December 29, 2011

Little Red Riding Hood, where are you going?

Little Red Riding Hood-Batik, unsigned, based on design by Lien Metzelaar

Reading three, no four books and an essay about the influence of the Netherlands on Indonesia, and visa versa, during the colonial time. First of I'm apparently interested in the same things artists where interested in during the beginning of the 20th century.
I quote:
"In the Netherlands at the turn of the 20th century, Dutch artists were inspired by batik as a technique and by its patterns as a part of a general new wave of Orientalisme in European art. It was used by applied art movements to revive Western art, which had been neglected in favour of industrial mass-produced decorative objects. Artists such as Carel Lion Cachet, Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof, Johan Thorn Prikker, Chris Lebeau, Agathe Wegerif and Bertha Bake designed room screens, book covers and wall paper, among other objects havng to do with interior design and functionality, and were part of the Art Nouveau or 'Nieuwe Kunst' movement of that time. This movement looked for inspiration in batik techniques and motifs, and all these developments resulted in a growing appreciation of batik as a form of art."

Can I ever think of anything new in this life time, haha...But seriously, this shows that Batik had a direct influence on our art scene. The quote is from the essay 'Collectors Collected: Exploring Dutch colonial culture through the study of batik' by Daan van Dartel, published by and filled with batiks from the Tropenmuseum. Very interesting and very helpful, so more information from that will definitely follow in next posts.

Sitting in Museum Nusantara I was reading some information about how Nusantara developed from a royal academy for engineers and colonial civil servants to a museum about the cultural treasures, history, religion and traditions of the Indonesian archipelago. In it the 'Wereldtentoonstelling' is mentioned. "The 'Koloniale Wereldtentoonstelling van 1883' ('International Colonial and Export Exhibition') was a colonial exhibition (a type of World's Fair) that was held in Amsterdam. The event drew at least a million visitors and was the first international colonial exhibition, with 28 different nations presenting their colonial trade and wealth."
Sitting there drinking my coffee and enjoying eating spekkoek I was thinking: "Don't I own a book about that?".
Well I don't own a book about that, but I do own a book about 'De Nationale Tentoonstelling van Vrouwenarbeid in 1898'. The book with the title 'Feministische openbaarheid' is about how the exhibition gave attention to the limited job options women had and under which harsh conditions the female workers earned their living around that time. The "Tentoonstelling" lasted 3 months filled with exhibitions, conferences and demonstrations of crafts. They even had a reconstructed Indonesian Kampong with music and dance performances and of course there was a room filled with Javanese Batiks, Batik Belanda and imitations prints from a cotton print factory (in Haarlem?).
I remember buying this book. I was in this totally too cool bookshop in Amsterdam and I didn't wanted to leave the shop empty-handed when I saw this book on the discount table. I was still very into our feministic history, because I graduated with a thesis about feminism and women in Art called 'What a Art-girl needs to know, Women's Art and Society from 1900 until now' and bought a lot of books about this subject. So I bought it, but never really read it, until now.

In 'Vertrouwd en vreemd: ontmoetingen tussen Nederland, Indië en Indonesië', which I'm also reading, they use information from the book above to show that there was a lot of criticism from the Netherlands concerning Batik Belanda. Madam G.A.N. van Zuylen-Tromp (no relation to Eliza van Zuylen) found Batik Belanda of such bad quality that the traditional Batik had to be protected from its influence. The inspiration and motifs used in Batik Belanda were of no meaning and only based on fashion. The European influence "corrupted" and "degenerate" the East Indian Batik industry.
Ow I'm enjoying this so much, it's like reading a soap opera of real fact & fury

Another nice thing I came across in 'Vertrouwd en vreemd', which I bought because it contain an article 'Little Red Riding Hood in Batik, From Batik Belanda to Batik Hokokai' by Amy Wassing, is that "Eliza (van Zuylen) copied and bought motifs from other Batikworkshops". Aha!


So lets go back to the start, I will tell you more as the story unravels. Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a village near the forest. Whenever she went out, the little girl wore a red riding cloak, so everyone in the village called her Little Red Riding Hood.

All this reading started with the batik I saw at Museum Nusantara, the Little Red Riding Hood-batik. This batik is a very good and clear example of the Western influence on Batik. A French fairytale to warn you to never talk to strangers and keep your knowledge to yourself because the big bad wolf might be outsmarting you (and don't lose your virginity to a sweet talker, but that's a different explanation of the story) ends up on a batik in Indonesia around 1905.

