Basic Material: Cotton Cloth

Toward the end of the eighteenth century machine-woven English cloth came to replace the handwoven Indian fabrics that for at least one hundred years had served as the base material for batik worn by the Javanese Aristocracy. The heavy quality of English muslin, with its high thread count, was especially appraciated on the Pasisir, where, as a rule, handwoven cotton had been used. After 1830, with the eastern Netherlands developing as an industrial weaving area, the Dutch, aided by substantial government subsidies, succeeded in establishing supremacy in cotton imports into the archipelago. This situation continued untul 1942 and the commencement of war in the Pacific, though due to their much lower prices considerable competition from Japanese cotton imports into the archipelago had been felt for several decades.

Regardless of where it was produced, the fabric was sold by the piece in widths of 38-42 inches (approx. 1-1.1 m), specially woven to form the height of a hip wrapper, and mostly in lengths of 15 yards (13.7 m). Prime-quality fabric, the so-called Primissima, measured 16.5 yards (15 m) (Oostmeijer). Two particular types were famous in Java: the first identified by its trademark Cent, or Sen (the local pronounciation of cent), the smallest denomination Dutch coin, a picture of which, Cap Sen, was stamped in each length; the second known by its trademark Cap Jangkrik, or grasshopper. The bolts of Primissima could be recognized by red and light brown weft stripes, the so-called heading, woven into the face plait, which formed the outer section of the piece when it was rolled (Thomas & den Otter, 1994). The number 16, embroidered in red with a tambour needle, constituted a second mark of identification. Both the weft stripe and the numerals 16 were visible on top of the bolt when its blue paper wrapping was removed.

Cited from: Heringa, H. (2000). Materials and techniques. In Fabric of enchantment: Batik from the north coast of Java. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art).


Oostmeijer, J.J.B. Handleiding bij het schatten samengesteld ten hehoeve van het personeel van den pandhuisdienst. (Batavia: Albrecht).

Thomas, M.S., & Den Otter, P. (1994). Twentse tjaps, Textielhistorische Bijdragen, 34.

No comments: