August 11, 2017

Pattern Edition Batik Statement: Buketan

Summertime is Batik time! I spotted this field of flowers and knew this was a good spot for my 4th  Pattern Edition Batik Statement. With this series of 'statements' I try to explain the meaning of a pattern or motif. During my journey on Java last year, I noticed that every dot or line on a Batik has a name. Sometimes the Batik as a whole represents something, but also every individual detail has its own name and meaning. To learn a little more about Batiks and their story I thought it would be nice to capture their meaning in 'Batik Statements'.

Let me introduce: Buketan
Buketan comes from the Dutch word boeket or bouquet in English. Buketan is used as a big motif on Batik in both the kepala, the head, and the badan, the body. It literrally looks like a bouquet of wild flowers, loosely arranged without a vase or bow. Usually its surrounded by flying birds, butterflies and insects. 

When you think of Batik Buketan, you think of Pekalongan. The city were the motif was invented and is still being made today. 
The motif is first made by, or at least got famous by, Eliza van Zuylen. Eliza van Zuylen (1863-1947) ran a Batikworkshop in Pekalongan producing high-quality designs for a Indo-European, European and Peranakan clientele. Next to designing her own, she copied designs of other batik entrepreneurs. Her Indo-European styled Batik combined traditional Javanese motifs with Art Nouveau patterns. In the book 'Fabric of Enchantment' is written that her design of an asymmetrical tree with wading birds, evolved into a wisteria tree, blauweregen in Dutch, sheltering peacocks. This then became a bouquet of assorted flowers around 1910.

A story of how Van Zuylen designed her buketans goes that she used cut-outs of flowers and arranged them. So the same way as how you would arrange an actual bouquet. Her paper arrangement was then transferred onto paper and turned into a Batik. Fun fact, her sister, Christina van Zuylen, who ran a Batikworkshop also, first sold floral arrangements and bouquets.
Eliza van Zuylen was the last Indo-European to have her workshop open during the Japanese occupation (1941-1945). After the capitulation she got interned by the Indonesians. She passed away in 1947. Her Batik workshop got plundered, yet, Oei Khing Liem, a Peranakan entrepreneur, whose backyard bordered Van Zuylen's batikworkshop, still offered a large sum of money for the rights of her signature. The offer was declined. He already was making copies of her Batik Buketan designs, without the signature.

Chinese Batikmakers started using the design all over the North coast area of Java. And it is within these workshops the Buketan legacy still remains. 
Nowadays the best Batik Buketan can still be bought in the Pekalongan area. Widianti Widjaja, granddaughter of Oey Soe Tjoen, still makes her grandfathers famous 3D designs. I heard the waiting list for a Batik from this workshop is 7 years, or was it 3 years, anyway it is worth the wait. 
Oey Soe Tjoen started around 1925 with his wife Kwee Nettie Kendoengwoeni. They both designed Batiks, but they got most famous for their copies of Eliza van Zuylen's Buketan. He created a unique three-dimensional effect in which rows of dots create this shadow effect in the flower petals. Apparently Van Zuylen tried to copy this effect and couldn't...
In 1975 the workshop was taken over by his son and is now run by his granddaughter. This fierce lady is in the documentary 'Batik, Our Love Story', showing how the high-quality Batiks stay high-quality. The Batiks are made in 7 colour baths, which means that the wax is applied 7 times. If in any of these steps a mistake is made, they start with a new Batik. In the docu you see Widianti Widjaja preparing the cloths, drawing the designs on and checking the cloths between steps. A hardworking lady with a beautiful product! Hope to visit her workshop during a next visit to Java!

On my Batik Statement I'm wearing a body warmer, made for my mother from a, yes fake, batik my grandmother bought and a skirt, my grandmother had made on Java. The fake printed textile is based on the famous designs by Oey Soe Tjoen. My mother wore this for years when she was working in garden and I got it from her when I was preparing for my first journey to Java. Normally I would always go for a real Batik-Batik Statement, but with all the copying going on of the Buketan motif a fake copy fits the story, doesn't it?

Photos made by Koen de Wit, Thank you! 

Read more:

Last October I made a Batik Buketan carpet at Museum Pekalongan during the Batik Week 

My first post about Batik Buketan 

More about Eliza van Zuylen in my previous posts Give honor to whom it’s due 
and Difficult Time 

August 4, 2017

Javanese Batik to the world by Maria Wronska-Friend

Maria Wronska-Friend at Galerie Smend

Batik from Rudolf Smend collection featured in Wronska-Friend new book on page 20
on display in Galerie Smend, June 2017

I intended to write a post on my experience at the brilliant Mini-Symposium, which wasn't mini at all, organised at Galerie Smend in June. I ended up writing only about Maria Wronska Friend's book, which was launched during the evening before the symposium, and about her talk, which was during the symposium. So in a way it is about the symposium after all and I maybe post more about the symposium later.
Let me start with thanking Rudolf Smend for the invitation. What a wonderful opportunity to meet so many Batik fans and share an evening & day full of Batik in Cologne, Germany!

After a very easy train ride to Cologne (love living in Utrecht), I arrived at Galerie Smend just in time for the opening of the Batik Art by Catalina Espina and the launch of Maria Wronska-Friend's book Javanese Batik to the world.  Batiks from Rudolfs collection mentioned in Maria's new book were on display through out the gallery.
First one that caught my eye was this dark blue indigo canvas with just a simple batik crackled white line on it. I knew this work from somewhere...Took me till the next afternoon to find out I had been chatting with the maker of this piece and of the lovely book 'Indigo' (2013) I have at home, the artist Peter Wenger.
His delicate work is best described as poetry written with Batik. He started using the batik technique in 1952. Originally from Germany, his years living in Ireland and the inspiration from it can be traced back in his work; the sea, the myths, the poetry. Peter is now based in France and has been making works till recently, and will hopefully continue again soon. The publications made by Galerie Smend from 2005, 2007 and 2013 are more then just catalogs, they are artworks and a great way of getting to know this artist better. Thanks again Peter for the kind gifts! And great that Maria included this artist in her new book!