The more I read about the colonial time, "tempo doeloe", I realize people don't change. A lot of the choices made were and still are based on greed, jealousy and ego. Eliza van Zuylen is pointing her finger at Maria Paulina Carp calling her a thief, while Eliza is copying and buying designs from other Batikmakers herself. And this Little Red Riding Hood-Batik was such a design, copied by every big player in the Batikmarket.

"Very European style sarong with Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. The red coloured "kepala" is filled with a bouquet, butterflies and little flowers. In the "badan" Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf are shown twice standing underneath a tree with above it birds and butterflies flying."
Description of the Little Red Riding Hood-Batik in the collection of Tropenmuseum, maker unknown.

Batikexpert Harmen Veldhuisen tells in "Batik Belanda" that Carolina Josephina von Franquemont started with the fairytale batiks. Von Franquemont was the first women as far as known to start her own Batikworkshop. She started age 23 and in 1845 opened her Batikworkshop nearby Semarang. She mostly concerned with developing new dyes and designing new patterns for her sarong, it's unknown if she made batik herself.
For her patterns she used motifs from the Dutch craft magazine Aglaja. She even got the exclusive right by the publisher to do so. By enlarging, rearranging and combining, she created a totally new batik style.
Von Franquemont died in 1867 when in June an earthquake wiped away her batik workshop.* After that her house and belongings were sold by public auction, showing that she had a well-paid business. This inspired other Indo-European women to start their own Batikworkshop.

In 1903 till 1906 more than 20 Batikworkshops were listed in Pekalongan with European names. This is also when the stealing and copying started. The competition was strong between the workshops. You mostly work on commission and if someone's design was very popular, it was easier to make money by copying that design than stick to your own. To protect their designs, Batikmakers started signing their works (see also my post about Maria Paulina Carp "Give honor to whom it’s due".
But this didn't stop the copying at all. Batiks are still made building on motifs by famous Batik Belanda entrepreneurs.

Maybe Von Franquemont started the fairy tale trend, but I think it's Lien Metzelaar's Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH) design that is probably the one that got imitated. Looking online I found three similar Batiks as the one from Museum Nusantara. One is by Lien Metzelaar from around 1905. The background motif on the badan, called bilik or gedekan, is exactly the same as the Nusantara-batik. The one at the Tropenmuseum shows a different motif on the background, also the face of LRRH is a bit crooked. It looks like the "Metz" version has more detail, but it hard to say if you can't see the real deal.
I also found Eliza van Zuylen's LRRH Batik and read that after Lien Metzelaar died, Madam J.C. van Ardenne-Simonet bought her Batikworkshop and designs including LRRH in 1918. They all look so similar...The way she is standing underneath the tree, with a red hat, more than a red hood, the wolf coming from behind. Who was the first to draw it like that?


One theory is that freelance artists, "tukung sungging", drew copies of book illustrations and sold them to Batikworkshops. This could be the reason why identical patterns appear in batiks from different Batikmakers. If the LRRH-batik is based on a book illustration from around 1900 and you'll find that illustration you will know which design came first. Well I looked up about a hundred roodkapjes, rötkapchen and le petit chaperon rouge from 1830 till 1908, but found no match, yet.

The story continues...



* updated on 8 August 2016 with extra information about Von Franquemont from the article 'Ko­lo­ni­a­le mode: we­der­zijd­se in­vloe­den in Indo-Eu­ro­pe­se ba­tik' by Daan van Dartel

Opening "Sarongs van naam. Design in batik 1880-1940"

Saturday 17 december a special textile exhibition "Sarongs van naam. Design in batik 1880-1940" started at Museum Nusantara in Delft. The exhibition contains very special and high quality Batiks made by Indo-European and Eurasian entrepreneurs.



The exhibition opened with a Gamelan-concert by Gamelan group Marsudi Raras. For 30 years they rehears on the more than 200 year old Gamelan at Museum Nusantara. Every Saturday you can attend their rehearsals from 11.30h till 14h. They have a short break now and they will start the rehearsals on 14 January 2012.


Assistent curator Louise Rahardjo gave a short speech about making the exhibition and her special clothing. She was wearing clothing that was traditional for Dutch women in the colonial time. When they arrived in Indonesia, their corsets and petticoats didn't combined very well with the tropical climate. They started wearing the traditional Batik as a sarong with a white kebaya. Louise Rahardjo was wearing a beautiful sarong. I photographed it when I visited her, see blogpost "Interview with Assistant curator" . The Batik belonged to her Indochinese grandmother who wore it at her wedding. The kebaya was from her Dutch great-grandmother who wore it in Indonesia.

