Harmen C. Veldhuisen wrote about a very similar kain panjang in the Rudolf G. Smend Collection, to the cloth being discussed below, (the only difference between the two cloths appears to be their border variation): The first impression is that of a batik from the Principalities. The imitation lace border along the right and lower edge indicates however, that this batik was made in an Indo-European batik workshop or copied an Indo-Chinese batik maker. A second look confirms this opinion. The bird garuda is drawn in a non-Javanese way. *
* [BATIK - Javanese and Sumatran Batiks from Courts and Palaces, Rudolf G. Smend Collection. Insider Information, Harmen C. Veldhuisen, page 93, 19. The cloth from the Rudolf G. Smend Collection, also a kain panjang, is illustrated across pages 32 & 33 of this publication].
The motifs on this cloth (above and below), belong to the group of patterns/motifs/designs known as the Non-Geometric Free-Form designs. The most common type of non-geometric motifs, known as semen (from semi, buds or sprouting leaves), covers a huge variety of different patterns which the waxer has great freedom to interpret, provided certain traditional rules are observed. The common element is the use of leaf-like tendrils for the background.
There are three main types of semen patterns:
In addition, there are three variations on the lar motif:
Traditionally the sawat is one of the ornaments reserved for the highest nobility. Rouffaer believes it was originally a kind of crest or symbolic talisman of the 17th century Central Javanese Kingdom of Mataram under the great Sultan Agung.
The overall style of this Banyumas kain panjang is known as materos *, with its red, blue, and black colours on an ivory background, inspired by Dutch taste. The various components of the pattern are partially framed in an L-shaped border made up of repeated bunches of three small white blossoms on a red wave-shaped ground. It is the lines, that make up the border, that have been waxed and the background dyed: conversely, the motifs on the central field are waxed in the negative, which requires a certain skill when drawing without the aid of a paper pattern. The red and white wavelike materos border, up the right edge and along the long lower edge, is a signature element of batiks from Banyumas.
Harmen C Veldhuisen writes*: Around 1910, via the batik trade in Bandung, batik Banyumas became very popular in Java. In Banyumas, there were numerous small Javanese batik workshops, imitating the style of van Oosterom-Willemse, co-locating next to the large Intro-Europen batik workshops. Traders from Bandung placed orders with these Javanese batik workshops, but they also let the van Oosterom-Willemse style be imitated in nearby Ciamis and Tasikmalaya. Along with Garut these three towns were the batik centres in the Preanger. Batik workshops from these three centres brought waxers/batikkers from the Javanese and Indo-European batik workshops in Banyumas. These waxers/batikkers introduced the drawing style and specific isen Banyumas into these batik workshops.
*(Veldhuisen, Harmen C. Batik Belanda 1840-1940, p. 123).
Batik Panastroman, as Mrs. van Ossterom batiks were called in Java, were well known in West Java. The typical batik style of Banyumas was inspired by the style of Solo and Yogyakarta. In Banyumas, however, Mrs. van Ossterom introduced the North Coast red and European motifs on the selendang (shoulder cloth for women) and on the ikat kepala (head cloth for men). Mrs. van Ossterom was one of the foremost pioneers of Dutch Batik of the time. She originally opened a batik workshop in Ungaran (Semarang), around 1845 and moved to Banyumas in 1855.
From the publication, BATIK, Pola & Tjorak - Pattern & Motif, Penerbit Djambatan 1966, plate 62 (above) is an example of the Jogja motif, semen gendong. On first impressions, it bears a strong visual resemblance to the Banyumas kain panjang, under discussion. While it too consists of both, the mirong (a pair of wings) and the sawat gurdo (a pair of wings with extended fan-like tail feathers), surrounded by animals on a semen background, the wings and tail feathers differ in their drawn appearance (drawn in a non-Javanese way), and the animals are more abstracted in their appearance compared to those on the Banyumas kain panjang (below).
While the influences in this kain panjang are Javanese (accentuated by the sawat [or Garuda], the emblem of the court of Yogyakarta), the cloth has been most likely executed in an Indo-European workshop in Banyumas.
I wish to gratefully acknowledge Tina Tabone [TINA TABONE TEXTILE ART] from whom we purchased this beautiful cloth. I so appreciated our correspondence relating to our shared passion for Javanese batik and also, your total trustworthiness, a plus for anyone when like us, making our/their first batik purchase online.......thank you Tina.