When the Dutch came to Indonesia, first as traders of the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century and two centuries later as rulers, their presence rapidly became visible in new batik motifs and colours. Floral decoration, for example, became very popular, and old motifs were mixed with new ones to create a new style of batik: batik Belanda, Dutch batik.
(a) European and Indo-European Influences- what were the key influences of these batik entrepreneurs on Pekalongan batik design style from around 1840?
(b) Analysis of the Work- what are the European design influences adopted by its Peranakan Chinese makers, in this work and when was it made?
(c) The Response of the Peranakan Chinese batik entrepreneurs to batik Belanda and how their responses were incorporated into this work.
In the second half of 19th century Pekalongan emerged as the most important production centre of European and Indo-European batiks, known as batik Belanda. There were a number of important changes initiated by these designers which resulted in an uniquely new Pekalongan design format, the buketan- large and elaborate bouquets of European stemmed flowers in the badan (the body or main field of a batik cloth) and for a surung, a floral kepala. The bouquet design (buketan), has been celebrated as being distinctively batik Pasisir ever sense. Around 1900, the design of large bouquets of flowers surrounded by butterflies and birds was often depicted on a plain background. This style became the most important fashion for Europeans and Indo-Europeans. These batik tulis works were of exceptional workmanship displaying an astounding palette of up to seven colours and canting work of intensely fine detail. These works were highly prized by the wealthy and the possession of such communicated one's Dutch links.
In 1845 the first European batik workshop was opened by Carolina von Franquemont, at the age of 23. Her workshop was on the slopes of volcanic Mount Ungaran near the Ungaran River in Semarang.
In the 1870s when the colonial economy became accessible for non-governmental commercial initiatives, other Dutch and Indo-European batik workshops followed.
(b) Analysis of the Work
[Please click on all images to enlarge]
Another indication of the cloth's age can be determined by its border designs. The badan of this cloth is surrounded by a booh (bow) which is not symmetrical: the same design exists on the lower edge of the cloth as well as its two ends. Across the top edge the floral design of the booh is finer and more dense. The booh appeared around 1900 and it was about this time that the second inner border, the pinggir, disappeared. The small vertical stripes (the seret) remain on the outer edge of both the top and lower edges of the cloth.
The new styles, decorative innovations and customs were soon adopted by Peranakan Chinese entrepreneurs as seen in the work, above and below. The Peranakan adopted and popularised the bouquet design (buketan) of stemmed flowers with butterflies and birds against a clear background that was developed by the Indo-European batik makers, and adapted them with different colours and more complex isen and tananah (filler) motifs.(3) These works utilised rich colours including red and blue. In the late 19th century and early 20th century some of the finest and most technically intricate examples of the batik process have been made in workshops operated by Peranakan Chinese. Their work was considered superlative for its intense detail, rich colours, and fine workmanship.The Chinese made many contributions but an important one was the use of colours found in Chinese decorative arts, which is dominated by bright colours and to a lesser extent, pastel tints. Pastel tints were made possible by the introduction of synthetic dyes and it was the Chinese workshops who were the first to use them.
Detail 5 [Photo Ian Reed]
Detail6 [Photo Ian Reed]
Djoemena, Nian S. Ungkapan Sehelai. Batik - Its Mystery and Meaning. Jakarta: Djambatan, 1986.
Heringa, Rens and Veldhuisen Harmen C. Fabric of Enchantment. Batik from the North Coast of Java. Los Angeles: County Museum of Arts, 1996. (Rens Heringa. Batik Pasisir as Mestizo Costume. 46 - 69. I highly recommend this essay for anyone wishing to develop their knowledge and appreciation of the appearance and meaning of batik Pasisir).
Van Dartel, Daan. Collectors Collected - Exploring Dutch colonial culture through the study of batik. Tropenmuseum Bulletin 369. Amsterdam: KIT Publishers, 2005.
Ito, Fusami. Javanese Batik: Changing motifs and Techniques. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, Tokyo University.
Van Roojen, Pepin. Batik Design. Amsterdam: The Pipin Press, 2001.
Chor Lin, Lee. Batik - Creating an Identity. Singapore: National Museum of Singapore and Editions Didier Millet, 2007.
Knight-Achjadi, Judi & Damais, Asmoro. Butterflies and Phoenixes - Chinese Inspirations in Indonesian Textile Arts.Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2006.
Tirta, Iwan. Batik - A Play of Light and Shades. Jakarta: Gaya Favorit Press, 1996.