Senin, 28 Februari 2011


Trowulan - Former Capital City of Majapahit Kingdom
Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party.

The Trowulan site is the only city site of the Hindu-Budha classical age in Indonesia that can still be found. The site covers an area of 11 km x 9 km, which includes the Districts of Trowulan and Sooko within the Regency of Mojokerto and the Districts of Mojoagung and Mojowarno under the Jombang Regency. The site of the former capital city of the Majapahit Kingdom was built on flat terrains at the foot of three mountains, namely the Penanggungan, Welirang, and Anjasmara Mountain. Geographically, the Trowulan area was suitable for human settlement since it was supported by plane topography with relatively shallow ground water. Hundreds of thousands of archaeological remnants of the old city in the Trowulan Site were found buried underground as well as on the surface in the form of: artifacts, eco-facts, and features.

The intriguing site of the remains of Majapahit Kingdom was discovered through extensive and lengthy research. The first research on the Trowulan Site was conducted by Wardenaar in 1815. Assigned by Sir Raffles, Wardenaar made records of the archaeological relics in the Mojokerto Area and his work was cited in Raffles' book the "History of Java" (1817) which exposed the various archaeological objects found in Trowulan from the Majapahit Kingdom. In 1849, a team of archaeologists, W.R. van Hovell, J.V.G. Brumund, and Jonathan Rigg published their research in the "Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia". Another book on the findings of Trowulan titled "Toelichting over den Ouden Pilaar van Majapahit" was written by J. Hageman in 1858. Later on, R.D.M. Verbeek made a site visit to Trowulan and issued a report in an article titled "Oudheden van Majapahit in 1815 en 1887", published in TBG XXXIII in 1889. Further research was done by R.A.A. Kromodjojo Adinegoro a Regent (Head) of Mojokerto Regency (1849-1916) who had great concern on the Archaeological Heritage in Trowulan. He excavated the old water system that was named the "Tikus" Temple or the Mouse Temple and Adinegoro also initiated the establishment of the Mojokerto Museum that housed the archaeological artifacts of the Majapahit Kingdom. Meanwhile, J. Knebel, a member of the Comissie voor Oudheidkundig Orderzoek op Java en Madura in 1907 documented the archaeological heritage of Trowulan. Another scholar, N.J. Krom, reviewed the Heritage from the Majapahit Kingdom in Trowulan in his book Inleiding tot de Hindoe Javaansche Kunst (1923).

More intensive Research was conducted upon the establishment of the Oudheidkundige Vereeneging Majapahit (OVM) in 1924 initiated by R.A.A. Kromodjojo Adinegoro in collaboration with a Dutchman by the name of Ir. Henry Maclaine Pont with an office in Trowulan. This office was designated as a museum to house and exhibit heritage objects from the Majapahit era. Between 1921-1924, Maclaine Pont led an excavation in Trowulan to verify the data from the Nagarakartagama manuscript and provided an early reconstruction sketch of Majapahit city in Trowulan.

Stutterheim who conducted research on the structure of the capital city of Majapahit Kingdom also used the manuscript of Nagarakartagama Pupuh VIII - XII as the main reference and concluded that the city planning of the Majapahit Palace is analogous to that of the Yogyakarta and Surakarta Palace. Further study shows that the construction in the palace complex resembles the design of the Balinese palace compound (Stutterheim, 1948).

Further research was conducted by the National Centre for Archaeology Research (Puslit Arkenas) in the 1970s until 1993. The Research Center continued the search for more evidence of the old city through archaeological excavation using the clues (names of places) found in the manuscript of Nagarakartagama as a reference or based on the new findings that were discovered by the local people. The research at that time applied a sporadic strategy and it was found that the Trowulan Site was an accumulation of various artifacts not only showing evidence of human settlement but also other sites used for ceremonial activities, rituals, sanctuaries, industrial activities, slaughter house, burials, rice fields, markets, water canals and reservoirs. These sites divided the city into smaller regions that are connected by a road system. However, the results from this research have not been able to provide a complete portrait of the entire city of Majapahit as depicted by Prapanca in his literature writing in Nagarakartagama.

A more comprehensive understanding of the Trowulan Site was acquired through the aerial photograph of the site taken by the Geography Team of Gadjah Mada University showing that the Trowulan Site was a city that had a canal system. Since 1926, various studies have revealed that the Trowulan Site had 18 large and small dams connected to an irrigation system with wide and narrow channels. From the aerial view of the old city of Majapahit, it can be observed that the ancient water canals were symmetrically built and seemingly have shaped the city.

Year after year, more research and preservation activities were conducted on the Trowulan Site not only by the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation of East Java, that is responsible for conserving the site, but also by other institutions and academicians who have concern towards the heritage of the glorious Majapahit Kingdom in the Trowulan Site. As time progresses, many building sites and remnants of human settlement have been excavated, restored, maintained and utilized such as the Mouse Temple (Candi Tikus), Gateway of Bajangratu, Baru Temple, Gentong Temple, the Gateway of Wringinlawang, Kedaton Temple, and the Sentonorejo Settlement.

Thousands of artifacts from the Trowulan Site have been discovered and preserved. Most of these artifacts discovered by experts and those found by the local community are maintained at the Majapahit Information Centre or known as Pusat Informasi Majapahit (PIM). The Majapahit artifacts are classified based on the material substance of the artifacts:

a. Terracotta Artifacts (made from earthenware clay) consist of: 1) Sculptures/Statues or human statues (featuring different races such as Chinese, Indian, Arabic); 2) Domestic appliances such as water carafe, water tubs, piggy-banks; 3) Production tools, among others: statue molds, kowi (mold of metal good, made from clay); and 4) Elements of buildings and housings such as miniature houses, pillars as a maquette, roof tiles, peaks, water pipes, and jaladwara (temple's water channel).

b. Ceramic artifacts (made from ceramics) such as plates, bowls, vases, spoons either locally made or from foreign origins.

c. Metal artifacts (made from metal) among others: coins both locally made and from foreign origins, tools used for ceremonies such as bells, mirrors, zodiac baker, incense burning.

d. Stone artifacts (made from andesite or tuff) such as relief, statues and stone tablets.

Analyzing these various artifacts, many researchers then studied further the civilization of the Majapahit era, related to various aspects such as the economy system, religion, literature, technology, art, law, agriculture and environment. The results from this study and in-depth research have enriched the wealth of knowledge on the findings of the Majapahit Kingdom and have enabled the experts to reconstruct the civilization of that time.

Based on the scattered heritage findings both in the forms of the remains of ancient buildings and human settlements as well as individual artifacts, Nurhadi Rangkuti then proposed a hypothesis that the area of the capital city of Majapahit in Trowulan covered an area of 9 x 11 square km. This hypothesis applies the analogy of the city pattern in the Islamic Mataram age that designates a mosque as the landmark for the borders of the kingdom. Assuming that culture is a process of continued diffusion, the city of the Majapahit Kingdom must have been based on a city planning concept that may be similar to that of the Mataram Kingdom.

The results from this extensive research in The Trowulan Site evidently shows that the Trowulan Site is the location of the remains of the capital city of the Majapahit Kingdom for more than 200 years between the 13th - 15th century AD, and this site is valued as an important part of Indonesia's historical and cultural journey of civilization.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

(i) Represent a masterpiece of human creative genius

The diverse artifacts that support the Trowulan Site as the capital city of Majapahit Kingdom can be observed until today. The archaeological remains and thousands of artifacts discovered in The Trowulan Site are strong indications that Trowulan was a modern city at that time.

