BATIK PAOMAN ART WORKSHOP
Fishing villages in the vicinity of the town of Indramayu developed a bold, decorative style of batik with motifs depicting local flora and fauna. The motifs/designs represented in the following three cloths from the Batik Paoman Art workshop, are:
Jarot asem or Javanese tamarind motif,
Iwak etong or trubus fish motif, &
Kapal laju or fast sailing ship motif.
(In Cirebon this motif is called Kapal kandas or the heavily laden 'ship aground' motif, symbolising maturity).
The Batik Paoman Art workshop was founded by Mrs. Hj. Siti Ruminah Sudiono.
Indramayu, like Cirebon, was once an important harbour for the inter-island and international trade. The two towns have close cultural relationships and family ties, a result of being in close reach of each other. As a result some of their batiks are similar both in appearance and interpretation, like Kapal kandas and Kapal laju. Simple batik is made for local consumption by fishermen's wives with designs influenced by the sea life that gives them sustenance.
(a) JAROT ASEM or JAVANESE TAMARIND MOTIF
This motif is called Jarot asem (Javanese tamarind motif) as it depicts the leaves and pods of this plant. The tamarind has both culinary and medicinal applications and is commonly grown in many parts of Java.
(b) IWAK ETONG or TRUBUS FISH MOTIF
A coastal town not far west of Cirebon, Indramayu has a strong Chinese input. The waxes are women whose family's livelihood is derived from the ocean. The trubos fish was found in the past in great quantities, in the ocean around Indramayu. Thus, the ocean is evident in many of its motifs/patterns, like this one with trubus fish amongst the waterweed and the occasional, very large centipede. In Chinese iconography the fish stands for wealth, while the poisonous centipedes protects against misfortune.
(c) KAPAL LAJU or FAST SAILING SHIP MOTIF
The patterns have been executed in thin lines against white background. Large sections of the cloth had to be covered with wax, leaving only narrow openings for the dye to penetrate fibres and to create the contours of the designs. The workmanship is significant when one remembers that it is the background that is drawn in wax, and not the individual lines of each of the figures.
When you set out on your journey along the very beautiful north coast of Java, the Pasisir, I would highly recommend you include dropping into and staying a while in Indramayu. Its people and batik will not disappoint and you will receive a very warm welcome indeed just as we did.