The Masterpieces of Batik Peranakan Made by Kwee Liem Hok Workshop

Kwee Liem Hok (Indonesia, Java)
Woman’s Hip Wrapper (Sarung Encim), circa 1930
Textile, Hand-drawn and stamped wax resist (batik) on machine-woven cotton, synthetic dyes, stamped signature, 42 x 76 1/4 in. (106.7 x 193.6 cm)
Inger McCabe Elliott Collection (M.91.184.173)

The fragrance of the cempaka flower, like love, was said to have an intoxicating effect. Combined in this design with the Parang Menang, this batik may have been offered as a gift from groom’s family to a Peranakan bride. Encim (Chinese for aunt) would have been the term of address used by her husband’s nephews and nieces once she came to live in their compound. This particular combination of pastel tones was suited to the young bride recently added to the household, hence sarung encim (sarung for the aunt). In Peranakan families adhering to Javanese customs, the Cempaka Mulya motif, which is associated the lotus, could be worn by the mothers of both bride and groom (Elliott, 1984). The colors in this cloth, however, seem a shade too light for that purpose. The design shows a modern variation on a traditional theme which still incorporates all the defining elements. The paired “lotus” trees represent wishes for a close relationship between families and a happy marriage. The background motifs add an aristocratic Javanese association. The Parang Menang also contributes the wish that the wedding ceremony and marriage successful.

Elliott, I.M. (1984). Batik: Fabled Cloth of Java. (New York: Clarkson N. Potter).

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