From the archaeological evidence found in that site, it can be concluded that the capital city of the Majapahit Kingdom in the Trowulan Site was built through a process of deliberation and done by thorough planning with detailed and modern architecture that promotes local wisdom in caring for the environment. This provides proof of the accumulation of knowledge and ideas from a sophisticated civilization of the ancestors of Indonesians in the 12th and 14th century AD.

Several experts studied the Trowulan Site to interpret the various possible reasons for choosing this area as the capital city for the Majapahit Kingdom in the past. The following are some of the considerations:

a. This region is a very fertile area since there were volcanic quarter sediments containing sand or gravel pyroc clastica. These materials originated from the volcano in the southern part of the area that is known as the Arjuna Complex consisting of the volcanic mountains of Anjasmoro, Welirang, and Penanggunangan. The Anjasmoro Mountain is the oldest volcano in the area that has shifted. Being unstable, the rocks of the mountain may move. These moving rocks become volcanic mud flow when rain hits the area and develops into a fan-shaped fluvio volcanic sediments. From this analysis, it can be concluded that the Trowulan area is located at the tip of the fluvio volcanic fan. Furthermore, supported by the water shed of the Ginting River and the Brangkal River and having a flat topography that is rich with fluvio volcanic sediments, this area provides stable and fertile resources to sustain the livelihood of the people.

b. Having close proximity to the water sheds of the Brantas River and other smaller rivers, the Trowulan area has easy access with other regions.

c. The systematically built canals dissecting the city of Majapahit are the results from wise deliberation and advanced civilization showing concern for the environment. Earlier studies have shown that the climate in that age in the Trowulan area and its surrounding has not significantly changed compared to the present tropical rain climate that is categorized as an AW type. According to Koppen, under this type of climate, the high rain fall in the rainy months cannot compensate for the low rain fall in the dry season. (Sutikno, 1993). Under this condition, the Trowulan area and its surrounding may experience 4 to 6 months of drought in a year. Despite having two rivers - Gunting River and Brangkal River, in the dry season the volume of these two rivers may shrink and the opposite happens in the rainy season. Floods may occur and develop the fluvio volcanic fan (Sutikno, 1993). Therefore, the installment of a canal system is certainly justified.

With 20 to 40 meter-wide canals crossing the Majapahit region, the city was designed under an organized pattern with buildings situated in certain parts of the city.

Having such a well-planned city, Majapahit evidently was the centre for the government. The network of canals in the Trowulan Site criss-crossed the city almost perpendicularly. Apparently Majapahit city was developed based on a pattern of a chess board that was shaped by the relatively straight and perpendicular canals stretching from the north to south and from the west to east. The course of the canals was not necessarily parallel to the earth's north-south magnetic axis. The canals were slightly shifted -100 to the right, clockwise in the Cartesian quadran. It appears that the canals were adjusted to the geographical condition. Judging from the distance of the canal grids in the map, in the western part, the north-south canals were located relatively closer to each other compared to those built in the eastern part. This shows that in the zones where the canals were relatively close, this area was utlized for settlement, the city centre and the king's palace. Meanwhile, the east-west canals that were built straight and intersecting the central part of the canal system provided evidence that there was a link for socio-cultural activities connecting the eastern, western, northern and southern parts to the central part of the city. The canals were also linked to a network of roads that were built parallel to the canals either on one or both sides of the canals.

Research results show that the canal system and the water constructions built in the Majapahit era served as an irrigation facility for agriculture and were used to channel water into the reservoirs. Trowulan had five reservoirs namely the Baureno Dam, Kumitir Dam, Domas Dam, Temon Dam, Kraton Dam and the Kedung Wulan Dam. In addition to these dams, Trowulan had three man-made ponds closely positioned, namely the Balong Bunder, Balong Dowo, and the Segaran Pond. These dams functioned as water reservoirs, to control flood, and to manage the humidity of the area.

d. As a city, the Trowulan Site holds numerous cultural heritages of various aspects of livelihood -both sacral and profane- that are interesting to be further studied. The architecture and the sculpture of the relief on the heritage structures in Trowulan Site display the expertise of the architects and the craftsmen in integrating exotic culture with the local culture.

(v) Be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in traditional human settlement, land use, or marine culture that shows the interaction of a culture (or cultures), or the interaction of humans with nature, especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

In the past, historians and experts on cultural studies have only scrutinized the ancient structures of the Hindu-Buddhist era in Indonesia. Archaeologists and architects tend to focus on sacral buildings commonly known as temples. Meanwhile, only little attention has been given to the study of non-temple structures such as human settlement, since no complete structure of human settlement has ever been discovered. As a matter of fact, from several studies, it shows that not far from the temples, there are traces of human settlement around the complex of the temple structure that have been identified. Mundardjito et al have discovered the remnants of a settlement towards the south of Bawongan Temple in 1976, and uncovered a settlement site around the Borobudur Temple compound, located in the upper grounds and a settlement in the south and southwest of the temple lower grounds of Borobudur Temple in the 1970-s. Observing these findings, Boechari in his article titled "Temples and its Environment", proposed a hypothesis that temples as a worship place do not stand alone. Along with these temples that serve as a center for rituals, there are settlements for the local people, the priests and caretakers of the temples (Boechari, 1977).

In addition to the ancient settlements within the proximity of the temples, Indonesia has an archaeological site that clearly displays the remains of a human settlement in the scale of a city -the Trowulan Site- in Mojokerto, East Java. Having such wide area coverage, the Trowulan site houses a wealth of heritage in the form of temples, gateways, water structures, reservoirs, canal system, construction elements, thousands of terracotta and ceramic tools used for domestic purposes. Among these findings, there were many sites of the remains of human settlement that were also revealed. According to Soekmono, from the many Hindu-Buddhist Kingdoms in Indonesia that existed before the Islamic Kingdoms (prior to 1500 AD), only the Majapahit Kingdom (14th to 16th century AD) has provided relics of human settlement in the Trowulan Site. Yielding such a rich heritage, the Trowulan site is considered by many experts as very important and rare.

Satements of authenticity and/or integrity
The Trowulan Site possesses many significant values as follows:

1. The Trowulan Site has an indispensable scientific value as a source of analogy to study the past.

The city of Majapahit is one of the examples of a classical city settlement in Indonesia that serves as a benchmark for studying other ancient cities in South East Asia and more ancient cities in Indonesia (ancient Mataram) in terms of spatial planning and environmental management and other aspects.

2. The Trowulan Site has relative and technical values.

The main elements of the settlement of Majapahit city such as the Segaran Pond, the canals are evidence that tehre is significant understanding of hydraulic technology and high value of art in terms of concepts, techniques and methods already acquired by the ancestors of Indonesians in the past.

3. The Trowulan Site has a strong identity as well as social values

The settlement in Majapahit city is closely related to a continuum of traditional settlement of the Balinese culture in the later age, in which both settlements indicate the indigenous agrarian way of life of Indonesians.

4. The Trowulan Site has educational value.

The settlement of Majapahit city has great potential to be further developed as an education media for the present and future generation. It may serve as a means to carry forward the values of local wisdom that reflects the tradition to understand and balance culture with nature conservation.

Comparison with other similar properties
The city pattern of Trowulan has no similar match since it is the only comprehensive heritage site that can be found in Indonesia.