It's a great exhibition for people who love Batik and for those who want to learn more about it. I saw so many Batiks I only know from books, great! In January more information about the Batiks separately will be added. So I'll keep you posted about that. Also I will be re-visting the exhibition. Louise will be sharing more information about the Batiks. She did a lot of research and I'm looking forward to hear what she discovered & learned.

Very beautiful bright red Batik with fine detailed peacocks, I can imagine this was a bestseller

Batik filled with good fortune: horseshoes, dice and symbols of playing cards

Chinese style Batik with cranes and reed

This Batik looks unfinished, with one red dye wash. The birds look like Metz-birds ("Metz-vogeltje"). Lien Metzelaar had a great influence on Batik. She was the first to make big changes in the motifs, like the simplified single standing flower bouquet that started Batik Buketan. More about Lien Metzelaar in my upcoming post about the Little Red Riding Hood-Batik

Found a Batik with water-lilies and also a very pretty one. This one shows the Chinese influence on Batik. Cranes in a salmon pink lake full of water lilies with typical Chinese style butterflies flying above it. The Batik from Pekalongan around 1930 is signed by Go Tjan Liem. (see blogpost "Water lilies & table linen")

In my next post I will be telling more about a very special new item that is shown at the exhibition. A Little Red Riding Hood-Batik. In my previous post I say it's signed by Elize Zuylen, but that's not true, my mistake. It isn't signed and the maker is unknown. Copying each others work played an important role in the Batik Belanda fairytale.

December 13, 2011

Give honor to whom it’s due

Detail from a Batik signed by Maria Paulina Carp

Saturday 17 december a special textile exhibition "Sarongs van naam. Design in batik 1880-1940" starts in Museum Nusantara in Delft.
The exhibition including Batik Belanda among which a very special new collection item, a Little Red Riding Hood-Batik signed by Elize Zuylen.
I interviewed Assistant curator Louise Rahardjo when the exhibition was still in its early stages of choosing the right Batiks for display.
She also told me about the Little Red Riding Hood-Batik, but it wasn't sure if the museum would get the Batik, so I couldn't share the information with you.
I saw a Little Red Riding Hood-Batik in, I think it was the Batik museum in Pekalongan. I wasn't allowed to make pictures there. I know that I came in a room full of Batiks on wooden-displays. On my left I saw a Batik which I immediately liked. The guide laughed, I was liking Batik Belanda. On the other side of this Batik was the Little Red Riding Hood-Batik.
I felt a bit silly. Not only did I liked the Batiks made by Dutch hands more, or better said, its easier for me to like them, because I understand them. And that was the whole reason "we" interpreted Batik and made our own readable ones. In short, I felt like a Dutch colonist. Fortunately I learn more about Batik and my history everyday.

With the upcoming exhibition on Batik Belanda I thought: This is a good moment to share the Batiks made by Maria Paulina Carp. In August I visited the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam to document these Batiks. I was invited to give a presentation about my journey to Batik at the Indische Huiskamer in Eindhoven. I met madam Rosielle-Bergsma, the granddaughter of Maria Paulina Carp. She told me about the Batiks she gave to the Tropenmuseum. I decided to surprise her and ended my presentation with photos of Carp's Batiks.

These Batiks by Carp are getting more and more interesting. Madame Rosielle-Bergsma told about her grandmother during the presentation. Apparently Maria Paulina Carp was at the time competing with Elize van Zuylen.
Elize van Zuylen claimed Carp stole her designs. This maybe explains why in the information I got from the Tropenmuseum they say: "The five signed Batik that survived show no own style, they are rather imitation of Indo-European works".
I was surprised when I saw these beautifully made Batiks before me. The conservator of the Tropenmuseum agreed with me, how can they say that about these Batiks. But at the time I didn't know that Carp was already accused by van Zuylen around 1900. I thought the experts concluded this later about the Batiks.

To find out more I visited the library of the Textielmuseum in Tilburg. Great library by the way. The librarian asked me why I was there, so I told about my blog and she knew it. So I didn't dare to touch anything at first, haha.
The quote about Carp's Batiks is from the book "Fabric Of Enchantment" (in the book they say six Batiks instead of five). Love to own this book, but I don't, but the Textielmuseum does, so there I was.