Photo from page from the book published in 2005 by Galerie Smend of Peter Wanger's work

Maria's book Javanese Batik to the world is in English and Bahasa Indonesia, Batik jawa bagi dunia. Publishing it in two languages must have been an enormous effort for the auteur and it is great she made it. Most Batik books are only available in English or even Dutch...and even some only in Bahasa.
Maria's knowledge is vast and wide. Her interests are so similar to mine and it so wonderful to see how much more there is to discover.
Her book Javanese Batik to the world is actually not about Javanese Batik. It is about how Javanese Batik inspired people across the world to work with Batik. The book includes a chapter on how 'De Nieuw Kunst' movement, the Dutch Art Nouveau**, started making Batiks for interior design, a chapter on the history of Wax Prints, on English Batikmakers from the 70's and on batikked Sari's from India. A must read and I need to make more time to do so myself.

Rudolf Smend asked Reynold Pasaribu during the booklaunch to read the title in Bahasa

Detail of a Batik Belanda from Rudolf Smend collection 
featured in Wronska-Friend new book on page 24 

Detail of Classic Tiga Negeri Batik from Rudolf Smend collection 
featured in Wronska-Friend new book on page 15

During Maria's talk at the mini symposium, 16 June 2017, she introduced us to her research. I like to highlight two more persons she introduced and of whom I wish to learn more about in the near future. And definitely will thanks to her new book!

First: Henry van de Velde 

Henry van de Velde (1863 – 1957)  was a Belgian painter, architect and interior designer. His influence on the Belgium Art Nouveau was big and he is considered to be one of the founders of this movement. Van der Velde got introduced to Javanese Batik through the collection of Thorn Pikker in 1894. Where artists and designers in the Netherlands used the technique of Batik, because it was handmade and fitted perfect with the ideas of the Art Nouveau movement, Van der Velde took the unusual step of using industrial imitations of Javanese batiks that at the beginning of the twentieth century were printed in several factories in the Netherlands as well as in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.*
He used the imitations in interiors, but also dressed friends and family in it. The ultimate Batik Statements in black and white from a century ago!
In Maria's article on Henry's love for and work with Batik, mostly imitation batik fabrics, you will also find more pictures of his friends and family dressed in batik motifs. Request a copy through the link at the end of this post.

Henry van de Velde and his family at their house “Hohe Pappeln” in 1912

Second: Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (c. 1910-1996) was an Aboriginal women who started making Batik when she was 67 years old. With a group of women she was producing batik in the desert under the name Utopia Batik.**** This hard way of producing batik outside made Emily switch to painting with acrylic when she was 80. Her switch from textiles to painting put her on the map as one of the biggest artist from Australia. An overview exhibition in Osaka in 2008 was to best ever visited exhibition ever held in Japan! A whole chapter in Maria's book is about this grand lady and her wonderful batiks. What an inspiration!

Installation view of a museum visitor looking at Kngwarreye’s batiks at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2008. Photo: Sonja Balaga

Read more on/in/at:

* From Maria Wronska-Friend's article 'Henry van de Velde and Javanese batik'. In the book 'Henry van de Velde: interior design and decorative arts: a catalogue raisonné in six volumes: volume 2: textiles.' 2014. Request a copy on

** More on 'De Nieuwe Kunst', the Dutch Art Nouveau movement, in these previous posts 'Batiking men in 1918', 'Little Red Riding Hood, where are you going?', 'Vlisco designer Johan Jacobs' and 'Give honor to whom it’s due'

*** Article on Emily's exhibition in Japan in 2008 "Emily Kame Kngwarreye in Japan"

**** More on 'Utopia Batik' and by Ingkerr anyent-antey in The language of batik

*****More on Aboriginal Art in the previous post 'Follow this line'

June 30, 2017

Pattern Edition Batik Statement: Beras Wutah

Summertime is Batik time! I received some nice Batik Statements through Social Media, keep sharing that Batik love! Now time for a third Pattern Edition of my Batik Statements. With this series of 'statements' I try to explain the meaning of a pattern or motif. During my journey on Java last year, I noticed that every dot or line on a Batik has a name. Sometimes the Batik as a whole represents something, but also every individual detail has its own name and meaning. To learn a little more about Batiks and their story I thought it would be nice to capture their meaning in 'Batik Statements'.

Let me introduce: Beras Wutah
When I was making my Batik Buketan carpet for the Museum Batik in Pekalongan, people of the museum were joking it was so nice I even used a famous Batik motif for the background. They were referring to Beras Wutah. 
Beras Wutah gets translated as 'Graines of Rice', or sprinkled and spilled rice. The motif is used as an isen-isen; a background motif or so called filling motif. The traditional pattern looks like actual grains of rice are scattered over the textile.
In Jeruk during my last visit I discovered a new version of this motif. Ibu Maryati started making it bigger, which resulted in a modern looking polkadot kind of pattern. Only thing is that this new interpretation looks very much like the 'Broken Stone' motif, Krecakan, Watu Krecak or Watu Pecah, Lasem is famous for. The difference for me is that the 'Broken Stone' is a more triangle shaped dot and the 'Big grains of Rice' by Ibu Maryati are more oval dots.
And the difference is they told me which were what.