Situs Museum Trinil dalam penelitian merupakan salah satu tempat hunian kehidupan purba pada zaman Pleistosen Tengah, kurang lebih 1,5 juta tahun yang lalu. Situs Trinil ini amat penting sebab di situs ini selain ditemukan data manusia purba juga menyimpan bukti konkrit tentang lingkungannya, baik flora maupun faunanya.
Museum Trinil terletak di Jalan Raya Solo – Surabaya, Pedukuhan Pilang, Desa Kawu, Kecamatan Kedunggalar, kurang lebih 13 kilometer arah barat pusat kota Ngawi, dan untuk mencapai lokasi ini dapat ditempuh dengan semua jenis kendaraan. Sayang sekali di jalan arteri yang bisa menjadi petunjuk utama, tidak ada satupun patokan yang bisa mengarahkan kita ke Museum tersebut. Kalau bertanya sama seseorang hanya dijawab, “ Pokoknya belok ke gang yang ada gapura hitamnya,”. Akhirnya setelah bertanya selama dua kali, sampailah kami di lokasi museum.

Pintu gerbang museum yang sangat sederhana terlihat setelah masuk ke dalam 1 km dari jalan raya utama, kemudian kami melapor ke pos penjaga untuk membayar tiket masuk. Memang luar biasa murah kalau boleh dikatakan, bayangkan untuk melihat peradaban jutaan tahun yang lalu hanya dikenakan biaya masuk seribu rupiah per orang. Ketika masuk ke lokasi parkir, kesan pertama yang timbul adalah bahwa museum ini kurang optimal perawatannya, terutama dalam hal fasilitas dan kebersihan.

Masuk ke dalam museum kami mendapati ruangan yang dipenuhi dengan tulang-tulang manusia purba. Diantaranya adalah : fosil tengkorak manusia purba ( Phitecantropus Erectus Cranium Karang Tengah Ngawi ), fosil tengkorak manusia purba (Pithecantropus Erectus Cranium Trinil Area), fosil tulng rahang bawah macan (Felis Tigris Mandi Bula Trinil Area), fosil gigi geraham atas gajah (Stegodon Trigonocephalus Upper Molar Trinil Area), fosil tulang paha manusia purba (Phitecantropus Erectus Femur Trinil Area), fosil tanduk kerbau (Bubalus Palaeokerabau Horn Trinil Area), fosil tanduk banteng (Bibos Palaeosondaicus Horn Trinil Area) dan fosil gading gajah purba (Stegodon Trigonocephalus Ivory Trinil Area).

Disamping itu masih ada beberapa fosil tengkorak : Australopithecus Afrinacus Cranium Taung Bostwana Afrika Selatan, Homo Neanderthalensis Cranium Neander Dusseldorf Jerman dan Homo Sapiens Cranium. Selain fosil-fosil tengkorak yang tersebut hal yang menarik lainnya adalah, adanya sebuah tugu tempat penemuan manusia purba. Dulu tak banyak orang tahu akan makna tugu itu, bahkan kemungkinan besar bisa rusak kalau tidak dpelihara oleh seorang sukarelawan.


[] Museum - Trinil
Pintu masuk museum trinil

Wirodihardjo atau Wiro balung alias Sapari dari Kelurahan Kawu adalah seorang sukarelawan yang menyadari bahwa tugu itu mempunyai makna yang besar dan sangat berguna bagi penelitian selanjutnya. Wajar ia berpendapat begitu, karena ia telah menyaksikan ekspedisi atau penelitian yang dilakukan oleh ilmuwan setelah penggalian yang dilakukan E.Dubois dan Salenka. Orang asing atau mahasiswa datang silih berganti untuk melakukan ekspedisi yang tentunya dengan biaya yang mahal. Oleh karena itu, sebagai putra daerah tersebut, ia merasa ikut bertanggungjawab atas kelestarian tempat itu.

Kehadiran Wirodiharjo di Trinil sangat berarti, karena beliau menjadi tempat untuk bertanya para pengunjung tentang fosil di Trinil. Walaupun tempat tersebut terkenal sebagai daerah fosil, namun kenyataan waktu itu tidak satupun fosil yang ada di Trinil. Untuk itulah ia mengumpulkan setiap fosil yang ditemukan di sungai Bengawan Solo. Selain itu Pak Wiro juga mendapat laporan dari penduduk sekitar bahwa mereka menemukan fosil. Dari hari ke hari fosil yang dikumpulkan dari tiga desa ; sebelah barat Desa Kawu, sebelah utara Desa Gemarang dan sebelah timur Desa Ngancar bertambah banyak, atas tinjauan Kepala Seksi Kebudayaan Depdikbud Ngawi waktu itu ( Pak Mukiyo ) ia mendapat bantuan tiga buah almari untuk menyimpan fosil-fosil tersebut. Sejak saat itulah Pak Wirodiharjo terkenal dengan sebutan Wiro Balung yang berarti Pak Wiro yang suka mengumpulkan balung-balung ( tulang ).

Dan selanjutnya pada tahun 1980/1981 Pemerintah daerah setempat mendirikan museum untuk menampung fosil-fosil tersebut yang diresmikan oleh Bapak Gubernur Jatim “Soelarso” pada tanggal 20 Nopember 1991. Namun sayang Wiro Balung sudah tiada sejak 1 April 1990 dan keahlian beliau diteruskan oleh anaknya Mas Sujono ( 37 ) yang sekarang menjad juru kunci Museum Trinil. Selain dari diorama yang ada, Mas Sujono juga banyak memberikan keterangan tambahan kepada kami.

Diantara tambahan keterangan Mas Sujono yang sangat penting adalah,”Bahwasannya Trinil merupakan daerah padang savanna pada masa lampau. Kenapa ? karena adanya manusia, banteng, gajah dan hewan-hewan yang lain yang tumbuh di satu area. Hal ini cukup menunjukkan kalau dulu daerah ini adalah savanna. Namun kemudian setelah adanya letusan Gunung Lawu yang berturut-turut hancurlah peradaban yang ada di Trinil dan sekitarnya,” kata Mas Sujono dengan mimik serius. Dengan melihat Museum Trinil suatu kearifan dapat kita tarik dari berbagai temuan para ilmuwan tentang manusia purba. Adalah suatu kenyataan bahwa dibalik keanekaragaman wujud kehidupan kita dewasa ini, sesungguhnya ada kesamaan asal-usul kita seluruhnya sebagai manusia.(AMGD)

Minggu, 27 Februari 2011


Batik, the Traditional Fabric of Indonesia
It would be impossible to visit or live in Indonesia and not be exposed to one of the country's most highly developed art forms, batik. On your first visit to a batik store or factory you will undoubtedly experience an overwhelming stimulation of the senses - due to the many colors, patterns and the actual smell of batik. Only through repeated visits and a bit of study will the types of designs and their origins become apparent.

The word batik is thought to be derived from the word 'ambatik' which translated means 'a cloth with little dots'. The suffix 'tik' means little dot, drop, point or to make dots. Batik may also originate from the Javanese word 'tritik' which describes a resist process for dying where the patterns are reserved on the textiles by tying and sewing areas prior to dying, similar to tie dye techniques. Another Javanese phase for the mystical experience of making batik is “mbatik manah” which means “drawing a batik design on the heart”.

A Brief History
Although experts disagree as to the precise origins of batik, samples of dye resistance patterns on cloth can be traced back 1,500 years ago to Egypt and the Middle East. Samples have also been found in Turkey, India, China, Japan and West Africa from past centuries. Although in these countries people were using the technique of dye resisting decoration, within the textile realm, none have developed batik to its present day art form as the highly developed intricate batik found on the island of Java in Indonesia.

