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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.