels and restaurants we enjoyed along the way; the travel argent and driver who not only made it possible but highly successful and enjoyable; the outstanding tailor in Ubud who will make-up your fabric you have purchased along the way; the drivers in Bali you can trust; etc. 

The art work above comes from Pekalongan which is one of the towns we visited and it is known to all in Indonesia as Batik City.

The method of production of the above cloth is known as batik kombinasi, as it combined a hand-drawn design (batik tulis) with a stamped one (batik cap).  It was worn as a head and shoulder cover by Muslim women in Sumatra.

I look forward to starting the journey with you in my next Blog, see you then.