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Woman’s Tubular Skirt (kain sarung) with Design of Phoenixes, Flowers, and Leaves

Artist Culture
late 19th–early 20th century
Plain-weave cotton with hand-drawn wax resist decoration (batik tulis) with natural dyes
Made in
Semarang, Central Java province, Indonesia, Asia
Costume & clothing, textiles
Current Location
Not on view
41 × 74 in. (104.1 × 188 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. George O. Carpenter
Public Domain
Object Number
The kepala (head) section at left in this textile features an intricate patchwork-like design composed of differently sized triangles flanked by two vertical panels with small birds, flowers, and leaves. On the badan (body) of the fabric at right are Chinese-style phoenixes in flight amidst floral sprays. A blue zig-zag border with red flowers, derived from European lace design, runs along the lower edge. The striking color combinations on this batik are known in Java as a bang biru (red-blue). The red dye is obtained from the root bark of the Indian mulberry (Morinda citrifolia) combined with other natural materials. The blue dye comes from the Java indigo (Indigofera tinctoria). The open layout and expressionistic motifs, such as the naturalistic flowers and leaves with fanciful phoenixes and other birds, echo European and Chinese styles. These foreign influences existed in the cosmopolitan city of Semarang, which had become a trading port of the Dutch East India Company in 1678.
- 1940
Mrs. George O. Carpenter [Caroline G. Carpenter (1858–1948)], St. Louis, MO, USA

1940 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Mrs. George O. Carpenter [1]

[1] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, November 7, 1940.
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