Although there is mention of 'fabrics highly decorated' in Dutch transcripts from the 17th century, most scholars believe that the intricate Javanese batik designs would only have been possible after the importation of finely woven imported cloth, which was first imported to Indonesia from India around the 1800s and afterwards from Europe beginning in 1815. Textile patterns can be seen on stone statues that are carved on the walls of ancient Javanese temples such as Prambanan (AD 800), however there is no conclusive evidence that the cloth is batik. It could possibly be a pattern that was produced with weaving techniques and not dying. What is clear is that in the 19th century batik became highly developed and was well ingrained in Javanese cultural life.

Some experts feel that batik was originally reserved as an art form for Javanese royalty. Certainly it's royal nature was clear as certain patterns were reserved to be worn only by royalty from the Sultan's palace. Princesses and noble women may have provided the inspiration for the highly refined design sense evident in traditional patterns. It is highly unlikely though that they would be involved in any more than the first wax application. Most likely, the messy work of dyeing and subsequent waxings was left to court artisans who would work under their supervision.

Javanese royalty were known to be great patrons of the arts and provided the support necessary to develop many art forms, such as silver ornamentation, wayang kulit (leather puppets) and gamelan orchestras. In some cases the art forms overlap. The Javanese dalang (puppeteer) not only was responsible for the wayang puppets but was also an important source of batik patterns. Wayang puppets are usually made of goat skin, which is then perforated and painted to create the illusion of clothing on the puppet. Used puppets were often sold to eager ladies who used the puppets as guides for their batik patterns. They would blow charcoal through the holes that define the patterns of clothing on the puppets, in order to copy the intricate designs onto the cloth.

Other scholars disagree that batik was only reserved as an art form for royalty, as they also feel its use was prevalent with the rakyat, the people. It was regarded an important part of a young ladies accomplishment that she be capable of handling a canting (the pen-like instrument used to apply wax to the cloth) with a reasonable amount of skill, certainly as important as cookery and other housewifery arts to Central Javanese women.

Selection and Preparation of the Cloth for Batik
Natural materials such as cotton or silk are used for the cloth, so that it can absorb the wax that is applied in the dye resisting process. The fabrics must be of a high thread count (densely woven). It is important that cloth of high quality have this high thread count so that the intricate design qualities of batik can be maintained.

The cloth that is used for batik is washed and boiled in water many times prior to the application of wax so that all traces of starches, lime, chalk and other sizing materials are removed. Prior to the implementation of modern day techniques, the cloth would have been pounded with a wooden mallet or ironed to make it smooth and supple so it could best receive the wax design. With the finer machine-made cotton available today, the pounding or ironing processes can be omitted. Normally men did this step in the batik process.

Strict industry standards differentiate the different qualities of the cloth used today, which include Primissima (the best) and Prima. The cloth quality is often written on the edge of the design. A lesser quality cloth which is often used in Blaco.

Batik Design Tools
Although the art form of batik is very intricate, the tools that are used are still very simple. The canting, believed to be a purely Javanese invention, is a small thin wall spouted copper container (sometimes called a wax pen) that is connected to a short bamboo handle. Normally it is approximately 11 cm. in length. The copper container is filled with melted wax and the artisan then uses the canting to draw the design on the cloth.

Canting have different sizes of spouts (numbered to correspond to the size) to achieve varied design effects. The spout can vary from 1 mm in diameter for very fine detailed work to wider spouts used to fill in large design areas. Dots and parallel lines may be drawn with canting that have up to 9 spouts. Sometimes a wad of cotton is fastened over the mouth of the canting or attached to a stick that acts as a brush to fill in very large areas.

For close-up pictures of canting.

The wajan is the container that holds the melted wax. It looks like a small wok. Normally it is made of iron or earthenware. The wajan is placed on a small brick charcoal stove or a spirit burner called an 'anglo'. The wax is kept in a melted state while the artisan is applying the wax to the cloth.

Different kinds and qualities of wax are used in batik. Common waxes used for batik consist of a mixture of beeswax, used for its malleability, and paraffin, used for its friability. Resins can be added to increase adhesiveness and animal fats create greater liquidity.

The best waxes are from the Indonesian islands of Timor, Sumbawa and Sumatra; three types of petroleum-based paraffin (white, yellow and black) are used. The amounts mixed are measured in grams and vary according to the design. Wax recipes can be very closely guarded secrets. Varying colors of wax make it possible to disguise different parts of the pattern through the various dying stages. Larger areas of the pattern are filled in with wax that is cheaper quality and the higher quality wax is used on the more intricately detailed sections of the design.

The wax must be kept at the proper temperature. A wax that is too cool will clog the spout of the canting. A wax that is too hot will flow too quickly and be uncontrollable. The artisan will often blow into the spout of the canting before applying wax to the cloth in order to clear the canting of any obstructions.

Creating batik is a very time consuming craft. To meet growing demands and make the fabric more affordable to the masses, in the mid-19th century the . cap. (copper stamp - pronounced chop) was developed. This invention enabled a higher volume of batik production compared to the traditional method which entailed the tedious application of wax by hand with a canting.

Each cap is a copper block that makes up a design unit. Cap are made of 1.5 cm wide copper stripes that are bent into the shape of the design. Smaller pieces of wire are used for the dots. When complete, the pattern of copper strips is attached to the handle.

The cap must be precisely made. This is especially true if the pattern is to be stamped on both sides of the fabric. It is imperative that both sides of the cap are identical so that pattern will be consistent.

Sometimes cap are welded between two grids like pieces of copper that will make a base for the top and the bottom. The block is cut in half at the center so the pattern on each half is identical. Cap vary in size and shape depending on the pattern they are needed for. It is seldom that a cap will exceed 24 cm in diameter, as this would make the handling too difficult.

Men usually handle the application of wax using cap. A piece of cloth that involves a complicated design could require as many as ten sets of cap. The usage of cap, as opposed to canting, to apply the wax has reduced the amount of time to make a cloth.

Today, batik quality is defined by cap or tulis, the second meaning hand-drawn designs which use a canting, or kombinasi, a combination of the two techniques.

Traditional colors for Central Javanese batik were made from natural ingredients and consisted primarily of beige, blue, brown and black.

The oldest color that was used in traditional batik making was blue. The color was made from the leaves of the Indigo plant. The leaves were mixed with molasses sugar and lime and left to stand overnight. Sometimes sap from the Tinggi tree was added to act as a fixing agent. Lighter blue was achieved by leaving the cloth in the dye bath for short periods of time. For darker colors, the cloth would be left in the dye bath for days and may have been submerged up to 8 - 10 times a day.

In traditional batik, the second color applied was a brown color called soga. The color could range from light yellow to a dark brown. The dye came from the bark of the Soga tree. Another color that was traditionally used was a dark red color called mengkuda. This dye was created from the leaves of the Morinda Citrifolia.

The final hue depended on how long the cloth was soaked in the dye bath and how often it was dipped. Skilled artisans can create many variations of these traditional colors. Aside from blue, green would be achieved by mixing blue with yellow; purple was obtained by mixing blue and red. The soga brown color mixed with indigo would produce a dark blue-black color.

Design Process
The outline of the pattern is blocked out onto the cloth, traditionally with charcoal or graphite. Traditional batik designs utilize patterns handed down over the generations. It is very seldom that an artisan is so skilled that he can work from memory and would not need to draw an outline of the pattern before applying the wax. Often designs are traced from stencils or patterns called pola. Another method of tracing a pattern onto a cloth is by laying the cloth on a glass table that is illuminated from below which casts a shadow of the pattern onto the cloth. The shadow is then traced with a pencil. In large batik factories today, men usually are in charge of drawing the patterns onto the cloth. Click here to see the step-by-step process of making batik.

