Silk Roads Series: Traditional Batik

Silk Roads: Traditional Batik by Jewel K. Goode

Oscar Lawalata Culture, the Indonesian Batik Foundation (YBI), and Rumah Pesona Kain jointly curated the exhibition entitled, “Batik for the World”, at the UNESCO HQ in Paris from 6-12 June 2018.  A collection of 100 batik cloths were transported from various parts of Indonesia and exhibited on-site.  Through colorful displays and discussions, the weeklong event offered a platform that increased awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of Indonesian batik on the local and international levels.  Thus, its history, embedded cultural values, craftsmanship, and development along the maritime Silk Roads were highlighted.  In addition, visitors could partake in informal workshops, where they were able to witness the batik-making process involving “malam” (hot, liquid wax), “canting” (copper wax pen with a bamboo handle), “wajan” (liquid wax receptacle), and other tools used by skilled artisans who help to promote its safeguarding.  Moreover, the exhibition showcased batik textile creations by contemporary designers Oscar Lawalata, Edward Hutabarat and Denny Wirawan during a fashion show that celebrated the diversity of Indonesian regions, batik processing methods, natural coloring, embroidery, and fabrics.

Indonesian batik was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2009, and has been internationally recognized as an historical fabric of human civilization. It is thought to be over 1000 years old, with historical evidence pointing to its use in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.  Although the actual origins of batik are unknown, it is believed to have been transported to Asia by way of the Indian subcontinent.  “Batik” is derived from an Indonesian-malay word, which is now often used as a generic term referring to the process of dyeing fabric.  The process is traditionally performed on cotton and silk using a resist technique.  This includes covering areas of cloth with a dye-resistant substance in order to prevent color absorption.  Those areas not covered are able to absorb deep hues.  Thus, the fabric is both durable and fade-resistant.  Other batik methods also exist, such as the splash method, the screen printing process, and the hand-painting methods.

Batik is considered to have reached the height of its artistic expression in Java during the 19th century.  Recognizable motifs, patterns, and colors often designated family, social status, and geographic origin.  Traditional colors for Central Javanese batik were made from natural ingredients, and consisted primarily of blue, brown, beige, and black.  Some designs include Kawung, or intersecting circles, Ceplok, geometric designs, Parang, or “knife pattern”, and Prada cloth, a batik decorated with gold leaf or gold dust.  These prints were inspired by Japanese, Indian, Chinese, and Dutch influence, which resulted in the richness of the color and motifs.  The art of batik later spread to the rest of the Indonesian archipelago, and then to the Malay Peninsula.  Due to its popularity, more production centers were subsequently created.  Although most batik fabric is now decorated and tailored by machine, there is still a desire for traditional textiles that are of the highest quality and hand-made.  Today, skilled artisans, educational programs like those initiated in 2005 by the Batik Museum in Pekalongan City, Indonesia, as well as similar exhibitions, continue to transmit batik cultural heritage, which helps preserve its maritime Silk Roads legacy.

Author: Jewel K. Goode.  Global Communications Specialist, Writer, Art Curator, and Photographer

image © Evans Winanda Wirg

sources provided upon request

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Newsletter N.2: Fall Edition

Newsletter N.2, Fall Edition 2015

Pont des Arts. Paris, France. © Jewel K. Goode. 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Pont des Arts. Paris, France. © Jewel K. Goode. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

I am very pleased to announce the publication of Newsletter N.2, Fall Edition 2015.  Since arriving in Paris, I have been continually inspired by the city’s beauty, elegance, and charm.  Long strolls along the Seine, through medieval cobblestone streets, and down the stately Champs-Élysées, have left me breathless.  The Paris Reflections blog series serves as an autobiographical and photographic journey through the City of Light.  Currently available editions: N.1: Palais-Royal, Comédie-Française, and the Pyramide du Louvre, N.2: Domaine de Chantilly and exhibition at Musée Condé, “Le Siècle de François 1er,” N.3: Sainte-Chapelle, Palais de la Cité, and N.4: Musée de Cluny.

The purpose of the Paris Reflections blog series is to inform you of current activities, events, and exhibitions in the art world.  It is my hope that they will be the impetus to initiate provocative discussions, encourage thoughtful expression, stimulate creativity, and provide invaluable learning experiences for the globalized community.  Art should be the embodiment of many things, and it is necessarily subjective. Each individual has a unique perspective of the world which affects their particular viewing experience.  Emphasizing the socio-cultural, historical, and political significance of various artistic traditions will help to promote a deeper understanding of art, photography, architecture, design, and fashion.

Future Newsletters will be accompanied by relevant links to photographic essays, brief informational texts, and critiques. This is essential, since active participation in extensive research and art analyses are both necessary components for effective curatorial procedure. Interviews with art world professionals including museum directors, curators, gallery owners, and independent artists will be conducted, when possible. In addition, customized gifts, calendars, and other products will be available in the near future.

Lastly, I am pleased to announce that the 2015 publication of my PARIS photo book is now available for purchase.  It is a visually compelling collection of powerful photographic essays, and provides a romantic journey through the streets of Paris.  The book is delightfully composed of beautiful, vibrant images of people, pastries, monuments, and daily life.  Find it on the following sites: Blurb hardback and e-book editions, Amazon, and in the Apple iBookstore.

Jewel Kismet Designs continues to flourish, thanks to increased visibility through various social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Thoroughly embracing these innovative approaches allows art to be discovered from a fresh, modern perspective. It is my hope that active engagement with an international audience not only increases visual arts access to the general public, but also enriches the lives of the globalized community.

Thank you for your support.


Jewel K. Goode, Independent Curator, Photographer, and Educator