When thinking of how to show this motif, I thought of the Catholic tradition to sprinkle newlyweds with rice when they leave the church. A nice way of explaining this motif to people here. What, wait, why do we throw rice at newlyweds?
When I started googling I got all these things about how we started using rice because it was cheaper than corn...That it came from the Greeks...or ancient Romans...We apparently did copy a lot of Catholic wedding rituals from the Romans, like the veil and being carried over the threshold, but throwing food at the newlyweds is probably not one of them...

Rice is a major food staple and is eaten daily in most places on this planet, especially in Asia. Because its is such an important food source in almost all Asian countries, rice is also used in many rituals. Mostly the rice is put, sprinkled or spilled on the ground to protect or to invite spirits in (Lakshmi Puja), to let babies make their first steps (Tedak Siten) or for the bride to show she is going to bring abundance to her new family. This last one and more wedding related rituals include rice are popular in India and common in Hinduism. During the wedding ceremony rice is used as food, sacrifice, a combination of the two. They are sitting on it, walking on it, throwing it in boiling water, fire and on each other. Also, and here comes the Catholic tradition from, when the groom ties the thali, a kind of necklace, around the brides neck, which is similar to the putting rings on the finger-moment, they get showered by rice.

Rice is food and therefor it is life. Wishing for a good harvest, is wishing for a future. A better harvest equals a better life.
Rituals to honour the Goddess of Rice, which has different names in different countries, are not only just to get more rice. It is asking for a healthy and fruitful life, it is asking for fertility and nowadays also businessmen asking for money.
Using rice as a Batik motif is wishing for the same things. Maybe the big grains of rice are not so subtle, but they are very pretty!

In this Batik Statement I'm wearing a skirt that was custom made for me last year by The Aria Batik. This brand by my friend Jennifer Wanardi sells wonderful Batik Tulis & Cap. From Lasem, Jeruk, Yogyakarta and other places. She is all about supporting pembatiks, learning about the Art of Batik and you can order custom made clothing from amazing Batiks.
The Batik for the skirt and background are both made by Ibu Maryati in Jeruk. The background Batik has a similar motif with a different isen-isen. Koen is wearing a blouse I bought in Lasem with the famous Latohan motif on it, maybe for a next pattern edition more about that one.

Special thanks to Koen for throwing the rice!
Thanks to Jennifer Wanardi & Siti Alkomah for the right Batik motif names!

To celebrate the 5th anniversary of my Batik Statements I'm making a magazine! A magazine with all my 'Batik Statements' from 2012 - 2016. It will be limited edition and only €10,- if you pre-order at sabine{at} !

June 24, 2017

Let's talk about Chintz

Frisian traditional wear with Hindeloopen style jacket, the huge lace hat 
and Chintz skirt from the 18e century at Friesmuseum, Leeuwarden

Dutch traditional wear with a Chintz skirt 
filled with exotic birds like parrots & the Greater bird-of-paradise

I woke up this morning from a dream that felt so real and made me realise I'm still hurting from something I didn't really notice before. In my dream I was in a long line of people presenting themselves. I presented this intricate ricecarpet (which I'm not even sure I could make in real life). The jury came by and I saw everyone being excepted and jumping of joy. When they arrived at my work they just looked displeased and told me "I didn't fit the profile". When I woke up I remembered that the people next to me, who were accepted for whatever we were hoping to get into, were actually two people who rejected me in real life. Or well my work, but if you are an artist you know what I mean.
One of the projects I didn't get selected for is now on display as part of the 'Chintz' exhibition at FriesMuseum in Leeuwarden. I just read back my proposal and I'm still puzzled why it didn't fit. I wrote about how I would love to explore the patterns, the use of colour, how I am researching Dutch Folkart and how they are influenced by other cultures and how in my opinion you can't just talk about Chintz when you want to show the cross-cultural exchange caused by the VOC: "The history of textiles can not be seen without our colonial history and the trade routes of the VOC. I therefor would like to say that your project could benefit greatly if not only the VOC route with India is explored, but also the other trading routes that influenced the Dutch and many other cultures."
I got a reply from them that my plan didn't fit their ideas, research plan or final products. I believe that my candidness about their project is what failed me to be part of the team.
Only one artist in the "final" project addresses Chintz within the colonial history. Unfortunately in the exhibition only this is said about his work: "Luxury goods from the East have both a price and a past. Inspired by this, Jasperse designed a traditional Zeeland 'boezoeroen' (Dutch blouse) with a pattern that refers to the VOC's textile trade".

I think what bothers me most, is not that I didn't get picked. Well it bothers me, but being rejected is never easy or fun. The number of Artworks I could have made if a little more people believed in my plans would have been a lot more...But what bothers me most is the total lack of owning up to Colonial History.
I was super excited when I heard about the project and also about the Chintz exhibition. For me it seems like the perfect opportunity to talk about our past and the perfect tool to educate people. But there is such a big cloud surrounding our history. The fear of saying the wrong thing or having to address things we rather not talk about, result in, for me, painful exhibitions & lectures. It started with the exhibition from 2015 in the Rijksmuseum, 'Asia > Amsterdam. Luxury in the Golden Age'. It was literally gold, silver, delftware and tapestries. All the luxury goods the rich surrounded themselves with. Not a word on how we got so rich, what influence we had on Asia or any other part of the world.
I also went to the symposium and it was about four lectures on Delftware in paintings from that time and what people ordered in Batavia (Jakarta during the Dutch East Indies) to be custom made for their tropical homes. I understand that many of our past stories are hard to talk about or even grasp, but don't you agree this is not the way? This is not respectful, it is even insulting.
So I had high hopes for the 'Chintz' exhibition and everything that would be organised around it. Maybe I missed some hidden explanations in the texts on the walls of the exhibition, but I can't say I felt educated on our history by it.
The exhibition focus is showing Chintz, and a lot of them. Chintz made in India, both original and adapted ones, copied versions from Europe and new interpretations. In the second room of the exhibition they quickly introduce the VOC with a huge map, the work of Jasperse, a morning gown in Japanese style and a very interesting skirt. I first read about the skirt on the Modemuze blog. On the skirt is a scenery of ships from the Dutch West India Company on their way to or from Curaçao. To my surprise I found the skirt was displayed almost hidden, behind a travel trunk, in a far corner of the stage. I believe there is a blow-up of the skirt on the wall, but its so different from seeing the actual textile and the impact from it. This was something I would have loved to learn more about! The blogpost on Modemuze mentions there is more about the skirt in the publication of the exhibition...