Maria Paulina Carp was the only, as far as known, Javanese Batikworkshop owner with a European name in Pekalongan. After 1860 Pekalongan became the most important production place for Indo-European Batiks, better know as Batik Belanda. The original Batik Pekalongan changed to fit the Indo-European market. The Indo-European Batikmakers introduced signing their designs, which makes it quite easy now to trace the maker. Although they signed their designs a lot of imitations where made. The so called "Peranakan entrepreneurs" copied famous or popular patterns. Copyright didn't exist yet.

The Batiks from Pekanlongan changed, become more western. The original "Pesisir bang biru" ("Red-blue batik from the waterside"/Coastal Batik) was interpreted in different shades of blue and red. The light coloured bang-biru's didn't resemble the original ones at all.
Also more straight lines and a division of the surface like seen in wallpaper was introduced in the designs. And last but not least Batik Buketan was created.
All three examples are nicely represented in Carp's Batiks. Which makes her the perfect new style Batik Pekalongan maker or a very good, "to perfection" as they say in "Fabric of Enchantment", imitator.
Probably Rens Heringa and Harmen Veldhuisen (the authors of the book) are right, but reading about Maria Paulina Carp I can't help but wonder if her being Javanese and all had anything to do with it.
The designs of Batik and the patterns used, tell something about the maker and the wearer. You can "read" from which area the Batik is. You can read what kind of plants grow there, what occupation they have, if they're rich, what their origin is and much more. Patterns are copied to explain this. By using the same pattern and design the right information is shared.
What made doing this so different around 1900. Is it something western to claim "this is ours"? Typing this, I'm already thinking: "Yes, of course!". How many times did we invade countries and claimed it to be ours..silly me..

The Indo-European where the first to sign their works. Before that the design of a Batik had to tell you where it was made, not the signature. The designs made by Indo-European Batikmakers where based on the original Batiks made in Pekalongan. Traditional background motifs were incorporated into the new designs, but the patterns lost their meaning, probably because they didn't know what it that meaning was. The "kraton" patterns like "Kawung" and "Parang Rusak" were adjusted for a larger market. Before these motifs were meant only for royalty. So how original were the designs to start with?





This dark and light blue Batik is a nice example of authentic motifs with western influence. The oblique lines are found in a lot of Batik and usually for the base of the Batik. I read somewhere that its called "drizzle". I remembered it because I found it strange that a pattern is called after a kind of rain in such a sunny country. The center of the Batik, "kepala", is filled with a french style motif. Birds and butterflies flying around wine baskets.
France had always, and still has, a big influence in fashion and lifestyle. Copying the french vogue in clothing, decorating and our interior. Apparently we even took the french style to Java.
Art Nouveau (during 1890–1910) pattern were adopted in Batik. Batikmakers used postcards and books to make their new designs. A. J. F. Jans made a Batik with orchids based, most likely, on a design by William Morris. I made a wallpaper (see Orchid, silk-screen print on (wall)paper) based on that Batik, its quite funny considering that it probably was a William Morris wallpaper design.





Typical Batik Buketan in both colour and motif. Really beautiful how the colours are still so vibrant. Nice contrast between de dark/light red and the white with the pastel flowers on it. This colour combination was and still is very popular in Batik Buketan (see also blogpost Batik Buketan).




I think this is based on the original Batik from Pekalongan, "Pesisir bang biru". I don't know how much is changed or added in the design to make it more western. If you have more information, please let me know!







This last one will classify as a Batik Belanda based om Delftware. I'm learning more about Delftware to find out how Delftware influenced Batik and what is incorporated in the pattern. In Delft I went looking for Delftware (see blogpost A quest in Delft part II, haven't got any answers yet, only found more beautiful things with interesting histories.
In this Batik the Delftware influence is clear in the use of colour. A white background, "badan", with the pattern in light and dark blue. The flowers look like carnations with butterflies and moths buzzing around it. The "kepala" is dark blue based with a white and light blue pattern similar to the design of the first Batik. Flower garlands growing out of boot-shaped wine baskets while birds fly around carrying branches.

It's unknown how long Maria Carp's Batikworkshop was open. Only five or six Batiks remain, four of them are at the Tropenmuseum and one is in a private collection. The Batik in the private collection looks a lot like the "Pesisir bang biru" Batik above.

Of course I will be attending the opening Saturday at Museum Nusantara in Delft and give you a report here on De reis naar Batik!

December 5, 2011

New Dutch traditions

Smarter cloths worn after work from Staphorst/Rouveen, as worn on "Prinsjesdag" versus modern koto , as worn for Keti Koti, the annual celebration commemorating the abolition of slavery (2010).

