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Woman’s Breast Cloth (kemben) with Design of the “Brooding Hens” (babon angrem) Motif

Artist Culture
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
21 1/4 × 102 3/8 in. (54 × 260 cm)
Credit Line
William K. Bixby Trust for Asian Art, by exchange
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Object Number
A hand-drawn wax-resist pattern of bird’s wings and plants adorns this woman’s cotton breast cloth or torso wrap. This traditional design from the central Javanese royal court of Surakarta is known as babon angrem (brooding hens). Here it surrounds a large wide diamond known as sindangan (beam of light) lined along the inner edge by a row of lotus leaves or flames. The somber colors come from natural dark indigo and soga brown dyes typical of Surakarta. The babon angrem pattern, which remains popular today, consists of a stylized image of a brooding hen that symbolizes newlyweds’ hopes for a blissful marriage, children, and everlasting good health.
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