Classical Batik of Central Java

This blog is intended to show my collections as an admiration to the classical batik of Surakarta (a.k.a. Solo) which is one of supreme example of art forms developed in Java, specifically Central Java (Vorstenlanden). A classical batik is a painting or a form of writing on cotton cloth which requires many stages and complicated process. There are several types of batik such as batik tulis (hand-painted batik), batik cap (copper-stamped batik), and batik printing (machine-printed batik). Only hand-painted batik which traditionally processed is the real batik. Up to now, batik is still worn in formal, ceremonial occasions.

Collections shown in this blog were 100% hand-painted and purely processed with traditional techniques. The newest collection was made in 1986. Some of them were made by a well-known master batikmaker: Nyai Bei Mardusari who was also known as a great traditional Javanese singer and dancer of Mangkunegaran Palace in Surakarta and the wife of King Mangkunegara VII, and other great masters such as Maria Noor of Jogjakarta, R.Ay. Sadwoto, and Nyai Bei Pranowo. All batiks exposed here are still in a mint and well-preserved condition.

Most of the collections were finished in babaran kanjengan style which can be identified by its mild/soft/low contrast visual impression. Babaran kanjengan has long been considered as batik finishing style preferred by royal family and high society.

Newly made classical batik in a high quality is somewhat rare in the open market today since the most of them are lack in the fineness of craftsmanship. I do not, however, disagree that there are wonderful classical batiks being made right now. Indeed, I suspect that the art of classical batikmaking was in something of a renaissance before 1990’s.

My point is simply that there is an incredible amount of rubbish being made these days and much of that rubbish is being passed off as quality work. In other words, newly made classical batiks in many cases have lost their soul, inner beauty, and lack of character. It is a consequence of commercial-based production which pays no attention to dedication.

I do not consider myself as a batik expert/connoisseur. Therefore, suggestions, critics, and comments are strongly needed.

Photos presented here are merely snapshots, taken using cheap digital camera. Please allow me some time to show them in more details. I certainly need a Leica and Summilux lenses or Hasselblad to translate their soul into pictures :).

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