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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Batik Road - Masina Batik - Cirebon

Masina Batik - Trusmi - Cirebon

Wayang Cirebon Motif - Ragam hias Wayang Cirebon

Detail: Skirt cloth kain panjang, Masina workshop, Wayang Cirebon motif, 2010;
Cotton, synthetic dyes, batik tulis; 103.0 x 286.0 cm [Photo: Mick Richards]

Detail as above [Photo: Mick Richards]

Scenes from the wayang kulit shadow theatre performance are replicated here in this traditional design depicting a contest between Ksatria, or members of the warrior class.

The ivory background while not evident in this photograph, is a distinctive feature of Cirebon batik.  The ivory colour is also called kuning Cirebon (kuning = yellow).  This work has a wonderful sense of rhythm established by the movement of the figures and landscape features, all within the dense complexity of the surface.  The figures are anchored to the surface by referencing them to landscape features like the trees, birds, clouds and plants and built structures like entry gates and shrines.  The drawing is lyrical and in much detail.   Like much of the work from the Masina workshop the background is keep totally clear of any dye flow.  This is achieved by building up the wax surface over these areas to prevent penetration by other colours into the rich ivory background.  

A visit to Budi and Ida Masina's Batik & Antique Shop is a must when you are next visiting Cirebon:

Jl. Trusmi Kulon, Cirebon Jabar - Indonesia
(0231) 321700

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Batik Road - Tiga Negeri

The tiga negeri batik developed in response to a change in fashion trends which required increasingly intricate designs.

Detail of the tiga negeri batik illustrated below and in my previous Post.
[Photo: Mick Richards].
Batik tiga negeri- to enable full appreciation of this exquisite batik I have included a number of details.
[Photo: Mick Richards].

This detail allows you to observe the various small motifs within the alternating dianogal bands or dlorong (a variation of the central Javanese geblak).  The flowers are depicted rather vaguely.
[Photo: Mick Richards].

The Batik Road - Combining Pasisir and Central Javanese Colours & Motifs

Batik tiga negeri - Skirt cloth kain panjang
Cirebon , c. 1920 - 106.0  x 258.0 cm

Batik tiga negeri refers to batik cloth that combines the filler motifs and colour styles of three different batik making regions.  The production centers included one of the Principalities, usually Solo for its rich soga brown, and the other two from the Pasisir.  Depending on the region in which the soga is made, it may occur in various shades.

Tiga negeri cloth was an outcome of changes in fashion tastes post the 1870s and continued on into the twentieth century.  These trends dictated a preference for extremely intricate designs.  They were very expensive cloths that also epitomised the Javanese desire for perfection by ensuring each cloth utilised only the best qualities from each region.  By combining the motifs from the Pasisir and central Java, the wearer was highlighting connections with groups in both regions.  Later on these beautiful batiks became a display of the wearer's affluence.

I also believe that the development of tiga negeri cloths, is another example of batik being a living tradition where existing motifs continue to be modified and new motifs evolve, all of which add to its rich vocabulary.  

This exquisite work is made up of four floral bouquets and rather then being arranged on a plain background, they are integrated into the background.  This buketan style is considered to be typical of batik Pasisir, and was the fashion for Europeans and Indo-Europeans.  The buketan style also soon became the choice of Peranakan Chinese wanting their social position to be seen as being equal to the Dutch.  Their cloths as seen above, were very elaborate and the bouquets were difficult to distinguish from the background.  The background is made up of slanting bands or dlorong containing a number of filler motifs.  The colour combinations are very complex.  




Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pasisir Batik Road - Cirebon - Madmil Workshop


Renowned 10th generation batik-maker, Ega Sugeng and her son Arief Nurochmat of Batik Madmil.  Their home and workshop  compound is in Trusmi, Cirebon.  They are standing in front of one of Ega's magnificent works, a
tiga negeri kupu-kupu beras tabur.  It is a 15-colour kain panjang and is 2.6 meters long.  [Photo: Ian Reed]

When we last visited Ega in 2008 we commissioned a 12-colour kain sarong featuring the kembang rangdu negerian motif (detail above).  This cloth took one year to complete and for a work of such complexity, it is flawless in its making.  The kepala is made up of slanting bands or dhorong (as above).  Each band varies in colour, the type of flower and the very intricate filler patterning found within a motif, isen-isen.  The border around the whole work as well as that of the main body of the sarong, the badan, is a repetition of one of the dhorong making up the kepala.  [Photo: Mick Richards]  

Tiga negeri kupu-kupu beras tabar as seen in the background of the first image above.  The butterflies are drawn with a great sense of freedom and the dancing peacocks (as per the  final image below), celebrate beauty and boldness.  [Photo: Ian Reed]

This detail and the one below illustrate Ega's use of a wide variety of background filler motifs, the areas outside the main motifs, called tanahan.  Reference has been already made to isen-isen, the intricate filling motifs used to fill in the primary motifs.