Once the design is drawn out onto the cloth it is then ready to be waxed. Wax is applied to the cloth over the areas of the design that the artisan wishes to remain the original color of the cloth. Normally this is white or cream.

Female workers sit on a low stool or on a mat to apply the wax with a canting. The fabric that they are working on is draped over light bamboo frames called gawangan to allow the freshly applied wax to cool and harden. The wax is heated in the wajan until it is of the desired consistency. The artisan then dips her canting into the wax to fill the bowl of the canting.

Artisans use the wax to retrace the pencil outline on the fabric. A small drop cloth is kept on the woman. s lap to protect her from hot dripping wax. The stem of the canting is held with the right hand in a horizontal position to prevent any accidental spillage, which greatly reduces the value of the final cloth. The left hand is placed behind the fabric for support. The spout does not touch the fabric, but it held just above the area the artisan is working on. To ensure the pattern is well defined, batik is waxed on both sides. True tulis batik is reversible, as the pattern should be identical on both sides.

The most experienced artisans normally do first waxings. Filling in of large areas may be entrusted to less experienced artisans. Mistakes are very difficult to correct. If wax is accidentally spilt on the cloth, the artisan will try to remove the unwanted wax by sponging it with hot water. Then a heated iron rod with a curved end is used to try and lift off the remaining wax. Spilled wax can never be completely removed so it is imperative that the artisans are very careful.

If the cap method is utilized, this procedure is normally done by men. The cap are dipped into melted wax. Just under the surface of the melted wax is a folded cloth approximately 30 centimeters square. When this cloth is saturated with wax it acts like a stamp pad. The cap is pressed into the fabric until the design side of the cap is coated with wax. The saturated cap is then stamped onto the fabric, leaving the design of the cap. This process is repeated until the entire cloth is covered. Often cap and canting methods are combined on the same piece of cloth.

Better quality batik may be waxed utilizing canting in one part of Indonesia and then sent to another part of Indonesia where the cap part of the process is completed. On better quality cap fabric great care is taken to match the pattern exactly. Lower grade batik is characterized by overlapping lines or lightened colored lines indicating the cap was not applied correctly.

After the initial wax has been applied, the fabric is ready for the first dye bath. Traditionally dying was done in earthenware tubs. Today most batik factories use large concrete vats. Above the vats are ropes with pulleys that the fabric is draped over after it has been dipped into the dye bath.

The waxed fabric is immersed in the dye bath of the first color. The amount of time it is left in the bath determines the hue of the color; darker colors require longer periods or numerous immersions. The fabric is then put into a cold water bath to harden the wax.

When the desired color has been achieved and the fabric has dried, wax is reapplied over the areas that the artisan wishes to maintain the first dye color or another color at a later stage in the dying process.

When an area that has been covered with wax previously needs to be exposed so that it can be dyed, the applied wax is scraped away with a small knife. The area is then sponged with hot water and resized with rice starch before it is re-immersed in the subsequent dye bath.

If a marble effect is desired, the wax is intentionally cracked before being placed in the dye bath. The dye seeps into the tiny cracks that create the fine lines that are characteristic of batik. Traditionally, cracks were a sign of inferior cloth especially on indigo color batik. On brown batik, however, the marble effect was accepted.

The number of colors in batik represents how many times it was immersed in the dye bath and how many times wax had to be applied and removed. A multicolored batik represents a lot more work that a single or two-color piece. Numerous dye processes are usually reflected in the price of the cloth. Nowadays, chemical dyes have pretty much replaced traditional dyes, so colors are endless and much more liberally used.

Special Treatments to the Batik Cloth
Prada or Gold Cloth
For special occasions, batik was formerly decorated with gold lead or gold dust. This cloth is known as Prada cloth. Gold leaf was used in the Jogjakarta and Surakarta area. The Central Javanese used gold dust to decorate their Prada cloth. It was applied to the fabric using a handmade glue consisting of egg white or linseed oil and yellow earth. The gold would remain on the cloth even after it had been washed. The gold could follow the design of the cloth or could take on its own design. Older batiks could be given a new look by applying gold to them. Gold decorated cloth is still made today; however, gold paint has replaced gold dust and leaf.

Batik Designs
Although there are thousands of different batik designs, particular designs have traditionally been associated with traditional festivals and specific religious ceremonies. Previously, it was thought that certain cloth had mystical powers to ward off ill fortune, while other pieces could bring good luck.

Certain batik designs are reserved for brides and bridegrooms as well as their families. Other designs are reserved for the Sultan and his family or their attendants. A person's rank could be determined by the pattern of the batik he/she wore.

In general, there are two categories of batik design: geometric motifs (which tend to be the earlier designs) and free form designs, which are based on stylized patterns of natural forms or imitations of a woven texture. Nitik is the most famous design illustrating this effect.

Certain areas are known for a predominance of certain designs. Central Javanese designs are influenced by traditional patterns and colors. Batik from the north coast of Java, near Pekalongan and Cirebon, have been greatly influenced by Chinese culture and effect brighter colors and more intricate flower and cloud designs.

High fashion designs drawn on silk are very popular with wealthy Indonesians. These exceptionally high-quality pieces can take months to create and costs hundreds of dollars.

Kawung is another very old design consisting of intersecting circles, known in Java since at least the thirteenth century. This design has appeared carved into the walls of many temples throughout Java such as Prambanan near Jogjakarta and Kediri in East Java. For many years, this pattern was reserved for the royal court of the Sultan of Jogjakarta. The circles are sometimes embellished inside with two or more small crosses or other ornaments such as intersecting lines or dots. It has been suggested that the ovals might represent flora such as the fruit of the kapok (silk cotton) tree or the aren (sugar palm).

Ceplok is a general name for a whole series of geometric designs based on squares, rhombs, circles, stars, etc. Although fundamentally geometric, ceplok can also represent abstractions and stylization of flowers, buds, seeds and even animals. Variations in color intensity can create illusions of depth and the overall effect is not unlike medallion patterns seen on Turkish tribal rugs. The Indonesian population is largely Muslim, a religion that forbids the portrayal of animal and human forms in a realistic manner. To get around this prohibition, the batik worker does not attempt to express this matter in a realistic form. A single element of the form is chosen and then that element is repeated again and again in the pattern.

Parang was once used exclusively by the royal courts of Central Java. It has several suggested meanings such as 'rugged rock', 'knife pattern' or 'broken blade'. The Parang design consists of slanting rows of thick knife-like segments running in parallel diagonal bands. Parang usually alternated with narrower bands in a darker contrasting color. These darker bands contain another design element, a line of lozenge-shaped motifs call mlinjon. There are many variations of this basic striped pattern with its elegant sweeping lines, with over forty parang designs recorded. The most famous is the 'Parang Rusak' which in its most classical form consisting of rows of softly folded parang. This motif also appears in media other than batik, including woodcarving and as ornamentation on gamelan musical instruments.

Washing Batik
Harsh chemical detergents, dryers and drying of fabrics in the sun may fade the colors in batik. Traditionally dyed batiks should be washed in soap for sensitive fabrics, such as Woolite, Silky or Halus. Fine batik in Indonesia is washed with the lerak fruit which can be purchased at most traditional markets. A bottled version of this detergent is also available at batik stores. Be sure to line dry batik in a shady area and not in direct sunlight.

