06 May 2012

Yogya/Solo: batik (2)

The first batik we bought this trip has a royal pedigree. It's about fifty years old, hand-drawn (tulis) by a member of the family resident in Solo's Puro Mangkunegaran. It would have been worn once, during a ceremonial dance. The lighter, more geometric pattern is parang (dagger) and the colors are from natural dyes.
Our next stop after the Puro was the House of Danar Hadi complex. We were only able to peek through glass into the museum since the guard was anticipating a visit from distinguished guests.

We did, however, enjoy lunch in the elegant Soga Restaurant, billed as a "Batik Journey through Dining." I'm not sure how the food could be considered batik-influenced, but the setting certainly was.

The shop was also quite stunning. We picked up two metres of inexpensive factory-made batik to have made into a large cushion cover by Ibu Josephine, Jakarta's "Pillow Lady," still hard at work 20 years after I first met her. For our bedroom in France, we also bought a length of blue and white batik tulis.

[image from Danar Hadi website]
Kampoeng Batik Laweyan (Laweyan Batik Village) is a cluster of small batik workshops, revitalized in the last few years as a heritage site after falling in disuse and disrepair when the market was flooded by inexpensive Chinese factory batik. We didn't have much time and weren't able to track down the real craftsmen, but Michael found a sarong to take on his Australian desert trip and we bought yet another tiny batik shirt for a maybe-someday grandchild. We had a good time just walking down the narrow streets. Lots of atmosphere: the village still retains spots of picturesque dilapidation, a plus for tourists if not for inhabitants.

Showroom in a lovely old Dutch house.

 Dutch warehouses.

 The next day found us in Pajimatan, Imogiri, on our way down to the coast for a view of the Indian Ocean (my first) and sand collection (MW). We didn't get to the batik museum nearby, nor to the famous royal graveyard, but we had a splendid close encounter with one of the cemetery guards. We went back to his house and purchased two lurik (sometimes called "poor man's batik," generally striped) shirts like the one this dignified gentleman is wearing. One was part of a set, compete with sarong and blangkon, the traditional headgear.

A devastating earthquake hit the town in 2006 (over 6,000 dead in the area). Our guide's home was spared, but we walked past rubble and reroofed/rebuilt homes on our way there.
Blangkon we bought is — unsurprisingly — too small for Michael.
  Village scenes.



 As we were leaving, the sign on the workplace/shop of Ibu Sarjuni caught our eye: her business card reads Batik Tulis Asli (authentic hand-drawn batik). A good day for her, a good day for us. We bought three sarong-length finished pieces and one work-in-progress, a dye step from being complete, to demonstrate the wax process.
   This piece with a ship motif, originally sketched by Ibu Sarjuni's grandfather when he saw it in a harbor, was Michael's choice.
  Admired but didn't buy this.
 Inscription on an award Ibu Sarjuni won in 1992, presented in the name of President Suharto.
Close-ups: the exuberant designs and painstaking workmanship of the pieces we purchased.

Ibu Sarjuni gave us a hunk of wax and a canting, with which the molten wax is applied.
Ibu Sarjuni with husband, son, and father. Grandpa is 97 and was happily puffing away on a cigarette, stubbed out before we took these photos. Unfortunately, I suspect he's an inspiration for Michael. . . .
On Monday, in the last few hours before hastening to the airport, we visited the batik museum described before and managed to fit in one last shop, Batik Plentong, that our driver Bagus remembered from his childhood. Michael picked out another shirt for that pie-in-the-sky cucu (grandchild, pronounced choo-choo) and I latched onto these modern batik tulis designs, now framed. Where they'll go, I have no idea. The colors only match our present bedroom in London, soon to be redecorated in bronze and grey instead of sage green and mauve.

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