When you are next in Cirebon a visit to Batik Madmil to meet Ega and Arief is a must do.  They are very generous with their time and only to happy to share with you examples of Ega's work.  All of Ega's work is by commission- from the various examples you are shown, you choose a work you would like to commission to be made.  This will take at least one year.  Many commissions are received from overseas museums and galleries.

Contact details:

Trusmi Kulon 388
Weru Plered Cirebon 45154
Tel: +62 231 321045
Email Arief Nurochmat:  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Batik Road - Travel Recommendations for Java

Taking the Batik Road along the north coast of Java is a wonderful way to visit the batik workshops, gain a real appreciation of the natural and built environments of this region and most importantly, build a stronger understanding of and connection with the people.  In the larger towns or cities or at the road-side stalls we were very quickly welcomed and engaged in conservation.  Being able to pull over at any time allows you to experience a whole range of daily life activities including: fishing; planting rice; local markets; wedding processions; delicious food preparation; identifying various plants and trees; spotting birds; looking at batik drying on lines in home gardens; and so many other activities all of which, enriches your cultural understandings.

As Henry Miller said: 'One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things'.

This unbelievable journey that began at Jakarta and concluded at Ubud, Bali, would not have been possible without the guidance and recommendations of Udhi Sudiyanto, Director of Antar Anda Tour and Travel, Yogyakarta.  After a Google search I emailed five Javanese Tour and Travel agencies.  Udhi replied immediately and his response corresponded to our requests rather then attempting to change our travel plans.  After we indicated the towns and cities we wished to visit Udhi finalised all travel aspects of the journey including the car and English speaking driver, all of the accommodation including breakfast, all parking and toll fees and the car ferry to Bali.  He understood us as travellers and ensured we had a variety of accommodation that meet our interests.

The whole experience was made so much the better because of our driver, Sugiyono (Sugi).  Sugi took his care and responsibility for us very seriously and ensured that at all times we were safe, comfortable, understood and maximising our enjoyment.  He also enjoyed being introduced to batik and batik makers and visiting locations that he had not been to before.  Sugi's contribution to the success of the trip was immense.

Our driver Sugi outside the Antar Anda office in Yogya [Photo: Ian Reed]
Sugi (on right) enjoyed the opportunity to meet the many batik makers along the north coast of Java.  Here we are all enjoying a wonderful morning with Budi and Ida Masina of the renowned Masina Batik Workshop in Trusmi, Cirebon [Photo: David Hill] 

We highly recommend Udhi Sudiyanto, Director of Antar Anda Tour & Travel to you and if you are travelling by car please ask for Sugi to be your driver, you will not be disappointed.

Udhi Sudiyanto, Director
+62 8122962693
Jalan Kledokan B 20 E

Some of the hotels we enjoyed and would recommend are:

Our room at the d'Omah Hotel in the village of Tembi, 20 minutes from central Yogya.  Rooms are meticulously restored old Javanese houses with all of the modern additions like the Internet.  Each room in the hotel is filled with antiques, artifacts and contemporary Indonesian paintings and sculpture.  You can truly relax here and the restaurant food is excellent
[Photo: Ian Reed]

The Guest House GG House, Happy Valley outside Bogor; Hotel Sare Sae, Cirebon; Nirwana Hotel, Pekalongan; two outstanding hotels in Yogyakarta- d'Omah tucked away in the famous craft village of Tembi, with its resident designer Warwick Purser, the Director of Out of Asia, is 20 minutes south of Yogya and in central Yogya, the historic Phoenix Hotel which was originally built in 1918 and since beautifully adapted to incorporate contemporary features has great colonial charm ; Lor In with its expansive and lush tropical gardens in Solo; while we did not stay at the Hotel Tugu in Malang we would highly recommend it to you.  It is an outstanding example of a hotel museum with every room filled with Javanese antiques and artifacts.; and the Margo Utomo located in the small hill-country town of Kalibaru, our last stop in east Java before catching the ferry to Bali.  This is a delightful Resort to relax in after a long journey.  Very comfortable cottages, lush botanic like gardens to become lost in and very warm hospitality