Modern Batik
Modern batik, although having strong ties to traditional batik, utilizes linear treatment of leaves, flowers and birds. These batiks tend to be more dependent on the dictates of the designer rather than the stiff guidelines that have guided traditional craftsmen. This is also apparent in the use of color that modern designers use. Artisans are no longer dependent on traditional (natural) dyes, as chemical dyes can produce any color that they wish to achieve. Modern batik still utilizes canting and cap to create intricate designs.

Fashion designers such as Iwan Tirta have aggressively introduced batik into the world fashion scene. They have done much to promote the Indonesian art of batik dress, in its traditional and modern forms.

The horizon of batik is continuing to widen. While the design process has remained basically the same over the last century, the process shows great progress in recent decades. Traditionally, batik was sold in 2 1/4 meter lengths used for kain panjang or sarong in traditional dress. Now, not only is batik used as a material to clothe the human body, its uses also include furnishing fabrics, heavy canvas wall hangings, tablecloths and household accessories. Batik techniques are used by famous artists to create batik paintings which grace many homes and offices.

Fine quality handmade batik is very expensive and the production of such works is very limited. However, in a world that is dominated by machines there is an increasing interest in materials that have been handmade. Batik is one of these materials.

During your stay in Indonesia, take advantage of your time here to learn more about the fascinating world of batik. Have a batik dress or men's business shirt made for you by a seamstress or tailor. Visit batik factories in Jogjakarta, Surakarta or Pekalongan to see for yourself how the intricate process is conducted or ask questions of batik artisans giving demonstrations in stores such as Sarinah or Pasaraya in Jakarta. You will come away with sense of wonder over the time, effort and patience put into the creation of each batik cloth. You too may soon grow to love the distinctive waxy smell of batik and your batik acquisitions will provide many memories of your stay in Indonesia. Your support of the batik industry will also ensure that this art form grows to even greater peaks.

Batik Home Furnishings
One of the distinct pleasures of living in (or visiting) Indonesia is the opportunity to purchase some truly magnificent home furnishings made of batik. As the fabric is truly unique to Indonesia... this is definitely the best place to purchase batik! Batik factories can product batik to your order, with custom colors and designs in large rolls, ready to use for your home decoration projects. The 100% cotton fabric is usually preshrunk in the batik dying process and other fabrics are usually available with the batik design, should your design requirements warrant. Higher end shops also have design consultants who can help you with the layout of the room you are planning to design with your batik fabric and work with you on additional furnishings (pillows, bed covers, and cushions) to complete your color scheme.

Additional informaiton on Batik in Indonesia
Batik Designs: A Cultural Development Influenced by Changes in Time & Environment
Batik Canting - beautiful wall hangings from antique batik
Canting Batik - traditional hand batiking tool from Indonesia

Kebaya - Indonesian Traditional Dress for Women - read about the blouse that is worn with the batik kain (sarong) in much of Indonesian traditional dress.

Charles van Santen - photo collection of Batik Tulis and information on the production process

Click here to see a You Tube video by Piet Verboven of the batik making process!

Links to other sites with good info on Indonesian batik

This page was awarded the Golden Crane Creativity award for its contributions towards providing instructional information on batik.


Kebaya - Indonesian Traditional Dress for Women

History of the Kebaya
There is much speculation as to where the kebaya could have originated from. There are some who say that the kebaya originated in the Middle East, while others argue that it may have come from nearby China. Derived from the Arabic word kaba meaning “clothing” and introduced to Indonesia via the Portuguese language, the term kebaya has come to refer to a garment whose origins appear to be a blouse. It was first worn in Indonesia at some time during the 15th and 16th centuries. This garment is similar to what is described as a “long, fitted, flared kebaya known as kebaya panjang6, worn in the 16th century by Portuguese women arriving on the south-western coast of Malaysia, situated across the Malacca Straits from Sumatra, in northwestern Indonesia.

Many sources also cite Chinese influences on clothing of the time, one source comparing the kebaya to an open-fronted long-sleeved tunic worn by women of the Ming Dynasty. The introduction of this kind of dress were accredited to two major occurrences of this time; the emerging influence of Islam and the arrival of the Europeans to the archipelago. Whether it was Arabia or China that brought us the wonderful kebaya, there is no denying how quick the use of this garment was made uniquely Indonesian and spread from one island and ethnic group to another which its own regional variations. This quick diffusion of the use of the kebaya was also linked to the spice trade that was happening during this time in history.

Origins of the Kebaya
After Dutch colonization, the kebaya took on a new role as the formal dress for the European women in the country. During this time, the kebaya was made mostly from mori fabric. Modifications made to this traditional costume later introduced the use of silk and embroidery to add design and color. The most dominant form of kebaya worn on the islands of Java and Bali today, can be visibly traced to the kebaya worn in Java and Sunda from the late 19th - early 20th century onwards.

Many of the easily recognizable features of today’s kebaya – a tight fitting blouse that enhances the torso of the woman; the fold-back collarless neck and front opening; long sleeves; and the type of semi-transparent fabric – are evident in the kebaya of the past century. Traditional kebaya required the torso of the women to be wrapped with a long piece of cloth called a stagen. Women of higher social status would have help in wrapping their torso with the stagen however women who were not so fortunate to have help could dress themselves by tying the end of the stagen to a post and literally wrapping themselves into it.

The semi-transparent kebaya blouse was then worn overtop of the stagen. This blouse was fastened with a brooch rather than buttons and buttonholes. It was customary to combine the kebaya with kain – a length of unstitched cloth worn on the lower part of the body, often (and incorrectly) referred to in the English language as sarong. This kain was wrapped around the body with the pleats being placed at the front of the body. Traditinally this kain was dipped in a cornstach solution and then carefully folded by hand into pleats and pressed to produced the crisp look that was desired.

Indigenous Dress in the Making of a Nation
Considering the enormous historical – political and social – shifts that have occurred in Indonesia during the last century, the form of the kebaya, has remained relatively unchanged. Its function and meaning however, in contrast to its form, has seen major changes in colonial and post-colonial Indonesia, operating to meet different groups’ political agendas, social needs and aspirations. The kebaya has come to symbolize the emancipation of women in Indonesia through a representation linking the kebaya to the 19th century “proto-feminist” figure of Raden A. Kartini.

During the 19th century, and prior to the Nationalist movement of the early 20th century, the kebaya had enjoyed a period of being worn by Indonesian, Eurasian, and European women alike, with slight style variations. During this time distinguishing class and status was important and produced variants of the basic costume. The kebaya of Javanese royalty were constructed of silk, velvet and brocade; Javanese women belonging to the commoner class wore figured cottons; the kebaya worn by Eurasian women was of white cotton trimmed with handmade European lace during the day, and of black silk in the evening; while the Dutch women preferred a shorter white kebaya. It was even possible for Dutch women planning to travel to the Dutch East Indies to purchase their kebaya in the Netherlands prior to leaving.

Bali’s Kebaya
In Bali, the kebaya has a much more recent history. The Dutch, whose occupation of Bali began as late as 1849 in the north of the island, and whose direct rule did not begin until 1882, are believed to have enforced the wearing of the kebaya. At the time Balinese women’s breasts were uncovered, except for formal and ceremonial occasions, during which a sabuk might be wound tightly around the upper torso, covering the breasts but leaving the shoulders and arms exposed. The women of Buleleng, the regency of northern Bali, therefore would have been some of the first to adopt the kebaya.

