Pesisir Batik (Surakarta & Lasem)

Indonesia, Central Java, Surakarta, Lasem
Woman’s Hip Wrapper (Kain Panjang Kepala Tumpal, Kain Sisihan, Kain Prada), circa 1900-circa 1910
Textile, Hand-drawn wax resist (batik) on machine-woven cotton, natural dyes and applied gold leaf, 42 1/4 x 103 in. (107.3 x 261.6 cm)
Inger McCabe Elliott Collection (M.91.184.326)

Batik such as this sumptuous kain sisihan were used at Javanese and Peranakan wedding as part of the dowry or as a gift from the groom’s family. As the end borders remain unhemmed and the prada is characteristically Sumatran, this particular cloth was probably worn by a Sumantran bride. The rich detail of filler motifs, the vibrant and contrasting use of red, blue, and cream, together with the evocation of the fragrance of orange blossoms and shimmering layer of gold make this cloth fit for queen. Some of the leaves suggest the symbolically protective centipede, which occurs undisguished in the papan. The myriad fauna that can be glimpsed among the profuse growth are a north coast interpretation of a traditional pattern that forms part of the central Javanese design vocabulary under the name of alas-alasan. Combining all flying, walking, and creeping creatures in nature, it has cosmological overtones.

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