The skirt with a scenery of ships from the Dutch West India Company (WIC)
 on their way to or from Curaçao at Friesmuseum, Leeuwarden

When Chintz is explained it is mostly put in context with the fact that it was a useful fabric to trade spices with in the Indonesian archipelago in the 17th century. And that it later, by the end of the 17th century, became a popular textile in Dutch households. First used in interiors then in clothing. Usually they leave it at that, no further explanation needed. Apparently everyone is well aware of our colonial history, trading routes and business spirit. Don't expect any TABOO kind of confessions... by the way, I can't wait for the second season of that!

Wooden fireplace figurine (Placed in front of the fireplace during Summer) 
showed with other Chintz that are suitable to wear in mourning 
at Friesmuseum, Leeuwarden

Chintz can still be found in our traditional wear, from amongst others: Hindeloopen, Volendam, Marken and Spakenburg. But you see it also in costumes from the 18th century that were based on France or English fashion. The fashionhouse Oilily, founded in 1963, based their designs on Chintz found in traditional Dutch wear and the new ones made in India. The Dutch brand was huge in the 80s and its typical colourful, playful and multicultural clothing is well known. Funfact, the Oilily scarves, that we Dutch link to a certain group of people, is actually a hot item in Staphorst. This little Dutch village known for their traditional wear and folkart wears these scarfs and transform them into 'kraplappen'. Their use of colour and motifs fits with what they traditionally used, but isn't made anymore.

The Summer day of the Dutch Costume Association (Nederlandse Kostuumvereniging) was all about Chintz this year. A new part of the project, the project that inspired this post, got launched. I haven't seen it at the exhibition yet, but it is an alternative tour of the 'Chintz' exhibition. With the website 'Meanwhile in India',, Saar Scheerlings and Lieselot Versteeg share reflections from India on the shown pieces. So for example a Chit maker, Chit is the wooden stamp used to make Chintz, reflecting on the 3D printed stamps in the exhibition. I quote: "Everyone sees it as Craft (Making Chit) and then there is modern techniques [Like 3D printing], but that is stupid. Because this newer techniques will became older and older and will be [seen as] Craft [one Day]". An interesting project which shows at least a little bit more of the makers in India then just the technique.

When you know you own that print!
Wimpje researching her traditional wear for the exhibition that is now at Museum Spakenburg

Another nice presentation was about a new exhibition in Museum Spakenburg. With the title "How Dutch is my traditional wear" Spakenburgs own ambassadors of traditional wear, Wimpje Blokhuis and Hendrikje Kuis, started this quest visiting museums in the Netherlands and looking at piles of Chintz. The little publication was sold during the Summer day and I love that their quest ends with more questions! As they put it on the website: Wimpje and Hendrikje went looking and came to the conclusion the journey is more important then the purpose. I haven't been to the exhibition yet, but I hope to go soon.

Me in front of Chintz-inspired items 
All items are from the museum staff 
They are shown at the beginning of the 'Chintz' exhibition

Sorry for this, is it a review, is a rant, or is it just one of those blogposts? I don't know, anyway, thanks for reading till the end and please feel free to comment below on where to see, read & learn more about Chintz, Colonial History, WIC and the VOC.

June 8, 2017

A search for sustainable shoes

With every quest I start, I always end up somewhere close, but very different form what I was looking for. So today a post on how shopping shoes can became a quest for sustainability and result in a historical buy....

Sneakers by TOMS, Sandals from Gurkee's and sneakers by Vans

In the Winter I wear the same shoes almost every day. And in Autumn and Spring, but that is technically Winter in the Netherlands. It began with Dr. Martens in my teens. After that cowboy boots inspired by Madonna Music period and now for a few years dark blue Timberlands. If they keep my feet dry, warm and secure I'm already happy.
When the days get a little warmer it's time again to search for flattering sandals and handy sneakers. My shoe collection was always different, but the last years my search for Summer shoes resulted in a even stranger yet interesting collection of footwear and a longing for a simpeler solution. I love my sneakers, I love heels and I love green sandals. But finding practical and pretty Summer shoes, or let alone sustainable shoes, has become a true quest.
The Summer hasn't even started and I already bought two pairs which fit perfectly with my strange yet interesting collection of shoes.

The first pair of this year I found after an online search for sustainable shoes. My eyes fell on TOMS.
TOMS designed shoes in a way that the fabric and material is used most economical. With every pair of shoes that is sold, a pair of shoes goes to a child in need. I went for a pair with the Navy Batik Stripe. I couldn't find any info on the fabric online, but I thought it would be maybe on the shoes or in the box when I got them. After arriving the fabric looked like it could be handmade, but there was nothing on it to explain it. I turned to Twitter and TOMS replied fast, but not very helpful.

