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Ceremonial Lower Body Wrapper (kain dodot) with Design of a “Sprouting Growth” (sěmèn) Motif

Artist Culture
late 19th–early 20th century
Plain-weave cotton with hand-drawn wax resist decoration (batik tulis) with natural dyes
Made in
Surakarta, Central Java province, Indonesia, Asia
Costume & clothing, textiles
Current Location
Not on view
84 in. × 125 1/2 in. (213.4 × 318.8 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
Made of two lengths sewn together, this ceremonial garment is an overskirt worn folded and wrapped around the waist. It is traditionally used only by Javanese royalty, by the bride and groom at weddings, or at other ceremonial court occasions. It has an overall design of stylized plants, animals, pavilions, and wings of Garuda, a bird-like creature from Hindu mythology. Together these images form a variation of the sěmèn motif, a “spouting growth” design representative of the rich symbolism of Javanese cosmology. This design is one of the “forbidden” patterns originally restricted to use by the aristocracy at court. The combination of natural plant dyes seen here is typical of Surakarta in central Java, especially at its royal court. Two shades of soga brown dye, made from the bark of the soga or yellow flame tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum) are juxtaposed against a background of indigo blue dye, which is usually made from the leaves of the Java indigo (Marsdenia tinctoria).
- 1926
George Schulein (b.1887), New York, NY

1926 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from George Schulein [1]

[1] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, December 10, 1926.
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