May 5, 2011

Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam

Ancestor figure from New Guinea

Last week I visited the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. It was a long time ago that I was there. It is located in a beautiful building. The Tropenmuseum has a lot of Batiks in their collection, unfortunately not on display in the museum. But still there was enough inspiration to be found! I especially like the bird figures from New Guinea & Papua (see the photo's below) and I think the Tree of life will have a place in my work soon.

Enjoy the photo's and when you are in Amsterdam do visit the Tropenmuseum!

New Guinea

Dance skirt made of Bark ("boomschors"), Sentani-lake, Papua

Hornbill figure ("Neushoornvogelfiguur") and other mythical bird figures

Nut cracker from Madura, Indonesia

Malaysia, 19e century

Love this one! 
Bird figure made by the Asmat (people) from Papua.
 It's based on a cockatoo

This Hornbill figure was used by the Abelam (people) 
to gard the men house
Papua/New Guinea


Prayer shawl, Batik made in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2007

Tree of Life

Tree of life ("levensboom") 

This specific one is used in Wayang to mark the beginning, end or the break of a Wayang play. The Tree of life is called Dewadaru. It stands for gift of the gods. The tree grows on the Karimunjawa Islands north of Java. The inhabitants believe the wood of the tree has heeling power and is used as an charm for protection.

Tree of life from Mexico
In Mexico this Tree of life is used on the Day of the dead ("Día de los Muertos")
The candles stand for the spirits of lost family and friends.

India - Netherlands

In 1675 the Dutch East India Compony (VOC) began importing brightly coloured chintz ("sitsen") from India. In the Netherlands they started to make imitations. This jacket ("jakje") is from the around 1817 closed cotton print factory Overtooms welvaren in Amsterdam.

Wooden printblocks from Iran

Printblock ("drukblok")

Made of wood from Iran, decorated with palmette ("palmetten-versiering"; gestilleerd palmblad of kleine palm) for applying ornaments on cotton. The printblocks look a lot like the caps from Indonesia. I think they apply the paint directly to the wood and then stamp on the fabric. With the cap it's the wax that is applied to the fabric.

African Batik

Angisa's, textile with a message

The origin of this folded head cloth lies in West Africa. The way the head cloth is folded gives expression the the feeling of the wearer. Sometimes it's a silent for of protest or a way to show happiness.

More info on


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  2. Hey Elfira, Thanks for visiting my blog! Really great museum, if you are in Belanda make sure to visit it :)
    Greetings Sabine