Other sources however, do not locate the kebaya being in use until the early 1920s by which time it was in full use in other areas of Indonesia. It is via the royalty and the palaces that the kebaya appears to have been disseminated out into the community. New dress codes adopted by members of the royalty returning to Bali from Java were passed down through the caste system. Yet despite the fact that clothing is often used to separate class, there seems to be no evidence of the time to indicate that there were any rules delineating styles of kebaya according to caste. Differences in kebaya cloth were more likely to be an outcome of differences in wealth.

Emerging as National Dress
By the 1920s however, and with the full emergence of the nationalist struggle in Indonesia, European women stopped wearing the kebaya because it was identified with typical Indonesian attire. For the European colonizers the Kebaya had become associated with Indonesian nationalism.

During the period of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia (1942-1945), educated Indonesian women prisoners-of-war chose to wear kain-kebaya rather than the western dress allocated to them as prison dress. A different set of political conditions produced a reversal of meaning. In this situation the women employed a cultural code (of traditional dress) to assert their political position, differentiating themselves from their European women that were also prisoners-of-war.

During the Proclamation of Independence by President Sukarno on August 17, 1945, the only woman in attendance, Ibu Trimutri was wearing kain kebaya. This image helped transform the kebaya from mere traditional dress, elevating it to the status of national dress for Indonesia women.

From the Palace to the Street - Popular and Traditional Images
While the kebaya is worn by a wide range of women from the former President Megawati to the jamu street vendor, the kebaya could never be claimed to operate as a social leveller. Women who sell jamu (traditional herbal medicine), from young to old, and right across the islands of Java and Bali are wearing kebaya. Today, in Indonesia the image of a woman wearing kebaya sells a variety of products from traditional herbs to Betadine to fried chicken. As an icon the women in her traditional clothing - kebaya - sells tradition and all the purity and goodness belonging to Indonesian cultural traditions. Perhaps she also evokes an element of nostalgia for urban consumers. Traditional as a way of life, is often less about the differences between rural and urban settings, than about socio-economic and class distinctions. For women 50 years and older, whose occupations and way of life come to distinguish them as traditional, traditional clothing of kain-kebaya is their choice of daily dress. These women, the majority of whom belong to the lower socio-economic group, often work in traditional settings such as markets, are employed as house servants or work in the agricultural sector.

Today’s Kebaya
If we try to define what a kebaya is, it may prove to be difficult as it is constantly changing to reflect the changing times and fashions that Indonesia is experiencing. Nonetheless, it is possible to make some generalizations about the kebaya. Most Kebaya are made from a lace brocade. Most kebaya fabric uses a floral motif either printed or woven into the textile and its length can fall somewhere from above the waist to below the knee. It usually, but not always, has long sleeves. It is usually fastened at the front, and if not, then gives a semblance of doing so. Some variations of the kebaya will use a batik sash, which is coordinated with the kain, draped over the shoulder as an added accessory.

Although women in the market can be seen wearing kebaya, we can also see exquisite variations of them in government gatherings and parties and high society social functions. The beauty of this national dress is undeniable. Some of the most influential women in Indonesia are married in kebaya that can be described as “works of art” with their hand embroidered detailing and beading. Designers such as Ami Amianto have helped to promote the kebaya not only as a important part of Indonesian clothing history but as a very beautiful item of clothing that Indonesian women are proud to wear.

So the next time you see a women wearing a kebaya you will understand that she is not just wearing a functional piece of clothing but she is also wearing a symbol of Indoneia’s cultural history which represents national symbolism and high fashion too!

This article was written by Gene Sugandy, with research from the following sources:

Reading the Kebaya by Victoria Cattoni
Kebaya - Wikipedia

Selasa, 15 Februari 2011


Indonesian Traditional Textiles: Holding That Thread of Thought

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An introduction to Indonesian textiles and their traditional uses

Any expat that attends bazaars organized by community groups will see heaps and piles and overflowing tables stacked with gloriously patterned silk and cotton batiks and weavings from every part of Indonesia. With time you may feel inundated with the sheer quantity and variety of Indonesian traditional textiles.

There are Sumatran silks, glowing and rich with scarlet reds and shining golds, and Sumbanese ikat, with rusty reds and deep blues in bold patterns. The colorful rainbow stripes of Timorese ikat contrasts with the deeper browns and oranges and navy blue of the ikat of the islands of Alor, Flores and Savu. Every color can be found in the soft cotton batiks of Java - the bright colors of the north coast cloths, especially from Cirebon and Pekalongan, and the fine browns, whites and indigos of the court cloths of Solo and Yogyakarta. There are glorious Javanese silk batiks as well - soft and floating, in glowing color and design. From Bali there is a veritable explosion of color and texture - in both traditional and totally modern design.

With all this variety, how can we choose something to own for ourselves? Some people go overboard and get one (or more) of everything, others boggle at the choice and leave Jakarta never having purchased one of Indonesia's most famed products. A common complaint is that not understanding how a cloth is made, and what it should be used for, makes deciding what to buy more difficult. Here's a quick run-down on some of the most popular textiles.

First of all, most of these cloths are really items of clothing. The large flat cloths, or selimut, from Nusa Tenggara in eastern Indonesia - including Timor, Sumba, and Flores, are used by men as a sort of loin cloth-skirt, often worn with a belt. Another cloth of the same size is tossed over the shoulder. Traditionally, no shirt is worn, but today villagers often wear a t-shirt or collared cotton shirt. A very old, thin, faded selimut is usually worn under a good one as a sort of slip - useful if one gets into a situation where one might get dirty. The good outer selimut can be removed without threatening one's modesty. It's also handy in the weekly pasar - if a textile collector comes by and offers to buy the selimut right off one's back - or rear end, as the case may be - it's possible to sell and still go home decently covered.

The tubular cloths from this same area are women's sarongs. They're slipped into, pulled up to the waist or underarm, depending on whether one wants a skirt or the strapless look, and the top is carefully folded to cinch the sarong tightly around the body, then rolled down to secure. Traditionally these were worn as a strapless dress, with a selendang, or shoulder cloth, for formal occasions, or as a skirt, worn with or without a blouse. Today in some remote villages it's still possible to find women pounding rice with only an old sarong tied around their waists, but they now usually pull the sarong up when the foreigners' cameras come out - village women have learned that being an object of curiosity can be embarrassing. Formal dress today consists of a beautifully patterned sarong, worn with a fine blouse and selendang. Everyday wear is often an old sarong with a t-shirt.

In Java, most people now wear Western clothing. Traditional dress is worn for ceremonies, for Friday prayers, and in its casual form, to relax in at home. For casual and Friday wear the soft cotton tubular sarong is very cool and comfortable. Men wear them in plaids, and women often in soft floral patterns. Tubular sarongs are usually worn by older women; younger women prefer the more flattering fit of the tightly wrapped two or two-and-a-half meter kain panjang (literally: long cloth). The central Javanese courts of Solo and Yogyakarta are famed for their intricate batik kain panjang in fine cotton - worn by both men and women alike wrapped snugly around the waist and hips, with tiny pleats created with the loose front end piece of the cloth falling straight in front. Holding the kain up is a heavy cloth belt for men, and a hidden wide elastic belt for women. Men wear a short jacket, often with gold trim and buttons, and women wear a cotton blouse called a kebaya. The style of the kebaya varies - there are gauze-fine ones with beautiful embroidery, or heavier ones with lacy cutouts. Older kebaya have no buttons; they were held closed by ornate gold or silver pins. Over the shoulder, women wear a batik selendang, often in the same pattern as the kain panjang.

