Javanese batik, the pride of Indonesia, has been the subject of research by many historians from around the world. It is so exceptional that in 2009 it was placed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Heritage.
Historical records and archaeological findings suggest that the wax-resist dyeing technique or batik may not be unique to Indonesia because for thousands of years it was practised in countries like China, Greece, India and South America.
This article looks at the work of OATG member Maria Wronska-Friend on the impact of Javanese batik on textile traditions outside Indonesia. Her 2016 book Batik Jawa bagi Dunia (Javanese Batik to the World), was reviewed in Asian Textiles 67 in June 2017.
The credit for introducing Javanese batik to Europe in the last decade of the 19th century belonged to the Dutch, the then-colonial rulers of Indonesia. From Holland it spread to other countries, especially France, Germany and Poland.
However, the adaptation of the Javanese technique in Poland has a very interesting history. In Eastern Europe there is an ancient tradition of decorating eggs with wax-resist dyeing — a technique very similar to Javanese batik.
Editor’s note: this tradition must have been quite widespread as we saw wax-resist decorated eggs in the Museum of Ethnography in Dubrovnik, Croatia. See images below.
According to Wronska-Friend “The interest in Javanese batik technique was immense across Europe. In the 1920s, thousands of artists, some of them very famous, practised the batik technique. It also became a fashionable female hobby”.
To read the full article visit the website of The Jakarta Post