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 photo...it didn't, but I still think it is a clear rain statement.


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}sabinebolk.nl !

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
* ARTISANAL - SS17 SHOW LOOK 23 
** 5 Reasons Katy Perry Is Pop Music's Worst Cultural Appropriator 
*** Vlaardings Oorijzer from 1896  on ModeMuze

# Both images of from https://encyclopedievanzeeland.nl/Streekdracht

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

Katy Perry's Met Gala 2017 Ensemble Is Jaw-Dropping http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/05/01/katy-perry-met-gala-2017_n_16373058.html
Met Gala 2017: avant-garde looks on the red carpet - in pictures
https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/gallery/2017/may/02/met-gala-2017-avant-garde-looks-on-the-red-carpet-in-pictures#img-6
Met Gala brings the weirdness as Katy Perry dons a veil http://www.digitalspy.com/showbiz/news/g24619/met-gala-gallery-katy-perry-jaden-smith/?slide=1
Katy Perry Goes All Out in a Red Dress and Veil at Met Gala 2017: Photos http://www.usmagazine.com/stylish/news/katy-perry-goes-all-out-in-a-red-dress-and-veil-at-met-gala-2017-photos-w479955

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!



April 14, 2017

Batik Statement: First Pattern Edition





With this blogpost I'm starting a new series of 'statements' in which 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'. 

We start with 'Parang'. There are different 'Parang' motifs but they look very similar. It is a repeating pattern, traditionally in brown, black (blue) on white, that goes diagonal over the cloth. The white forms a wavy line framed by dots and separated by diamond shapes in between.
The name 'Parang' comes from a type of machete or knife. The white waves on the cloth are build up by S shapes. A 'Parang' knife is shaped in the same way. 
The special thing about 'Parang' is that this pattern was a long time exclusive for royality. For instance, the Parang Rusak (‘broken knife’) motif could only be wornu by those in the Yogyakarta Kraton (the Court), the royal family. Today 'Parang' is probably the most famous Batik motif from Indonesia and a very popular one. My dear friend Denny Antyo is a big fan of 'Parang'. It is actually the only motif he wears. He gave me a funny gift which inspired me to make this statement: Parang motif cleansing nose strips! The other inspiration came from the online queens I follow. Not royalty, but the lovely ladies doing drag. So by honouring these queens I unintentionally made the first 'statement' that explains a motif!


"Sometimes I wish I was a fashion blogger, instead of a...is there a title for a Batik loving, history digging, art making Blogger? It took me quite a lot of time making these pictures and I think I'll stick to my kind of blogging, but I really liked making this post!" 
                                                                                                                            -14 April 2012


Five years ago on this day, I posted my first 'Batik Statements'. The photos I made were a tribute to fashionbloggers, but were also a kind of joke. I made the photos in and around the house, trying to get the bloggerfeel of pretending to be a model in a homely setting.

I had no idea people would like it so much. I got a lot of feedback, which after my first journey to Java hardly happend. I started asking people to share their 'Batik Statements'. I called them that, because I wanted people to make a statement of wearing Batik. I started receiving 'statements' by email and through Facebook. In 2012 I not only made my first 'Batik Statements', I made also new ones for the Batik Day, Hari Batik, contest on 2 October 2012. Later that year I held a 'Batik Statement PhotoShoot' at animal park Taman Indonesia.

Now five years later, I can't believe all the things that followed. I received dozens of 'statements', I made two fashion shows, gave presentations, made live 'statements' and even online tutorials. And last year I actually went as a blogger to the Jakarta FashionWeek 2017!!


To celebrate this 5th anniversary I'm actually making a little booklet! In the booklet will be all my 'Batik Statements' from 2012 - 2016. It will be limited edition!!
Pre-order your copy at sabine{at}sabinebolk.nl and you will receive first option to buy it!