Went to Arnhem last week to visit the exhibition "Sweet Wilderness" by Surya de Wit. She just finished the art academy and already filled a room with beautiful new work. The following day I had an appointment in the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum.
This museum is best know for its folkloric park filled with typical Dutch historic houses and farms. In Summertime they show how the occupants lived and where dressed. I was never a big fan of our folkcostumes, but with my new found interest for Dutch folkart and traditions, I have found a new perspective towards the subject.

Frida Kahlo is being seen as an exotic, authentic artist. Because she is folkloristic, wears the traditional national folkcostume, is fascinated and inspired by her history and roots. If you do the same in the Netherlands (wear wooden shoes and a lace cape, know your Dutch history & traditions) they think you are hopelessly rigid, old-fashioned and boring. But I start to think that this isn't true.
Vikings, Spaniards and the VOC flooded our country with chaos, gold & other riches. While doing so they influenced us with all this different cultures.
Nowadays we're busy with what is typical Dutch, protecting our little country from cultures abroad.
But what is typical Dutch? Do we even know? Have we forgotten?
It's nothing more than a vague memory of a farmers life back in the day filled with Burgundian happiness (in Dutch we say: "gezelligheid").
I'm not saying we should all start wearing wooden shoes and make a circle and do a clog-dance. what I'm trying to say is that we have a history in which we are influenced by so many cultures, and that is fantastic, fascinating and thrilling, and why not embrace that and find out what influenced us and why.

I had an appointment to get more information about sand- and flowercarpets. On my site is a bit more about that (in Dutch, see www.sabinebolk.nl post De reis naar Batik. I will address this subject later on my blog. The Nederlandse Openluchtmuseum have a very interesting collection of folkcostumes and folkart. I contacted them and recieved an email that they had 30 photos of sandcarpets and sandcarpetmakers. Also they had a film in their collection by D.J. van der Ven. A very intersting man, I will make a blogpost about him soon. A few weeks back a ordered a filmfragment about the flowercarpet made during the procession in Asselt-aan-de-Maas and it turned out to be the same, so know I know the maker!

After the appointment me & Koen had some time left so we visited the park and we found a very beautiful exhibition in the basement of the entree-building. The exhibition is called "Kleur Bekennen in streekdracht en kotomisi" (translated: "Show our colours in folkcostumes and Kotomisi/Koto").

Overview exhibition "Kleur bekennen" at the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum

In 1969 the NV Billiton Maatschappij donated 8 Surinamese kotos to the "Collection of Queen Wilhelmina". This collection was managed by the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum. But the Koto's were never on display. The management found that the clothing didn't fit in a museum about Dutch culture. Suriname was then still part of the Koninkrijk der Nederlanden. Nowadays wearing koto is a way for Dutch women from Afro-Surinamese origin to show their identity. The Openluchtmuseum decided to show their colours and gave the kotos a prominent place in their collection.

There are different stories about how the Kotomisi tradition started. Dutch plantation owners would have forced their slaves to wear covering clothing. So Koto is being seen as a painful legacy.
Another story tells that Kotomisi developed after the ending of slavery in 1863. The Koto got its characteristic form after 1879 when it got forbidden to walk around shirtless. The short wide yak become fashion and the skirt got its enormous size.

In "Kleur bekennen" they show the Dutch folkcostumes next to the kotos. With video projections Dutch and Surinamese women tell why they wear folkcostumes. In the Surinamese community it's becoming more popular, but in the Dutch society it's almost extinct.
Reasons that it got extinct are: people become more mobile and visited other regions, in WWII it was difficult to get fabrics for making costumes, there were very strict rules for mourning-clothing and it took a long time to get dressed.
In some places in the Netherlands folkcostumes are still worn, but mostly for special occasions and tourism.

In 1675 the Dutch East India Compony (VOC) began importing brightly coloured chintz ("sitsen") from India. This yak is from around 1750-1775 from the Zaanstreek.

Thanks to Roman K. with his great blog FolkCostume & Embroidery I know what these are. I helped him translated some Dutch info about "koplappen/kroplappen". Read more about it in his post about "Costume of Volendam, North Holland, The Netherlands".

Oorijzer/‘ear iron’, a gold, silver or copper band with decorative ends used to secure a woman’s cap on her head

Tradition folkcostume from Princehage, 1950


Her Koto reminded me of Oost-Indisch bont. I wrote about it in the blogpost "Checkmate"


Yaki/ yak from Koto

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. This one means: "Call me on my cellphone".