In Sumatra, as in Nusa Tenggara, the narrow, elaborate tubular sarongs are worn by women. The ornate golden threads on the sarongs of Lampung make them very heavy, so the top is often left plain so the sarong can be tightly tied and folded. Men's and women's sarongs from the Palembang area are also often shot with gold threads, though here women take the prize with their beautiful silk ikat selendang and headscarves, with the edges trimmed in gold. Several popular textiles from Sumatra aren't worn - they're wall hangings or gift covers for ceremonies. The tirai, a long brightly colored cloth with triangular hanging strips often heavily embroidered and covered with sequins and mirrors, is hung for festive ceremonies. The ship-cloths, more properly called tampan (if small) or palepai ( if large), are also brought out for ceremonies. The tampan is used to cover gifts in certain rituals - for example, during weddings. The palepai is hung to decorate the house for most ceremonies or festive occasions.

When you shop for batik, you may find the tubular sarongs still flat, with the final seam unsewn. If you're planning to cut the batik to sew into a blouse or dress, ask what the size is - there is a usual size of approximately 2 1/4 meters, but there is still some variety. You'll often be offered a kain panjang with matching selendang if it's a pattern favored by women. Sarongs from Nusa Tenggara may be pieced in sections - the loom width is small, so large cloths are actually sewn together from smaller matching sections. This can affect the way you design a jacket or dress with these ikat. When storing or displaying Sumatran cloths with gold threads be aware that these threadsare brittle, so they're best not folded. Older cloths were often folded to wear in the villages so the threads are often already snapped or frayed - make sure you can live with these imperfections.

The best of these cloths traditionally formed part of a family's assets. They were brought out and worn or displayed during ceremonies, used as dowry items, and exchanged during ceremonies. Many of these customs are still followed. For example, during weddings, Batak families keep careful count of which clans donate what type of large woven cloths, called ulos, and give certain cloths back in exchange in a very formal, ritualized set of ceremonies. An ulos is also worn at least as a shoulder cloth during most Batak ceremonies - even society weddings in Jakarta, over Western suits. As a family asset, textiles were often sold to raise cash; the custom persists today. School fees, funeral expenses, or wedding costs can all be met by selling prized textiles. These textiles may be old, but new ones have value, too.

Weaving and batiking are still a vital and thriving part of Indonesia's way of life. Join the rich textile heritage of Indonesia - go ahead, buy that cloth. You'll be in good company.

Our thanks to Sue Potter for her willingness to share her expertise on Indonesian textiles with us!

Here are some other pictures from Sue's extensive collection:

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Kematian di Tangan Narendro Ludiro Seto
PARAMITANakula dan Sadewa menghadap Prabu Salya setelah keduanya mengetahui Salya diangkat sebagai Senapati Kurawa esok hari.

Ketika seniman Wayang Orang Bharata mementaskan lakon ”Salya Wiratama” di Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, 8-9 November 2010, bencana alam Wasior, Mentawai, dan Merapi sedang merebak. Di tengah saat prihatin itulah pergelaran yang telah disiapkan sejak lama tetap dilangsungkan. Bukan tanpa disertai perasaan, melainkan justru sarat dengan semangat mengulurkan tangan. Wakil Presiden Boediono dan istri serta sejumlah direksi BUMN menyempatkan hadir menyaksikan, justru dengan semangat untuk menggalang dana bagi korban bencana.

Tiga bulan sudah pertunjukan itu berlalu, tetapi kini pencinta wayang orang masih terus dapat menonton pergelaran istimewa ini melalui rekaman DVD. Istimewa karena penonton bisa mendapatkan dua elemen utama dari pertunjukan wayang orang, yakni kisah yang hebat dan garapan yang prima.

Disutradarai bintang WO Bharata, Teguh ”Kenthus” Ampiranto, dibantu asisten sutradara Senthun Bhima Nugraha, perjalanan hidup Prabu Salya atau yang zaman mudanya dikenal sebagai Raden Narasoma ini mampu dihadirkan dengan ringkas, tetapi menggigit.

Meski tetap berbicara tentang sosok-sosok yang fisikal, Teguh juga tak membatasi ide terbatas pada aspek fisikal. Ketika Narasoma yang tengah bertapa hendak dibangunkan oleh Resi Bagaspati yang sedang memenuhi permintaan putrinya—Dewi Pujawati—untuk dicarikan jodoh yang ditakdirkan melalui mimpi itu, muncullah tarian laga bukan antara Bagaspati dan Narasoma, melainkan antara roh keduanya.

Suasana magis, dengan pencahayaan suram, tampil dengan setting panggung minimalis. Namun, yang mencekam berikutnya bukan adegan itu, melainkan kelanjutan cerita saat Narasoma meminta ajian sakti Bagaspati yang tak lain adalah Chandrabirawa. Padahal, bagi Begawan Bagaspati, Chandrabirawa dan dirinya tak terpisahkan. Ketika ia menanyakan kepada putrinya mana yang akan ia pilih, ayahnya atau kesatria impiannya, ia pun memilih Sang Kesatria.

Setelah menjadi raja di Kerajaan Mandaraka, saat Baratayuda datang, Narasoma yang kini sudah menjadi Prabu Salya harus memilih. Di tengah rasa putus asa karena pada saat para keponakan Kurawa dan Pandawa sedang bertikai, ia tak bisa berbuat apa-apa. Ia melihat bayangan-bayangan maut, seperti gugurnya salah seorang menantunya, Adipati Karna.

Dalam kebimbangan itulah Nakula dan Sadewa, kembar Pandawa yang merupakan anak Pandu dan Dewi Madrim, adiknya, datang. Keduanya ingin dibunuh saja karena besok atau sekarang mereka akan menghadapi kesaktian uak mereka yang tak akan tertandingi. Namun, Salya meyakinkan, orang baik pun kalau membela yang jahat akan sirna. Resi Bhisma, yang para dewa pun gentar menghadapinya, dan Pandita Durna, guru Pandawa dan Kurawa, keduanya gugur karena membela Kurawa yang salah. Salya meyakinkan bahwa ia pun akan mengikuti jalan hidup sama. Akhirnya, ia memberikan petunjuk kepada kedua keponakannya yang sangat ia cintai bahwa yang bisa mengalahkannya besok adalah Raja Berdarah Putih (Narendro Ludiro Seto) yang tidak lain adalah kakak sulung Nakula-Sadewa, Raja Yudistira.

Dalam tarian indah, Prabu Salya berperang melawan Yudistira setelah keempat saudara Pandawa kewalahan menghadapi raksasa wujud aji Chandrabirawa yang sulit dikalahkan.

Akhirnya, seperti ditakdirkan, Salya gugur di tangan Yudistira. Dalam kesedihan, Dewi Pujawati pun mengikuti jejak suaminya, membuat namanya lebih dikenal sebagai Setiawati.

Selain Teguh yang menjadi Prabu Salya yang bertemperamen galak, juga Senthun sebagai Narasoma yang gagah tetapi sombong, pergelaran yang koreografinya dikemas Nanang Riswandi ini juga didukung oleh Ali Marsudi (sebagai Pandu), Ruri Avianti (Pujawati), Sentot Erwin (Bagaspati), Agus Prasetyo (Nakula), Sigit ISI (Sadewa), Imam Surapati (Kresna), Anggawati Gunawan (Setyawati), serta seniman WO Bharata lainnya. (nin)

Paramita Nakula dan Sadewa menghadap Prabu Salya setelah keduanya mengetahui Salya diangkat sebagai Senapati Kurawa esok hari.