The response made me even doubt my purchase. Why can't they tell me where the textile is made? And is it actually Batik? And why can't I find any information on the makers?
It makes me think it's a shoe that does only good after it is sold. And this is something that is happening a lot today. Part of the proces is okay, but part is not. Of course making something completely sustainable is hard, but if your brands goal is to help people, you have to start with making sure the makers are treated well and fair every part of the process.  Don't get me wrong, my beef is not with TOMS. It's a good shoe, nice fit and I will rock them all Summer. But my concern is with the transparency of compagnies and brands. If you say as a company you have good intentions; to be more green, fair, animal-friendly, sustainable, you can already claim you are...
Instead of offering costumers what they want: a fair, sustainable product, We are sold only the intentions of doing so with a maybe future product.

Before my Batik TOMS, I got new shoes I thought where made in Ghana. It started with the Vans in collaboration with Della in 2014. Della is a Los Angeles-based brand which let their fashion be made by a community in Ghana. When I got the shoes only the outside fabric was made there. The shoe itself is labelled 'made in China'.
Last year I bought what I thought where rope sandals from Ghana. They turned out to be made in the USA. Okay, maybe they are made in better working conditions, but why where they promoted as African Fashion on blogs and social media?

In last years post about buying Batik, I promised I would buy real handmade wooden shoes. So during our short camping holiday in Eenrum last month, I had to check out the local wooden clog-maker. I was hoping for a traditional tour through the shop, but the wooden shoes were already unexchangeable on my feet before I knew it. If you are not sure you want clogs, don't go to this shop haha. Trying on means buying in these regions. But anyway, when I entered the shop my eyes fell directly on the purple clogs and the price for these handmade beauties was pretty good.

Eenrumer Clogs

Now I own a pair of Eenrumer Wooden bright purple clogs, but when am I ever going to wear them. When I was little I wore clogs every day. My mother started putting them on my feet, I guess partly to slow me down and mostly to see where I went. I left the shoes outside a house, so she could easily see where I was. Wooden clogs were at that point not so much daily wear anymore. I had a PE teacher who wore them, but that was a rare exception. When I asked my mom where she bought mine, thinking they were probably locally made, she replied 'Boerenbond'. 
Nowadays you can buy, mostly machinemade, wooden clogs everywhere. In Dutch souvenir shops and garden centers, but you don't see people wear them. Yes, the Swedish sandal clogs, which I have too, and the plastic Clocs, who designed those? But actual traditional Dutch clogs, no. Last year I worked shortly at the Art Academy in Utrecht where I spotted a student wearing actual Dutch yellow wooden clogs. I thought that was so cool and I wish I dared it too. I'm waiting for the right event to rock my new Eenrumer clogs, but I'm already pretty sure this will not be my last pair of wooden shoes I buy. 

My old wooden clogs

Me with my parents and brother in traditional wear from Volendam, The Netherlands
I'm wearing only one clog because 30 years ago I had the habit of kicking off my shoes

May 30, 2017

What happened to Von Franquemont

My second ModeMuze article went online about two weeks ago. Because it is in Dutch, I translated here for you. The article is my quest to solve one of the mysteries about Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867). I hope in time to solve more and unravel the true story of this inspiring Batik maker. Enjoy!

Swept away and disappeared: 

What really happened to Batikmaker Von Franquemont

Batiks that could be from Miss Franquemont's Batik workshop

On of my favorite things about blogging is gathering, exploring and unravel (for me) new information. As a detective I read my way through time and let old times come to live in my imagination.
A fabric, a motif or a sentence can be enough to pull all my books from the shelves (I own two bulging bookcases with partly read books) or google search terms. Often I found something else then what I was looking for.
A similar kind of quest started after re-reading Daan van Dartel article about Batik Belanda on ModeMuze. Batik Belanda is on of my favorite subject and Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867) on of my favorite Batikmakers from that time.

Mother of Batik Belanda

Von Franquemont started her Batik workshop in 1840. This lady is seen as the 'Mother of Batik Belanda', the first to make Batiks on Java with a mix of Javanese and European motifs for a just as mixed clientele. She was already famous when she was alive, she created an unique green and her life ended spectaculair. In 1867 she got swept away together with her Batik workshop when the volcano Ungaran erupted.
On ModeMuze Daan van Dartel writes she disappears with an earthquake. That sparked my curiosity. How was it again?

At the foot of the Volcano

I pictured myself during a next visit to Java standing on the location where once was her Batik workshop. Online I started looking for the exact place of her swept away workshop. It was established at the foot of the volcano Ungaran, written in old Dutch as ‘Oengaran’, in the region Semarang. Searching for Ungaran, in combination with her name, I came on this blog. Next to a short description of the Batik maker and her Batik neighbor Catharina Carolina van Oosterom-Philips, was a newspaper article of C.J. von Franquemont’s death. The name was right, the location was correct, the year also, but it said in old Dutch “Heden overleed alhier, na eene langdurige ziekte, me jufrouw C.J. von Franquemont” / "After a long term illness, Miss C.J. von Franquemont died today".

“After a long term illness”?

Being swept away and long term don't really combine that well. Was this a different Franquemont?

Eruption or disease?

I grabbed my books. Veldhuisen’s ‘Batik Belanda’; in 1867 swept away after eruption of Mt. Ungaran, Inge Elliot’s ‘Fabric of Enchantment’ Ditto. Daan van Dartel for ModeMuze, in “June 1867” with an earthquake instead of eruption. Van Dartel refers to Veldhuisen and Veldhuisen refers to “De Batik-kunst in Nederlands-Indië” by G.P. Rouffaer and Dr. H.H. Juynboll.
Long live the internet, because I found a downloadable version of the book from 1899.

