- Plain-weave cotton with hand-drawn wax-resist decoration (batik tulis) with natural dyes and applied gold leaf (prada)
This exhibition presents 20 hand-drawn batik textiles from Java, the most populous island in the archipelago nation of Indonesia. Batik refers to the technically and artistically demanding tradition of wax-resist dying as well as the cloth made using this technique. Hot liquid wax is applied to intricate designs on finely spun, tightly woven cotton or silk before the fabric is dyed; the areas covered by wax resist the dye. This meticulous, painstaking process is repeated numerous times until the desired pattern and colors are achieved.
Though practiced around the world, batik originated in Indonesia, and the artisans of Java are renowned for having mastered and refined the technique. The textiles in this exhibition include pieces made for royal and aristocratic clientele, ceremonial use, and everyday fabrics worn by men and women. These textiles, from the mid-19th century through the late 20th century, originate from the most significant centers of Javanese batik production, including the old royal courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta in central Java and Pekalongan on the island’s north coast. Drawn from the Museum’s collection, the works in this exhibition include the first batik textile that the Museum acquired in 1922 and a selection acquired in 2018.
Javanese Batik Textiles is curated by Philip Hu, curator of Asian art.