March 1, 2017

Textile Manufacturing

A post shared by Sabine Bolk (@sabinebolk) on

Factory set up in the exhibition 'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' at Museum Helmond*****


Waking up with a buzzed feeling from yesterday, images of bright colours spinning around in factories inspired me to write this post. I have actually no time for it now, but I just have to share it. So it will be short.
The images that woke me up so inspired are by photographer Christopher Payne. They show worn down machines being taken over by bright coloured dust, yarns, threads and cloths. Beautiful and for me shocking at once. Our never stopping need for producing new clothing. An industry why things as fashionblogs and their bloggers, catwalks, malls, models and a never stopping pile of waste exist.  The photos show also a different story. The one of the growing interest in where are stuff is coming from. And specifically with clothing and their textiles where and how it is made.


Photos from 'Textiles' by Christopher Payne*

It reminded me of a recent photoshoot I spotted on Instagram. I missed the fashion show and I had not heard of her before, but now she is definitely here: Liselore Frowijn.*** A Dutch fashion designer who collaborated with Vlisco for her latest collection and in the proces collaborated her way through the launch of this collection. Teeth grinding good and it makes me feel old, haha. Anyway, for the photoshoot of her collection she worked with visual artist Olya Oleinic. She took photos in the Vlisco factory and that was for me a nice surprise. Vlisco is very secretive about their factory and normally no photos are allowed. Okay, the gritty photos maybe don't reveal much of new collections, but still.

‘In bringing the factory to the runway, my team and I feel more responsible about our client. We have never felt so connected to the shifting needs and expectations of today’s consumer’
- Liselore Frowijn







In Museum Helmond is now a (small) overview exhibition about Vlisco. Next week is the last week already. They show the history of Vlisco, how it is made (see Boomerang at the beginning of this post) and how it is used. It is a bright feast of patterns and gives a nice introduction on Wax prints. 
I really loved the entrance set-up that was made like a machine and showed with videoprojections how a Vlisco fabric is born. A unique inside considering normally no photos or films are made. # The exhibition is till 12 March so make sure to visit it!

Limited edition Vlisco Wax Print to celebrate 170 years Vlisco


I like to end this post with the upcoming Fashion Revolution Week, 24 until 30 April 2017.  I think it is great we get more inside in what happens in Western textile factories and more fashionlabels follow a more sustainable path. But we still have a long way to go, so think about #whomadeyourclothes and how you wish your cloths were made or how you are going to make them.
And I hope this post inspires you to do so!



More info on:

* and photos of Christopher Payne's Textiles on www.chrispaynephoto.com

** 'A mesmerizing look inside Americas textile factories and mills' Article about Christopher Payne's photo serie

*** 'Liselore Frowijn presents #TheNewCluster in collaboration with Vlisco'

****'See now, buy now' #TheNewCluster online

*****'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' exhibition in Museum Helmond

# 'The best kind of prize is a *sur*prise!'  Blogpost about my visit to the Vlisco factory 

February 27, 2017

Let Me Introduce Panivalkova




Apparently their video already went viral last November, but I just seen it now. I'm not soon captivated by something that fast. I do like and share a lot of things perhaps on my social media, but to consider it for a blogpost is something different.
When I saw the video 'Let me' by Panivalkova, I was struck by their modern yet totally classic interpretation on traditional costumes from East Europe. I also was surprised to find out this lovely, strong women are from Ukraine. Not really a place right now where you expect this kind of news to come from.
After looking at more video's, I came to to conclusion these ladies have an interesting taste, humor and are really beautiful without tapping on all kinds of 'western' beauty standards. The fact that a video goes viral with them in traditional wear, is for me a way our world is also heading. The one where more people are interesting in different cultures, the one where people are looking for a better way of sharing this planet.
Of course their wonderful headwraps play in with the popularity of their video. Wrapped in layers of colourful textiles that are slowly been removed through out the video without making making it sexual, but making them fragile and strong. The song itself is lyric-wise simple, but I suspect this ladies to have stronger opinions then their first English hit leads on.


A post shared by panivalkova (@panivalkova) on











Looking forward to see, hear and know more about them!

Read a little more about them in 'Panivalkova is rising star in Ukraine’s underground music'