Solving puzzles


Next to Rouffaer’s striking vision on the development of the Batik world — he has a rather low opinion of the European "distasteful influence" on this artform— I read “Carolina Josephina von Franquemont nu, was op 25 Maart 1819 te Soerabaja geboren, en overleed te Oengaran op 10 Juni 1867, den eigen dag der aardbeving die vooral de residentie Jogjakarta zoo teisterde” / “Carolina Josephina von Franquemont, was born on 25 March 1819 in Surabaya, and died in Ungaran on 10 June 1867, on the day of the earthquake".

Aha, there was an earthquake!

Carolina von Franquemont Sister put the obituary in the 'Java-Bode'. The same newspaper was filled with reports on the earthquake that shook Java. From different places on Java messages were published that read like eyewitness reports. Also Semarang was affected. Clocks stood still, while the fortress bell kept ringing. Houses in the Chinese camp collapsed. In the region Semarang only some buildings showed cracks and a garden wall fell over.

Dramatic Landslide?

The mountain or volcano near the place Oengaran was not mentioned in the Java-Bode. The earthquake was not an result of an eruption. I even found out that no historical eruptions are reported of the deeply eroded volcano Ungaran.
Is "On the day of the earthquake” misinterpreted? A cumulative error? Or was it a landslide that swept away Franquemonts home and colour recipes?

In the book ‘Java, Past & Present’ from 1915 is nicely written how due to heavy logging by the in-laws of Miss Von Franquemont an Hindu temple ruin is uncovered in 1877 on Mount Ungaran. But not a word about landslides.

Mysterie around her death and Batik heritage

If Miss von Franquemont didn't suddenly disappeared, but died after a long term ilness, what happened with her Batik designs and colour recipes?
Is it still a coincidence that the moved away Batik neighbor Van Oosterom made almost the same designs and later developed ‘Prankemon’ green?
There are no signed Batiks from Von Franquemont, or from Van Oosterom? There is a Batik ascribed to Franquemont with a note with the written words ‘Semarang - Ungaran’ on it and there is one with a stitched note with ‘A van Oosterom’.  But who made what exactly? And moreover there where next to their workshops also other, Chinese, Batik workshops active in that region.

So there you have it, alternative facts are of all times and even the smallest piece of information can raise more questions then give answers. And precisely that makes blogging so much fun!

Read more:
> Earlier post on De reis naar Batik about Franquemont's fairy tail Batiks 'Little Red Riding Hood, where are you going?'
> Previous post about Batik Belanda on my blog 
> Daan van Dartel's ModeMuze article about Batik Belanda 'Koloniale mode: wederzijdse invloeden in Indo-Europese batik'
Asal Oesoel, site where I found the obituary of C.J. von Franquemont

May 20, 2017

Pattern Edition Batik Statement: Udan Liris

Last month I posted my first Batik Statement Pattern Edition. Time for a new one! With this series of 'statements' I try to explain the meaning of a pattern or motif. During my journey on Java last year, I noticed that every dot or line on a Batik has a name. Sometimes the Batik as a whole represents something, but also every individual detail has its own name and meaning. To learn a little more about Batiks and their story I thought it would be nice to capture their meaning in 'Batik Statements'. 

Let me introduce: Udan Liris.
Udan Liris means "Light Rain" or drizzling. Or in Dutch "Motregen". When rain in the Netherlands starts falling diagonal it means it rains pretty hard, but in the case of this Batik motif we are talking about the light, drizzling stuff.
This Batik design is always made out of diagonal lines of different or similar widths. The lines are filled with different motifs. I believe there is a number of different motifs being used to create a ritme, but I forgot if it is always the exact same number of lines (if you know, please comment below!). These filling motifs can have each their own meaning, but together they are Udan Liris.
The motif is diagonal, like the the Parang motif I described in the previous Pattern Edition, and it is also traditionally in brown, black (blue) on white.
Today, likewise with Parang, this motif is mostly made with cap, but still some brave Batikmakers do it by hand. Ibu Rasminah was making one when I was visiting her in Batang with lines of 1 to 2 centimeter width. She didn't liked making it, because she got dizzy from it. I bought one from her with thick lines which will be featured in my book. The one I'm wearing in the statement is a gift from Sacha Lannoye, thank you dear! She bought it on Bali wear it is worn when going to temples. To capture the meaning of Udan Liris I posed for you in rain, heavy thick rain. I thought that if the rain was heavy enough my camera would capture it...Mind you, it was February when I took this didn't, but I still think it is a clear rain statement.

I received a comment through Facebook about the numbers of lines: 
The maximum of lines is between 7 till 11 different motifs that then repeat again. Seven lines is most common and used to be for 'princesses',. Nine till eleven lines shows the height in rank of royalty. Eleven is for the highest, the Sultan and his family. 
Thanks Renske Heringa for sharing this information with me and the readers of  this blog! And thanks you, Renske, for reading The journey to Batik!

To celebrate the 5th anniversary of my Batik Statements I'm making a magazine! A magazine with all my 'Batik Statements' from 2012 - 2016. It will be limited edition and only €10,- > pre-order now at sabine{at} !

May 5, 2017

Good Life II

Last week my first article for ModeMuze went online, 'Batik ‘Tiga Negeri’ & Java Print ‘Good Living’ jippie! Because it is in Dutch, I translated here for you. The article is a revisit to a subject I blogged about before, the Java Print 'Good Living' by Vlisco, and of which I learned more. 
And even more after my article on ModeMuze got published! So read the translated and extended article down below, enjoy!

