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Girl’s Breast Cloth (kemben) with Design of the “Drizzling Rain” (udan liris) Motif

Artist Culture
Plain-weave cotton with hand-drawn wax-resist decoration (batik tulis) with natural dyes and stitch-dyeing decoration (tritik) with synthetic dyes
Made in
Surakarta, Central Java province, Indonesia, Asia
Costume & clothing, textiles
Current Location
Not on view
13 × 54 3/4 in. (33 × 139 cm)
Credit Line
William K. Bixby Trust for Asian Art, by exchange
Public Domain
Object Number
A striking, elongated diamond shape occupies the center of this textile. The artist tie-dyed the fabric in synthetic pink with tritik (a stitch-resist technique), whereby a needle and thread are used to stitch and then pull taut areas intended to resist certain dye colors. The surrounding field features nine different repeating patterns of natural brown dyes in diagonal bands called udan liris or drizzling rain, a symbol of fertility. It is unusual to find tie-dye with batik and the udan liris pattern combined. At the royal courts in central Java, ceremonial dress for women included a long, narrow breast cloth or torso wrap such as this one that covered the upper body. This small cloth may have been worn by a young girl or left in the ocean as a sacrificial offering to Ratu Kidul, Goddess of the South Sea.
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