Batik ‘Tiga Negeri’ & Java Print ‘Good Living’

What have the most popular Java Print in Ghana and most expensive Batik from Indonesia in common? A lot and much more then I thought! 

Batik at the exhibition 'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' in Helmond

There it was.

In the exhibition to celebrate the 170th anniversary of Vlisco, the Wax print manufactory in Helmond. The Batik I wrote about in the post 'Good Life' on this blog. But this post was not about this Batik, but about the identical Java Print designed by Vlisco. I already suspected it was a copy of a Batik. so I ended my post with the wish to see the Java Print next to the 'original' one one day. I promised to revisit the subject when I learned more and you can imagine my surprise seeing this almost identical Batik. Not only identical in design, but also in its meaning, its history and its popularity today.

Tiga Negeri

Lets start at the beginning. The Batik in red, blue and brown, shows a combination of patterns from different regions. End of the 19th century it was common to bring these different motifs onto one cloth. On Java, Indonesia, Batiks became more popular in the middle of the 19th century and the wearer was less concern with the rules of which motif belong to which region. Batik makers started experimenting with colours and patterns from other areas. This is how 'Tiga Negeri' Batiks got invented. 'Tiga Negeri'  means "three countries", or in this context "three states". 'Tiga Negeri' refers to the making of the Batik on three locations. Sometimes only the colouring of the cloth, but sometimes also the applying of the wax was done on three different locations on Java. The red and blue was done in matching motif in the 'Pesisir' region on the Nord coast of Java, the brown was done on the other side of Java in the so called ‘Vorstenlanden-style’.

Detail of Batik at the exhibition 'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' in Helmond

The Netherlands, Indonesia & Ghana

At the end of the 19th century there was a lively trade in all sorts of textiles on Java among which 'imitation batiks'. This one-side printed cottons are introduced on the market beginning of that century by i.a. the English, Dutch and Swiss. Sales increase when the textiles are colour-resistant, washable without losing its colour, and printed on both sides. These cottons were the predecessor of the now well-known Wax prints, but have a market of their own.
End 19the century the 'imitation batiks' were not only sold in Indonesia as a cheap alternative for Batik, but also found their way to East Africa as ‘Khanga’ fabrics for Tanzania and Kenya. Later they went as ‘Fancy prints’ or ‘Java Garments’ to i.a. Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa. Now the prints are best know as ‘Java Print’ by Vlisco.

‘Tiga Negeri’ Batik was made on three places on Java and later got inspired by three places in the use of pattern and colour.  Today a 'Tiga Negeri' is the ultimate way of showing your skills as a Batik maker. The design allows you to work in different styles, but most importantly you can fill the cloth with as many patterns as possible. This in combined with a lot of colours: the base in red, blue and brown, and today even yellow, green and lilac, makes a 'Tiga Negeri' one of the most expensive Batik designs today.

And when do you wear such an expensive Batik? When you can married of course!

Work by artist Renée Koldewijn made and inspired by 'Good Living'
On the wall a original Vlisco, lighter blue then 
the Chinese 'Hitarget' copy, that was used for the shirt, hares and painting

A Good Life

The big motif on the Batik is builded up out of floral vines with lotuses and flying birds. The motif is based on the frequently used 'Tree of Life' from India that is also common in the fabric Chintz.
Chintz were traded and copied in Europe and Indonesia already from the 17th century. The 'imitaties batiks' were a direct result from this. The 'Tree of Life' can be found in many religions and is a symbol for getting knowledge through growth. A Lotus stands also for purity, because it grows from the mud producing beautiful flowers. A Tree Of Life from Lotus flowers is what you wish as newlyweds for your future together.

The Java Print' is already 75 years a bestseller in Ghana. Batiks get named after the maker or type of design, with the Java Prints this goes different. The sellers name the fabrics. In this case  ‘Good Living’. The cloth is worn to protect against jealousy about your good life. "A good life
brings forgiveness” says an owner of this print in the video ‘The Currency of Ntoma'
by Godfried Donkor.

So what have Java Print 'Good Living' and Batik 'Tiga Negeri in common? Almost everything! Two fabrics on two locations in the world connected in their history, their design and meaning for already a century.

A Second Skin

After the article got published by ModeMuze, I got a friend request on Facebook. I normally don't accept so fast, but her pictures made me happy at once.
It turned out I wrote my article about artist Renée Koldewijn favourite fabric. A fabric that inspires her and of which she made many artworks. I was happy I could use two of her pictures in this post. The first picture shows a painting, shirt and rabbits sculpture made from a Hitarget copy from the classic Vlisco 'Good Living' design. After discovering this Hitarget fabric was a "fake", she found the original from Vlisco and got even more inspired by it. I love the image of the Java Print wall, with the artist dressed in the Java print (Chinese copy) holding up her painting of Obama with a 'Good Living' shirt on!

"This motif became a second skin. I wear it daily and even added it to my interior  This is my home. We are one, my house and I, we blend together"

- Renée Koldewijn

Thanks for sharing Renée!

Screenshot while preparing the article for ModeMuze

Read more:
- Previous post ‘Good life’
- Book ‘Katoendruk in Nederland’ from 1989
- Book ‘Indigo, Leven in een kleur’ from 1985
- Book ‘Fabric of Enchantment, Batik from the North Coast of Java’ from 1996
- Book ‘Batik, de ziel van Java’ from 1996
- Article ‘Over Indische batik-kunst, vooral die van Java’ by G. P. Rouffaer from ‘Bulletin no. 23 van
het Koloniaal Museum te Haarlem’ from 1900
- Book ‘Textiele versieringen in Nederlandsch-Indië’  from J.A. Loebèr from 1914
- ‘Van Vlissingen & Co’s gedenkboek 1846-1946’ from 1948

Special thanks to the library of the Textielmuseum Tilburg
and Batik expert William Kwan Hwie Liong

May 2, 2017

This Is How She Does

Katy Perry at the Met Gala 2017

While everyone is talking about the 'red dress', I'm staring amazed at her head. Not one, but two traditional Dutch head ornaments are on Katy Perry's head. And apparently they are not Dutch, but part of the latest Maison Margiela Spring collection*. This is how it happens and it is very appropriate that - I believe we can call her that - the Queen of Cultural Appropriation finally is walking away with an European tradition. **

The Catwalk look by Maison Margiela 

Katy Perry at the Met Gala 2017

There is a lot of talk online and offline about Cultural Appropriation and particularly about what a white person shouldn't wear. For me this is very helpful and I learn a lot about important traditional dress from many different cultures. I learn about how it is traditionally worn, where, why, its history and in the process you can conclude for yourself this is probably not meant for you.
It also inspired me to look into Dutch traditional wear more. Because what is the appropriate fashion for Dutch and why do we feel the need to 'lend' so much from other cultures if we have a interesting traditional wear history ourselves.
First of, we start with the whole history repeats itself. When I first looked into Dutch traditional wear, I noticed we wore a lot of grey and black. Not really the thing I'm known for to wear. There were no patterns, not even checked fabrics. Our colonial history let us to colourful, patterned textiles that entered our tradition wear, mostly in the more coastal areas. We lend, copied, used fabrics from overseas. Silk from China, Checked and printed cotton from India. The wealth that came to our shores by trade allowed the traditional wear to become more elaborate, more over the top. A part of the traditional wear shows this proces really nicely: the 'oorijzer' (translated "Ear iron", is there an official English word for it?).

The Catwalk look by Maison Margiela 

Affiche from 1931 to promote 'Holland' for English tourism
The funny thing is that the traditional wear the girl is showing 
can only be found in the province Zeeland #

Ladies in traditional wear at a book presentation about traditional wear #

What started with a simpel iron band behind the head to hold the lace cap on its place become in three centuries an ornament that was big and shiny. 
During the ModeMuze lecture by Jacco Hooikammer he explained and showed this development. I also was surprised by images of traditional wear from Vlaardingen. I was so happy to discover that in the place I was born, 'Oorijzers' wear part of that dress too.*** After Jacco's mother showed us the Sunday dress for Staphorst including a beautiful big zilver 'oorijzer, I was ready to start rocking this myself!
Even though Katy Perry beat me to it, I still want to do something with this. I think it is an interesting subject to explore further. Both in history as in actual fashion to wear, so I'll get back on this for sure!

Display at Fries Museum of the development of "Ear Irons"

Read & see more:

* The Hair and Makeup at Maison Margiela Haute Couture Spring 2017 Was Pure Art
** 5 Reasons Katy Perry Is Pop Music's Worst Cultural Appropriator 
*** Vlaardings Oorijzer from 1896  on ModeMuze

# Both images of from

Images of Katy Perry at the Met Gala 2017 are from:

Katy Perry's Met Gala 2017 Ensemble Is Jaw-Dropping
Met Gala 2017: avant-garde looks on the red carpet - in pictures
Met Gala brings the weirdness as Katy Perry dons a veil
Katy Perry Goes All Out in a Red Dress and Veil at Met Gala 2017: Photos

April 18, 2017

Behind the scenes

Batik Books Statement
Wearing 'Stille Kracht' shirt by Verloren Woorden & Batik Tulis by Ibu Ramini, Jeruk

Time for a little update from behind the scenes. I'm writing a lot actually, but not for this blog. I'm writing for two other pages and I hope I can share more about it soon...! I made this Batik Statement inspired by last few weeks. I love diving in my books and I had to show off my new shirt I got from Koen: A 'Stille Kracht' shirt! How cool! Spotted a lady in this shirt during an event at the Rijksmuseum. I saw her outside waiting for the tram and complimented her on her so-cool-shirt. She said: "I found it online". We had such a nice talk in the tram about educating yourself on history, especially on colonial history. 
Next to writing and reading, I visited a ton of great events and exhibitions already. It is Leiden Asia Year, ModeMuze is organising great talks and the whole Museum World decided to focus on colonial history this year; Rijksmuseum, Nationaal Archief, Museum voor Volkenkunde, Fries Museum, Maritiem Museum Rotterdam and more coming. So every opportunity I have, I try to go to openings, events, lectures, talks and exhibitions. I learned so much in short time about our colonial history already and I'm very thankful this information is now (partly) available for the public!

Marco photographing one of the Batiks

I'm working on my 'journey to Batik'. Last year when I returned from Java I had to focus on my friends and family. Now I'm getting back on track getting everything I made into shape. The shape of a book and film(s). 
Marco Maas, a friend photographer, helped me to get 30 Batiks documented for the book. During this year I hope to finish my book about the Batiks I gathered during my two journey on Java, about the makers including articles by other Batik lovers. 

Still from 'The journey to Batik'

During my last journey I filmed. I'm editing the first film with a leading role for Tari Batik, the Batik Dance, capturing how creativity comes to life through the hands of Batik makers.
Hope to find a nice spot to screen the film! And if you are interested in the film or know a good location to screen, please let me know!

This Friday 21 of April my blog is 8 years old, so lets celebrate! It is also Kartini day and Batik Friday, so share those 'Batik Statements' online with me! Use #BatikStatement and /or #8yearsTJTB. Thanks!